How to temper chocolate
10:02AM, 01 April 2012
Fancy your chances as a master chocolatier? Here's a how-to guide to tempering chocolate to help you on your way...
Tempering by seeding
This tempering method uses the addition of finely chopped pieces, disks, or pistoles of chocolate into already-melted chocolate. Adding stable, crystallized chocolate lowers the temperature naturally, enabling regular crystallization of the chocolate mass. The method is a replacement for using a marble working surface or a cold-water bath.
Tempering is not merely a question of good looks, but, more importantly, of good taste.
What you'll need:
14 oz (400 g) chocolate, 1 serrated knife, 1 kitchen thermometer,1 flexible spatula and 1 food processor fitted with a blade attachment.
How to temper chocolateChop three quarters of the chocolate (10 1/2 oz/300 g) on a chopping board, using a serrated knife. Even better, use couverture chocolate in the form of fèves, buttons, or pistols.
Finely chop the remaining quarter (3 1/2 oz/100 g) or process it with the blade knife attachment of a food processor.
Place the roughly chopped chocolate in a bowl. Half fill a saucepan with hot water, and put the bowl over it, making sure that the bowl does not touch the bottom of the saucepan. Slowly heat the water, ensuring it does not boil. Alternatively, use a microwave oven if you wish, but in "defrost" position or at 500 W maximum. Stir regularly using a flexible spatula so that the chocolate melts smoothly.
Check the temperature with a thermometer. When it reaches 131F-136F (55C-58C) for bittersweet, or 113F-122F (45C- 50C) for milk or white, remove the chocolate from the bain-marie.
Set aside one-third of the melted chocolate in a bowl, in a warm place. Add the remaining finely chopped quarter (4 oz/100 g) of the chocolate into the remaining two-thirds of the melted chocolate, stirring constantly. Bittersweet chocolate should reach a temperature of 82F-84F (28C-29C); milk chocolate should reach 81F-82F (27C-28C); and white or coloured chocolate should reach 79F-81F (26C-27C).
Then add the melted chocolate that you have set aside to increase the temperature. Bittersweet chocolate should reach 88F-90F (31C-32C); milk chocolate should reach 84F-86F (29C-30C); an white or coloured chocolate should reach 82F-84F (28C-29C). Stir until the right temperature is reached.
Top tip: If the chocolate has attained the right temperature and there are still pieces of unmelted chocolate, remove them before increasing the temperature. If you leave them, the chocolate will thicken very quickly and become sticky because of over-crystallisation.
This extract is taken from the Valrhona Chocolate book - Cooking with Chocolate published by Flammarion.
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