How to temper chocolate

    Fancy your chances as a master chocolatier? Here's a 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, crystallised chocolate lowers the temperature naturally, enabling regular crystallisation of the chocolate mass. The method is a replacement for using a marble working surface or a cold-water bath.

    Watch our video on how to temper chocolate:

    Melting chocolateWhat you'll need

    400 g (14 oz) chocolate, 1 serrated knife, 1 kitchen thermometer,1 flexible spatula and 1 food processor fitted with a blade attachment.

    How to temper chocolate

    • Chop three quarters of the chocolate (300 g/ 10 1/2 oz) on a chopping board, using a serrated knife. Even better, use couverture chocolate in the form of fèves, buttons or pistoles.
    • Finely chop the remaining quarter (100 g / 3 1/2 oz) 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 55C-58C (131F-136F) for bittersweet/ dark, or 45C- 50C (113F-122F)  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 (100 g/ 4 oz) of the chocolate into the remaining two-thirds of the melted chocolate, stirring constantly. Bittersweet/ dark chocolate should reach a temperature of 28C-29C (82F-84F); milk chocolate should reach 27C-28C (81F-82F); and white or coloured chocolate should reach 26C-27C (79F-81F).
    • Then add the melted chocolate that you have set aside to increase the temperature. Bittersweet/ dark chocolate should reach 31C-32C (88F-90F); milk chocolate should reach 29C-30C (84F-86F); an white or coloured chocolate should reach 28C-29C (82F-84F). 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.


    Cooking with chocolate book cover


    This extract is taken from the Valrhona Chocolate book - Cooking with Chocolate published by Flammarion.


    Comments, questions and tips

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    Natalie Goddard's picture
    Natalie Goddard
    16th Jun, 2018
    Actually it is 55 for dark chocolate if your using good quality couverture chocolate you should not be having a problem at all. It should be made using real cocoa beans and vanilla extract if those ingrediants have been subsituted the chocolate isnt very good tbh. Even our British award winning chocolatier says 55 here
    The White Monk's picture
    The White Monk
    7th Mar, 2018
    Be careful! The video is wrong and says to melt the chocolate to 50-55C. This is wrong and too high! It will ruin your chocolate and you will not be able to recover this. I see it has been corrected in the text to 45-50C. Just don't exceed 50C. The BBC really should correct this as some people will follow the video and may get this wrong.
    17th Apr, 2016
    Followed this recipe to the letter and then wondered why I had 300 very wrong looking profiteroles, after looking elsewhere every other recipe says only take dark chocolate to 45°c NOT 55°c, now I have a 4am start on a sunday morning to try and remake all the profiteroles again. Further looking on the page I realise someone has commented 2 YEARS AGO about the mistake, and the website didn't follow it up. Very disappointing BBC good food
    2nd Apr, 2015
    Good luck trying to use the current Galaxy milk chocolate. What have they done to it? Kept a gluttonous mess whilst other chocolates just melted straight away in similar bowls.
    9th Jul, 2014
    the temperature for bringing the dark choc up to seems to be way to high - 45 degrees C not 55 would seem to be right.
    28th Apr, 2014
    I am using cocoa powder instead of melting commercial chocolate, therefore there is a difference in tempering technique. Can you advise a method? Thank you, Jim
    goodfoodteam's picture
    6th May, 2014
    Hi there, you don’t need to temper cocoa powder, hope this helps, thanks.
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