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