chococolate decorating tutorials

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Wednesday, December 1, 2010

How to Temper Chocolate the Easy Way.

Tempering chocolate doesn't have to be a drag if you follow these easy steps. I will explain, plain and simple and demonstrate how to temper chocolate the easy way by using the seeding method, the easiest method I have found thus far. But first, WHAT the heck IS chocolate tempering and WHY is it so important ?

How to Temper Chocolate the Easy Way 
digital video download $13
It's a quicktime file 7 minutes long
file size about 125 mb

Tempering chocolate is the process of raising and lowering the temperature of the chocolate to very precise degrees and this ensures your chocolate will harden properly, have a nice perky snap and a lovely sheen. It has something to do with the cocoa butter in chocolate freaking out when the chocolate gets melted, supposedly tempering restabilizes the cocoa butter crystals back into their proper format ( the way they were before the big melt down ).... but who cares about all that gobbledygook, you just need to do it.
Untempered chocolate
Interesting... but not the look we're going for

You must temper chocolate when making fancy chocolate decorations, ( however it is not necessary to temper when baking with chocolate.). If you don't temper chances are your chocolate will stay soft and may become spotty and white. Also,  If you do any kind of molding with chocolate such as making confections, and don't temper first, the chocolate will stick to the mold, and trust me, you will not be happy when this happens.  In fact you'll loose YOUR temper. Just try melting with out tempering, letting your chocolate set and see what happens.  See I told ya so !

Pretty... but not what I had in mind

If you plan on becoming a pro chocolatier, you'll need to master the tempering process. I'm a home chocolatier / decorator, and I use a very simple method that works fine for me. I've tried different methods and like the seeding method the best. Several methods are available so you can experiment.  

It's up to you how much time you want to spend learning to temper ( I'm not an expert and like to keep it as painless as possible, and spend more time creating ), and different tempering techniques could yield different results, i.e. chocolate with a higher gloss etc. Also it's a good idea to check with the brand of chocolate to see if they have any suggestions for tempering their chocolate. The heating and cooing temperatures sometimes vary per brand. I use Guittard chocolate for dark and milk and El Rey for white.  And I have good luck with the directions provided.

Nicely tempered chocolate
How to Temper Chocolate the Easy Way 
digital video download $13
it's a quicktime file 7 minutes long
file size about 125 mb

First of all, you need a good chocolate thermometer. I've recommended one for you that is inexpensive and easy to use.  

1.  Divide and Chop:
Let's say you have 1 pound of chocolate. Divide off 1/3 of the amount and chop the hell out of it, This is a good time to vent any frustrations that may have been building up over the last few days.  it needs to be finely chopped. Set this aside.
2.  Melt but don't Burn:
Melt the rest in a double boiler or the microwave, when I use the microwave I use a plastic bowl because glass heats up very quickly and and this increases the chance of over heating . For Dark melt to about 115 degrees and milk / white 104 degrees.

chocolate burns easily, so keep an eye on it and remember to stir 
so the bottom does not get too hot. 
Don't heat higher than 115-120 degrees for dark ( 104 degrees for milk and white ) 
or you'll be screwed.

3.  Stir Stir Stir:
Stir, and really make sure you scrape the sides of the bowl, chocolate should now be melted, but don't eat it because trust me, you'll want to at this point. It will look mesmerizingly decadent and smell intoxicatingly delicious. You can finger dip once or twice to sample, but remember this is a lesson on how to temper chocolate, so save the pigging out for later :)

4.   Cool Cool Cool: 
Now you'll want to start cooling down the chocolate. Add in a small amount of the chopped chocolate you set aside ( say about a quarter of the amount ) and stir until melted.

5.   Temper and Enjoy:
Keep adding in the chopped chocolate and stirring until you reach 88-91 degrees for dark, for milk/white 85 degrees. ( just dip your thermometer in the chocolate and swirl it around a few times, and be sure to clean it with a paper towel after each use ). Use most or all of the chopped chocolate bits.

Take your time, because the gentle stirring and slow cooling down is very important. 
This part takes a while.... but what's the rush anyway?
so think happy thoughts, 
take time to enjoy the moment, 
inhale the gloriousness of aroma, 
gaze into the reflection of the melted chocolate 
and repeat this mantra several times
" My life is nothing less than chocolate covered perfection "
" My life is nothing less than chocolate covered perfection "
" My life is nothing less than chocolate covered perfection "

DON'T  forget to stir and test the temperature, and really scrape the sides of the bowl with your spatula, this keep the cocoa butter crystals happy.

You can test the temper by smearing some chocolate on wax paper and refrigerating for 5 minutes, when removed, chocolate should have a perky snap when broken apart and a nice sheen.
Now would be a nice time to dip some dried fruit !

It takes about 20-30 minutes to temper chocolate depending on how much you have.

A lot of people shy away from working with chocolate because of having to temper, which is a shame. You always have the option of buying a small table top tempering machine, they run $350-$400 and up...way up.
How to Temper Chocolate the Easy Way 
digital video download $13
It's a quicktime file 7 minutes long
file size about 125 mb

If you would like my How to Temper Chocolate digital video download that also includes tips on keeping chocolate warm, the use of confectionary coating and my award winning chocolate nosh recipe. It's available for $15. This is the same chocolate tempering segment that is on my Instructional DVD The Chocolate Addict volume 1, The Chocolate Garden, however download does NOT include the other tutorials from the DVD such as making dessert cups, butterflies, leaves,helpful tools etc. You can buy the full length DVD here.

If you have questions let me know, I MIGHT have the answer :)


Victoria (The District Chocoholic) said...

Wow, so informative and easy-to-follow. I still have problems with tempering. Also, I love the way you wrote step 1 "chop the hell out of it." Excellent.

The Chocolate Addict said...

hey, thanks ! , yeah works better if you really chop the hell out of it :)

Happy Holidays!

MerryJohnson said...

Wow!Its an amazing blog.
The best blog i have ever read.
Nice blog on chocolate tempering machine.
Thanks for sharing.
Keep sharing more and more.