Who doesn’t love eating a little bit of chocolate! Me … me … me!!!! I love working with chocolate too, and for some time have wanted to understand what it meant to “temper” chocolate, and how that would make a difference to my chocolate making attempts (many of which have been a failure).
So in May 2015 I enrolled in a Bean to Bar course at the fabulous Savour School in Melbourne (http://www.savourschool.com.au) where we were taught the process of taking a cocoa bean (the “Bean”) and transforming it into a delicious edible chocolate treat (the “Bar”). We learned that tempering is not so much a “science”, but a very fine balance between time / movement / temperature when melting chocolate … whether that is dark / milk / or white.
Bought chocolate is in a tempered state with a nice shine and snap when you break it. When you melt chocolate the crystals in the cocoa butter (there are 6) are released from their stable state, and unless you heat and cool the chocolate correctly (which is tempering) it:
- will not set at room temperature;
- will melt quickly in your hand; and
- will leave unattractive streaks or marks on the chocolate as it sets.
This does not harm the chocolate as it can be re-tempered, but it does not look great.
Cooking chocolate often contains vegetable oils instead of cocoa butter so you do not need to temper it (as there is no cocoa butter present), but they lack flavour and texture and are not the same as the “real” thing.
For more information and details on tempering chocolate see this post by David Lebovitz: http://www.davidlebovitz.com/2005/08/tempering-choco/
At the Savour School we learned the three main methods of tempering chocolate:
- Microwave method (all the chocolate is placed into a plastic bowl – glass retains too much heat – and melted in very short bursts until half the chocolate is melted, then you continue stirring quickly without any extra heat until all the chocolate is melted)
- Seeding method (75% of chocolate is melted to 45°C, then final 25% of chocolate is added and stirred vigorously until all the chocolate is melted)
- Manual method (all the chocolate is heated to 45°C, then 2/3rd of the chocolate is poured onto a marble surface and worked vigorously to reduce it’s temperature, then it is incorporated back into the other 1/3rd and stirred thoroughly until the total temperature of the chocolate had reduced)
I have tried a variety of processes to temper chocolate in a Thermomix with varied results. This is because there are many factors that can affect the result, but finally I feel confident enough to share with you what I have found works for me:
It is important there is no moisture at all in your TM bowl before you put your chocolate into it … moisture will “seize” your chocolate making it unworkable.
Quality of Chocolate
Currently I am using Callebaut callets (which are small pea size pieces also known as “buttons”). If you are using block chocolate you will need to break it down before melting by chopping it into pea size pieces with a sharp knife. Many people suggest milling chocolate before starting, but I find it easier with less mess using the pea size pieces.
When using dark chocolate get one with 55 to 70% cocoa butter … the more percentage, the higher the cocoa butter content, the more bittersweet the taste.
Milk and white chocolate have less cocoa butter and more milk and sugar … so try to use one that has a cocoa butter percentage no less than 30 to 35%. Milk and white chocolate melts quicker (because of the milk and sugar) and takes slightly longer to cool, so it can be a bit challenging adjusting times in the Thermomix to get the right tempered result ( # see note below of dark/milk/white chocolate).
Any tempered chocolate I don’t use I spread thinly onto baking paper, set it, break it into pieces, and then place into a snap lock bag to use in baking, ganache, icings, etc. It can be re-tempered but I prefer to use a fresh lot of chocolate each time.
The best ambient room temperature when working with chocolate is 19 to 21°C so most chocolate producing businesses have dedicated rooms where their chocolate work is done.
In a home environment it is unlikely you will have your kitchen at this temperature, but I mention this because you will need to consider it if planning to work with chocolate on a really hot day. This could definitely work against you in terms of setting the chocolate so maybe do it in the evening when the air is cooler.
Chocolate that is tempered using the “seeding” method is more forgiving and easier to manage in a humid or warm environment, so this is the method I had adopted for the Thermomix.
Dark / Milk / White Chocolate #
Not all chocolate is created equal … dark chocolate is the easiest to temper and sets the quickest, milk and white chocolate is less so due to the extra milk and sugar, and less cocoa butter present. If your chocolate is tempered correctly, it should start to set by:
- Dark: 5 minutes (needs to be 31 to 32°)
- Milk: 7 minutes (needs to be 30 to 31°)
- White: 10 minutes (needs to be 29 to 30°)
I use dark chocolate for tempering to make bark or coat truffles, but this process works for milk and white chocolate too but there needs to be a slight adjustment in timings (I can do this using a thermometer, but due to the variables involved I cannot easily cover this here … see note #).
To temper 300g of dark chocolate (enough to make a large tray of bark, or coat approximately 26 truffles depending on size)
- Place 200g dark chocolate callets (or pea size pieces) into dry TM bowl
- Melt 7 minutes / 50 degrees / speed 2 / MC off, pausing machine after 2 minutes to scrape down sides
- Scrape sides, add final 100g chocolate callets or pieces and stir 7 minutes / no heat / speed 2 / MC off
- Scrape sides and do final stir 3 minutes / no heat / speed 1 / MC off
Your chocolate in now tempered
If Using to Make Bark
Pour chocolate onto a tray lined with baking paper, spread the chocolate relatively thinly (I use an off-set spatula) and drizzle with toppings of choice … allow to set at room temperature before breaking into pieces. Best stored in a sealed container somewhere cool.
If Using to Coat Truffles
Tempered chocolate cools relatively quickly so to ensure your chocolate stays fluid enough for you to work with:
- Have a pot of boiled water close by on which you can place your chocolate bowl for a few seconds to slightly warm the underneath whilst stirring the chocolate (take care not to get any water in the chocolate); or
- Heat for just a few seconds in a microwave, stirring as soon as you take it out
In both cases take care not to overheat the chocolate as you will take it out of temper, so shorter times are better than longer times.
- Line tray with baking paper
- Place chocolate into a ceramic bowl
- Dip the truffles using two chocolate dipping forks, or two regular forks and place the coated truffles onto the baking paper
- Continue until they are all done, using one of the methods described above to keep the chocolate fluid enough to work with
- Allow truffles to set at room temperature
Once set store truffles in the fridge to preserve the filling, or depending on the fillings and when you plan to serve them, store at room temperature in a sealed container in a cool spot.