How to Temper Chocolate.And form chocolates without molds.

 

When I was younger I fancied myself a bit of a chocolatier.  Thought I was pretty special.  Being a chocolatier and all.

While other kids were playing with their lemon twists I was also playing with my lemon twist.  And around 5 years after that, I was learning to melt pieces of chocolate to turn them into other pieces of chocolate.

Ta DA!  Chocolatier.

Then I got into braiding polyester ribbons around wire coat hangers and chocolate was a distant memory.

I’ve learned a few things about making chocolate since then, which I am now going to share with you.
 

Temper Title

 

If you buy a chocolate mold there’s usually instructions on the back on how to use it.  Generally it says to melt your chocolate in a double boiler.  Once it’s melted pour it into the molds and then stick the molds in the fridge.  In 10-15 minutes you’ll have chocolate.

You just won’t have good chocolate.

Chocolate is a complex thing made up of complex thingees which I won’t get into explaining right now because it would require I open up a page on my browser to Google “organic makeup of chocolate”.  It doesn’t matter why it’s complex.  What does matter is that you respect the fact that it’s complex.

Because of this, chocolate requires a certain procedure while melting it to make it the best that it can be.

Tempering.

If you melt chocolate willy nilly and stick it in the fridge, what you end up with is soft, dull chocolate that will get a white coating over the top of it and possibly become grainy.

If you temper your chocolate during the melting process you will end up with smooth, shiny chocolate that cracks when you break it in two.

The untempered chocolate isn’t bad for you or rotten.  It just isn’t as nice.  It’s the sort of thing a kid would make and think they were a chocolatier.

To temper chocolate you need to gather the best chocolate you can find.  I got Belgian chocolate.  White, dark and milk.

If it isn’t in chips, chop the chocolate so it’s in small pieces.  This way it will melt quicker and more evenly.

 

Chocolate 1

 

How to Temper Chocolate

Put an inch of water into the bottom of a double boiler.

Bring the water to a boil then turn off heat.

Place 2/3rds of your chocolate in top pot of double boiler and place on water filled bottom.

(reserve remaining 1/3rd of chocolate … this is your seed chocolate)

The residual heat is what will  melt the chocolate.

Keep stirring and stirring until the chocolate is melted and has reached the required temperature for tempering.

Milk & White Chocolate

115 – 118 degrees

Dark Chocolate

118 – 120 degrees

Immediately remove the pot with the chocolate, wipe the bottom of any steam or condensation.

Add your reserved seed chocolate.  This will bring down the temperature of your melted chocolate.

Stir and cool chocolate until it has lowered to:

Milk & White Chocolate

80 degrees

Dark Chocolate

80 degrees

Place pot with melted chocolate back onto double boiler and heat to:

Milk & White Chocolate

85 – 87 degrees

Dark Chocolate

88 – 91

Be VERY careful not to go over this final temperature.

Once your chocolate has reached the final temperature it’s ready to pour!

The HARD part is keeping the chocolate at its pouring temperature.

Some people put their pot on a heating pad or in a bowl with 90 degree water.  If you allow it to go above or below that temperature, you won’t get nice shiny, hard chocolate.

Be extra careful not to allow even a drop of water into the chocolate or it may seize up and you’ll be back to playing with a lemon twist.

 

Chocolate 2

 

Use a  candy thermometer to gauge your temperature.

Remember.  You  need to maintain your melted chocolate at the correct temperature throughout the entire process of pouring it.

 

Now it’s time to have the fun.  Don’t waste your money on the plastic chocolate making molds.  They’re often difficult to remove the chocolates from and they look just like cheap store bought chocolates most of the time.  Unless they’re in the shape of a fish.  They’re they’re loads of fun.

To get a professional looking chocolate start by drizzling the chocolate onto some waxed paper so you get a lacy pattern.  Like this.
 

Chocolate 3

 

Once the chocolate has hardened you can use it as an embellishment on your other chocolates.  Because it’s tempered, it will be hard and you’ll be able to peel it right off the waxed paper and break off small pieces.

Do these fancy pieces first so they have time to harden before you add them to your other (still soft) chocolates.
 

Chocoalte 5

 

To form your chocolates just drop a small blob of chocolate onto a piece of waxed paper.  It will pretty much automatically form a circle.  Let it set for a couple of minutes, then you can add whole or chopped nuts to the top, or a piece of your lacy chocolate.

You can also drop whole nuts like almonds into the chocolate and dig them out with a spoon, allowing most of the chocolate to drain off.  Drop onto waxed paper.

Notice the nice shine on the chocolate because it’s properly tempered.
 

Chocolate 4

 

Another way to give your chocolates some personality is to drizzle another type of chocolate over top.  You can keep things neat by only drizzling on the chocolate, or you can go a bit more avant garde like I did and let the drizzle splay out from the chocolate.
Chocolate 6
Chocolate 7
Chocolate 8

 

Now that you know the process, here’s a quick reference for chocolate tempering for you.

 

 

So you don’t get discouraged … my white chocolate tempered perfectly, the dark chocolate was so/so and the milk chocolate was pretty much a failure.

And yeah.  This post pretty much resulted in the downward spiral of all that is Paleo in this house.  I was never a big fan of chocolate.  Now? I am.

28 Comments

  1. Raymonde says:

    My mother used to make Laura Secord type chocolates when I was young, which were even better than the originals. She’s 91, so I think it’s time I asked her to teach me her secrets!

  2. Angela says:

    Are these temps in logical Celcius or crazy Farenheit?

    • Karen says:

      Angela – Crazy Farenheit. For some reason even though Canada uses the metric system, except we don’t. We use metric for the speed of our cars (60km per hour), we use Imperial for our weight (110 lbs) we use metric for temperature reference ONLY for the outdoor temperature, and Imperial for temperatures having to do with cooking. Yup. We are a diverse and wacky country. Our spelling rules are pretty much the same. ~ karen

  3. Amanda W. says:

    Very much enjoy the chocolate art in your photos!
    And I wasn’t aware of the metric/imperial flip-flopping you Canadians have going on! Good to know!
    I was amused to see your chocolate post, as I just posted on chocolate this evening as well.
    If you happen to like peanut butter chocolate, you should try it! http://ourfunwithfive.blogspot.com/2013/02/deliciously-simple-healthy-peanut.html
    Which reminds me – your spelling is just a tad different.. when we are in Ontario, we always notice the Reese’s peanut butter cups are just REESE there. 🙂

    • Deb J. says:

      I’m not 100% sure but I suspect Reese’s is Reese in Canada because of Quebec. They have language laws there that do not allow English. Proper names can be used but not as a possessive because that would be English. That is why our old department chain owned by the Eaton clan changed from Eaton’s to Eaton. Still went out of business but I don’t think the name change was the cause:)

    • Alice says:

      Re: Reese’s vs. Reese — it’s probably so they don’t have to worry about the French-language packaging — where some would say it would have to be “de Reese”.

  4. I am pinning this for future reference! I’ve heard about tempering but was too lazy to Google it. Thanks for explaining it in layman’s terms. Cheers.

  5. Suzanne says:

    I think I’m even crazier – I use metric for the outside temperature ONLY in the winter (as in “it’s minus 5”)and imperial ONLY in the summer (as in “it’s 80 degrees”)… in spite of a science degree!

  6. cred says:

    Ahhh, the lemon twist. Does anyone else even remember those?

    those chocolates look delicious!

  7. Ann says:

    Some would say chocolate is Paleo. As long as it is not overly sweet. and chocolate is also considered a healing, medicinal food. So go for it. I already consider chocolate to be a food of the gods and I eat only the best. I buy one of the really good brands of dark chocolate in bar form once a week and split it with my DH. It is really enough and feels like such a treat.

  8. Patti says:

    You. Are. Absolutely. Unbelievable.

    Marry me?

  9. Nancy Blue Moon says:

    Very pretty chocolates..I used to work in a candy factory which is not a wise thing to do when you are addicted to chocolate and diabetic..and allowed to eat as much as you want at work..I do miss those chocolate covered potato chips..As for the metric/imperial thing..I would like to thank our car manufactures for putting both on their speedometers or I probably would have gotten a few tickets when driving in Ontario..

  10. rev59@shaw.ca says:

    I just be a lot of things taste good after that Paleo – ummmm, even brussels sprouts? I’m ducking…

  11. toekneetoni says:

    You are truly a jedi master at making “stuff.”

  12. Au revoir Paleo, that’s worth celebrating! With chocolate, tempered of course!

  13. Denise says:

    I am a Chocolatier…..I use double ‘boiler’ melters that do not require water and are not expensive to buy. They are very handy and much easier than the pot in a pot I used to use years ago.!!

  14. Gloria says:

    I am a chocolate eater!! I would much rather eat the pretty ones that shine….thanks for the lesson!

  15. Ali says:

    ohhh you just gave me a good idea for using those cacao nibs I just bought.

  16. Emily says:

    Are the temperatures the same for higher altitude chefs?

  17. Stephanie says:

    Those look delicious, and I’m not reading the tempering instructions because it would be a terrible thing if I started making gourmet chocolate confections at home. I’d gain a stone or two, for sure. Worse yet, it would show up on my bathroom scale as fat American pounds.

  18. Leila says:

    Hey there, fellow Canuck! There are a bunch of different brands of paleo, might be worth finding one you like. I like the Jaminet’s Perfect Health Diet – butter, cream, cheese, rice, potatoes, chocolate, yum!

  19. jennie says:

    really thank u your tips helped me a lot thanks well i am from india but now i am in usa.

  20. Nancy says:

    Came on here to get info on melting chocolate to make a bar for the chocolate strawberry cheese cake my 16 year old son requested for his birthday.I need the bar to write his birthday message on, guess I need to buy a rectangular mold? Any craft suggestions on how to achieve it already existing supplies around the house?

    • Karen says:

      Hi Nancy. You should be able to use just about anything that’s rectangular in shape as your mould. Just line it with plastic wrap which will release it from the mould easily. A baking pan would be too big but something smaller and square … even a sardine can or sturdy cardboard box … the bottom of a cereal box for instance. 🙂 ~ karen!

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