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Tempering
March 26, 2004
5:25 am
theobroma
MIlwaukee, USA
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Hi
Does anyone know much about tempering chocolate? Can it be done fairly easily, or does it require great expertise?
Ie, if I were to buy couverture chocolate and pour it into my own molds, could I do this without a great education?
thanks
Kyle

Oh no! My Agustus!

Oh no! My Agustus!
March 27, 2004
3:41 am
Hans-Peter Rot
USA
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You must temper chocolate because upon melting, the cocoa butter separates and then forms irregular crystals upon cooling. When you temper chocolate, you basically stabilize the cocoa butter into a uniform configuration, which results in a shiny and smooth surface. There are several techniques, such as the seed method, and they can be found in any chocolate cookbook or online. The temperature at which you melt the chocolate is important because milk, white, and dark all have different melting points, and the slightest variation will influence your results greatly. Tempering by hand is quite tricky, time consuming, and demands some practice to master, but you get to eat any failed attempt. Tempering machines are available, and they work fine too. Be careful, though, if you blend chocolates, as certain types will have varying amounts of cocoa butter that might effect how the finished chocolate will hold up.

April 8, 2004
4:22 am
theobroma
MIlwaukee, USA
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Thanks Peter!
I’m a lazy fellow, so I’ll look into the tempering machines…
kyle

Oh no! My Agustus!

Oh no! My Agustus!
May 21, 2004
4:08 pm
choca
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tempering is pretty easy to do , but if you are starting off then you might want to avoid moulding and start with making your own fresh cream truffles and dipping the centres . the cheap flexi plastic moulds are best avoided .
good luck and happy chocolate making !!

May 24, 2004
12:46 am
Lone Ly
Oslo, Norway
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Theobroma,

Do you mean you want to melt chocolate? I agree it is a bit tricky, but not at all difficult. My kitchen is not too well equipped, so this way of doing it should be applicable to most. First bring some water to boil in a pan and turn down the heat so it’s only simmering. Chop the chocolate into pieces and place in a bowl or so over the water. The bowl should be bigger than the pan. Try to avoid too high heaps of chocolate in the bowl. The bottom of the bowl should not get in contact with the water. If you want to melt smaller amounts you might prefer a smaller bowl. Then simply use a sif over the pan and place the bowl in the sif. The steam from the simmering water will melt the chocolate at the right temperature (for most chocolates). The chocolate is ready melted when it is liquid-ish but still have the shape of the chopped bits.

"Man cannot live by chocolate alone - but woman can." (Unknown)
May 27, 2004
6:05 am
blakej
San Francisco, USA
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I’ve talked to a local professional chocolatier briefly about tempering, and he suggested that it’s really worth learning how to do it by hand. In fact, he implied, the more you need tempered chocolate, the more important it is to learn to do it by hand, because the machines can be temperamental (sorry) and can break down.

I’ve slowly improved my tempering skill over time, mainly by following directions in good chocolate books. The hard part for me is trying to figure out what I’ve done wrong. I haven’t found a good list of “if your chocolate behaves like this, you’ve probably done that”. As a software engineer, it’s frustrating that I can’t debug my chocolate. [:)]

May 31, 2004
8:37 pm
Lone Ly
Oslo, Norway
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Blakej, you can’t debug your chocolate, but you can always let a poorly tempered chocolate cool and try again later! (I’ve heard.) I did some mistakes the first times myself, but now I succeed every time. I guess it’s just to follow instructions and try, try, try. I do have a problem sometimes; It happens that my tempered chocolate becomes grain-like when mixed with whipped cream. If I mix with an egg yolk first it turns out fine though.

"Man cannot live by chocolate alone - but woman can." (Unknown)
June 2, 2004
6:04 am
blakej
San Francisco, USA
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Yep. I usually get the chocolate into what I think is proper temper, test a bit on a sheet of waxed paper, and use it if the sample dries within a few minutes. If it doesn’t dry, or it dries unevenly, I start the melt-and-cool cycle all over again. The problem is that I usually only temper chocolate when I’m trying to crank out a batch of truffles for gifts, so when it misbehaves I start to lose my own, umm, temper.

At one point recently, I was trying to be extra-careful about the appropriate temperature ranges, so rather than table or seed the chocolate I just stirred it until the thermometer showed it was in the right range. When I tested that out, it was my worst attempt ever! It didn’t solidify at all for 10 minutes, and even after a few hours the sample drop was grainy and smeared all over when I tried to touch it. It seems that the chocolate needs to be cooled quickly for the tempering to work. I’m still trying to figure out why that is (again, the engineer in me), but at least now I know one mistake not to make.

June 3, 2004
2:06 am
Lone Ly
Oslo, Norway
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Blake, I’m a happy amateur and neither an engineer nor into the complex chemistry of chocolate – I get headache only by glancing the instruction sheet following Amedei’s 1 kg blocks – but, from what you describe and from what I’ve heard, the “mistake” you did was probably to stir the chocolate while tempering. I use to leave it in the bowl (or whatever) until melted. It’s melted when liquid-ish while touching but still keeping its shape. For example, while tempering Cluizel I can still enjoy his handwriting even when the tempering process is finished. If I stir it’s only to check whether its ready tempered. I don’t know why it is so, but I guess there is something about chocolate which makes the tempered chocolate unable to temper the non-tempered chocolate – compared to how tempered chocolate can be mixed with room-tempered butter.

"Man cannot live by chocolate alone - but woman can." (Unknown)
November 5, 2004
11:31 am
alex_h
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whew! umm, how often can a chocolate be melted before it loses its taste?

November 5, 2004
1:03 pm
Sebastian
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Alex – you can melt it as many times as you wish, as long as you’re taking care not to get it *really* hot, or storing it around things that have strong flavors themselves (chocolate will absorb the flavors around it).

For ease of tempering, I’ve not seen anyone here suggest using a microwave. It’s really very easy, and all you really need is, well, a microwave, a plastic bowl, and an accurate thermometer (very important, and probably the one thing most home owners don’t own). If you want to do this, you can be a digital thermometer from most scientific supply houses that’s accurate to 0.5 degrees, w hich may seem awfully small, but when it comes to tempering, a variation as small as 1 degree can mean the difference between success and failure.

What you do is break your already tempered, solid chocolate that you’ve purchased into the bowl, setting perhaps 10% of it aside should we need it later (it will come to you tempered, but in order to melt it and form it in a way that it doesn’t look bad or melt as soon as you pick it up, you have to specially handle it). Melt it at 20 second intervals, taking it out and stirring each time. When it begins to melt, use your thermometer to make sure that the temperature doesn’t go above 91F. it should be fluid and pourable in the 88-91F range, and if there are some small lumps in it, continue to stir it until they melt out. If you go above 91F, you’re going to ‘lose your temper’, which is a bad thing, but you can recover by adding in shavings of that 10% we set aside before we started microwaving, until the’re completely melted into the mass, and your temperature is below 91F. Now you’ve got yourself tempered chocolate, and are ready to pour it into a mould, coat a truffle, whatever.

It’s not as glamorous as using a marble slab, but it’s a heckuva lot easier and less time consuming. In fact, when I’m making candy at home with my daughter, this is how we do it. After you’ve poured it into a mould, you’ll have to solidify it; if you’ve got a very cool room (say, high 60F’s) you can let it sit on the counter top with a fan blowing over it. If not, you can pop it into your ‘fridge for 15 minutes or so, but be advised that if it’s humid or warm in your kitchen, when you remove it from the fridge you’re likely to get a layer of condensation on it, which doensn’t hurt it, but will discolor it.

Happpy tempering!

November 11, 2004
8:22 pm
stu
Wellington, New Zealand
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Hello

This is my first post! I just came across this topic and thought I might be able to help as I was in Kyle’s position a few months ago (i.e. a chocolate nut who wanted to learn to temper)

To the above comments, I would just like to add that tempering choclate by hand (dbl boiler + Marble slab) is not at all difficult, even for a beginner. My very first attempt was a bit of a failure, but the second one was really good and I have been happily tempering ever since. If you screw up one attempt, just re-melt it and try again.

It is useful to understand exactly what is going on in the chocolate during tempering. Have a look at this article from Scharffen Berger, which gives a very good “how to” as well: http://www.scharffenberger.com…..health.php

As long as you follow the instructions carefully and watch your temperature ranges, you should have no problem!

The only issue that I have run up against is that I can’t get my hands on decent moulds (JKV or ChocolateWorld)! There don’t seem to any available in New Zealand, and the shipping costs for importing a small number of moulds (2-3) direct from the factory are prohibitive.

Regards

Stu

November 24, 2004
9:39 am
Hayley
Auckland, New Zealand
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Hello there Stu!
I’ll keep my eye’s peeled for moulds in Auckland for you. What kind of quantities are you after? I may have some plans done the track that involves moul and equipment but it’s very early days at the moment. Are you working in a restaurant?

November 25, 2004
8:41 pm
stu
Wellington, New Zealand
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Hello Hayley

Nice to see another New Zealander here!

At the moment I am just a keen amateur. I don’t work in the food industry at all right now (I’m actually an Engineer) but I have long term plans for a career change in that direction.

I’m only after 2-3 moulds initially. I have been in contact with PTL in Auckland (www.ptl.co.nz), who are the agents for ChocolateWorld, but because of the very small quantities involved they can only get them if somebody else in NZ places a large order. Have been waiting 4 months so far, so am certainly keen to find any alternative sources!

Stu

P.S. Does anyone in AK sell Bonnat? I used to be able to get it down here but they’ve stopped selling it.

November 25, 2004
11:51 pm
Martin Christy
London, United Kingdom
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Microwaving chocolate scares me. I don’t know a good reason why, but it seems wrong. Anyone think of a good reason?

Martin Christy
Editor
http://www.seventypercent.com

Martin Christy Editor www.seventypercent.com
November 26, 2004
5:17 am
Lone Ly
Oslo, Norway
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I think the fact that it scares you is a good reason. It scares me too. So, good reason: Emotions. Chocolate is very much personal, very much about emotions to me.

But to suggest a reason for those not as faint-hearted as me, I don’t see any good reason to use microwave (except time for time, maybe). It does not sound easier at all. As I mentioned earlier, it is very easy to place a bowl of chopped chocolate over a pan of simmering water and leave it there (do not stir) until melted. I never fail on this, and the chocolate does not require my attention during the procedure.

Chocolate is cheaper than therapy and you don’t need an appointment.

"Man cannot live by chocolate alone - but woman can." (Unknown)
December 18, 2004
10:35 am
Hayley
Auckland, New Zealand
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Hi Stu
I’m not quite sure about the Bonnat, La Cigale in Parnell & Ponsonby used to sell it, but I did not see it last time I was there. They do sell Michael Cluzuel (mind the spelling) only bought it once so far). Sabato sell Valrhona and Cuba Venchi, you will be able to get most of the Valrhona range and Cuba (will run out quick due to xmas) at Truffle in Wellington. Cuba Venchi make a nice gianduja. The 2004 Valrhona single estate chocolate bars are here as well. Good possiblity that cocoa nibs will be availible in retail packaging early next year. A little different to eating choc, great to use in cooking, pastry work, salads etc. As far as moulds go, I am still a little way off on that one. Resotech in Auckland do sell a variety of chocolate moulds, but I do not know if they sell to retail customers. I’ll check that one out for you. They also sell a huge range of coverture, praline etc. Is it freezing down in welington at the moment! It feels like the middle of winter up in Auckland! Brrrrr!
Just another idea, you can buy Amedei chocolate from Simon Johnson in australia by mail order (I’m pretty sure) Also check out Smith and Caugheys for other chocolate brands.
See ya

December 21, 2004
8:14 pm
stu
Wellington, New Zealand
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Thanks Hayley

I had already discovered the Valrhona range at Truffle, but the other sources are all new to me. Must visit La Cigale when I’m up there next!

I had a look at the Resotec website: Their moulds look a little pricey for what they are ($70 vs $35ish for the ChocolateWorld ones). I will follow up my order with PTL in the new year and let you know how I get on.

It was bitterly cold down here in the weekend, but seems to have cleared up now!

Have a nice Xmas

Stu

December 21, 2004
8:34 pm
Gunnaknow
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Stu, just a note to say check your email. I have sent you a couple of messages.

James

-Zero is where truth begins. Didn’t you know? You can’t say it wasn’t obvious.-

December 21, 2004
9:22 pm
Gunnaknow
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Stu, you might also want to take a look at these sites in NZ.

http://tayloredtreats.bizland……m/id7.html
http://tayloredtreats.bizland……/id14.html

http://www.homestylechocolates…..index.html

-Zero is where truth begins. Didn’t you know? You can’t say it wasn’t obvious.-