TEMPERED CHOCOLATE is the first step in creating mouth watering gourmet chocolate confections.
There is no substitute for the taste and texture of REAL chocolate, premium couverture. When using REAL chocolate in candy making the process of tempering is often required. What is tempering?
Tempering is the process of heating then cooling chocolate for use in dipping, coating or molding. Tempered chocolate will set quickly and will have a beautiful glossy, rich shine. Once set, tempered chocolate will harden to a nice snap when broken. When chocolate is melted and not tempered it will take a long time to set and will have streaks, feel grainy and never set to a really hard stage. Of course melting chocolate is required when molding, coating and dipping confections so mastering the technique of tempering is also required when working with REAL chocolate.
Master this technique and you are well on your way to amazing candy creations. Begin with the finest ingredients and a few special techniques and the confectionary world is yours!
Microwave safe bowl/container– Hard plastic or soft plastic. (Rubbermaid type or the equivalent)
-Test bowl to insure is doesn’t retain heat: Put 1 cup water in bowl, microwave until water is steaming. Remove bowl. If the bowl is not too hot to hold, it is good. Food Thermometer: Digital thermometers are great but cost about $35.00. A basic candy thermometer costs approx $15.00 and works very well. You will need it for other candy projects as well. Rubber spatula: Use a soft rubber spatula for stirring and blending chocolate. It is much better than wood or metal for scraping the sides of your bowl. Microwave with variable settings. ( a turning tray is helpful too) PREMIUM CHOCOLATE- 1 ½ pounds of premium, REAL chocolate divided into two separate bowls: 1 pound for the melting batch and ½ pound as the seeding chocolate.
Make sure your chocolate is in uniform size chunks. This helps them melt evenly. If you have very large chunks and itty bitty chunks, you risk burning parts of your batch.
Put your one pound master batch in the microwave (using the heat tested bowl) for ONE minute. Remove, stir completely and return to microwave. Repeat this process until all the chunks have completely melted and your batch temperature is approx 116 degrees. Caution, do not assume your chocolate is not melting if you still see chunks. It is heating from the inside out. Take your time and stir thoroughly. It is very important that you heat your chocolate in short spurts. Don’t risk burning your chocolate from the inside out by microwaving too long. Slow and steady, stir as you go, will insure your chocolate is evenly heated and totally melted without overheating. Remember… we are trying to “melt” the chocolate, not “cook” it.
Once your master batch has reached a temperature of approximately 116 degrees (MAX) add ¼ pound of chocolate chunks, (seed chocolate).
Stir master batch until all seed chocolate chunks have melted. Test the temperature and watch it drop. As the seed chocolate melts, the master batch cools down. Adding the seed chocolate (chocolate that is still in temper) adds good, tempered chocolate crystals to your batch and helps your entire batch go into temper.
Continue this process until your master batch has reached 86-88 degrees. Keep in mind, stirring your batch thoroughly, all sides and bottom of your bowl, while the temperature drops, helps your chocolate go into perfect temper.
Once your entire batch has reached the 88 degree mark, do a small test. Place a spoonful on wax paper, pop it into the refrigerator for10 minutes. Once hardened, it should be shiny, and break with a nice “snap” Presto, you have a perfectly tempered master batch ready to use!
After you have done a few batches using this method you will have a good feel for how your microwave works with chocolate. Here is a guideline about heat and chocolate behavior. Please note we are referring to REAL chocolate in this table.
White chocolate: Melts quickest and burns the fastest. It contains a lot of milk solids which are quick to burn if not stirred thoroughly. Stir, stir, stir. Use moderate setting.
Milk chocolate: Melts quickly and evenly. Use moderate to high heat settings.
Dark or semi sweet chocolate. Very dense, fewer milk solids. Slowest to melt and harder to burn. Can tolerate higher heat settings. Make no mistake… it too will burn if not stirred!
Once this small batch technique is mastered, you will be doing 2-5 pound chocolate batches in no time!
Don’t lose your temper or your “cool”. Take your time to master this process and have fun!
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