Tempering chocolate is a basic skill to hone for professional and amateur chocolatiers alike. It consists of melting chocolate and cooling it quickly by moving it around on a cold marble till it reaches 28.5-30.5 degrees depending on the chocolate. Tempering is what gives chocolate its beautiful shine and snap. Master tempering and the chocolate world is your oyster from truffles to filled chocolates or coated fruit and nuts.
In our atelier, we have tempering machines but we still temper by hand every day for new creations, experiments and other wild adventures in chocolate. So we do temper chocolate by hand a lot. However, we cheat.
Yes i said it: we cheat - only on a small sample scale but we do.
And here is how you can cheat too and master the art of good tempered chocolate without a marble slab or a thermometer.
- Melt chocolate to a high temperature: good tempering requires the chocolate to be fully decrystallised so make sure the chocolate is melted to 45-50 degrees using a bain marie, microwave or -my favourite- a heating gun (found in most hardware stores and an ideal present for your other half that you can then steal!).
- Change bowl: transfer the melted chocolate into a bowl that has not been heated. You want to cool the chocolate, not the bowl. Wide low profile bowls work better than deep ones. Stainless steel bowls work best too.
- Use your sink: fill your sink with cold water to a level lower than the bowl height. Put the bowl in the sink and move the chocolate constantly using the sides of the bowl too. The larger the surface contact, the better. Make sure no water gets in the bowl as it will seize the chocolate instanly and turn it into a ganache.
- Use your senses: if you dont have a thermometer, simply put a dot of chocolate on your lower lip. Tempered chocolate should feel cool as it is below body temperature. When the chocolate is still liquid and feels cool, remove from sink quickly. Dry the base of the bowl and heat the outside of the bowl slightly with a heating gun which will give you a little bit more time to use the tempered chocolate. Do not heat the chocolate directly.
- If all fails: if your tempering is not perfect, dust your creations with cocoa powder, icing sugar, or gold dust; these will hide a multitude of sins.
Have a good tempered week,
Miss Anne, Chief Chocolate Adventurer