Today is the big day. You gathered all the tools needed and you are ready to start. Get your apron (yes, it might be a bit messy the first few times) and let's start!
We will split this into 3 steps: tempering, moulding and filling.
You will be able to find steps two and three on our site here. For now, let's focus on getting shiny and snappy chocolate with mastering the tempering process.
What is chocolate tempering?
Tempering or pre-crystallization of chocolate is a technique that allows controlling the formation of cocoa crystals in your preparation. You won't be able to see the actual crystal, but they will completely change the structure of your chocolate to make it shiny, solid and snappy. It is required to get an amazing shining effect and a good consistency.
See this picture to understand the difference between tempered and un-tempered chocolate.
Now you can see why it's important to temper chocolate and use high-quality moulds.
What do we need?
You will need a few basic tools (list and details here). You will also need chocolate.
You can temper different types of chocolate (milk, dark, white). We recommend you use special chocolate made for this. Do not use regular chocolate chips as they contain additives to keep their shape. That will prevent them to temper properly.
World renown chocolate company Chocolat Barry has a line (Pureté) that is now easily available in groceries, in 1kg bags. You can find them in Canada in IGA, Aubut and many other stores.
How to temper chocolate
There is actually more than one method to temper chocolate. For beginers, we recommend the following method using a thermometer to control the melting and tempering process carefully. As we are dealing with temperature control, note, that it's easier with larger quantities. If you try to temper small quantities of chocolate, you make the whole process harder. We recommend you start with 250g of chocolate.
Step one : melt the chocolate on a bain-marie
- Place two-thirds (175g if you started with 250g) of the chocolate in a metal bowl set over a saucepan with 1 inches of simmering water. The bottom of the bowl should never touch the water.
- Keep stirring with a spatula to evenly distribute the heat. Place the prong of the thermometer in the chocolate and keep an eye on the temperature.
- Chocolate will start to melt quickly. Do not let the temperature get higher than 120°F for dark chocolate or 105°F for milk or white chocolate. When the chocolate has fully melted, remove the bowl from heat. Clean up the bowl to keep it dry. Chocolate and water really don't mix well! Always keep everything dry.
Step two: cool down and crystalization.
- Slowly add the remaining chocolate. Let it melt before adding more.
- Check your thermometer. Your chocolate needs to cool down to 82°F. If it is warmer, keep stirring gently. If it get too cold, you can move to the next step.
- It is time to get it fluid enough to mould it. Simply put the bowl on the saucepan. For dark chocolate, reheat between 88°F to 91°F. (Milk and white chocolate : 85°F to 87°F).
Step three: test and use
- Time to test your tempering. Spread a small amount of chocolate on a piece of wax paper or the tip of a knife. It should dry under 3 minutes with a glossy finish and no streaks. If not, don't worry, just try the process at step 1 (don't need to add more chocolate, you just need to respect temperature).
- It's easier to reheat a little your tempered chocolate so it is fluid enough to easily be moulded. For dark chocolate, reheat and keep at temperatures between 88°F and 91°F. For milk and white chocolate, reheat to 87°F to 88°F.
Few extra tips
- Once tempered, you need to use chocolate before it cools and sets. If it has completely cooled and solidified, it should be re-tempered. It means that you can restart the process with any excess chocolate after moulding. Keep the tempered chocolat.
- In almost all cases, you can always restart the process with the chocolate you already used. Chocolate is not altererd by the process, so you can try again without wasting any. First you melt (under 120F) then you cool down (to 82F) then you reheat and liquify (90F).
What could go wrong?
Chocolate HATES water. Contact with the least amount of water will destroy your chocolate. You will only get a grainy finish that can not be recovered. Make sure you keep your working station and tools dry at all times.
You can call it burning, even if you don't really see the difference. When heated over 145°F (62°C) your chocolate will break down, lose some of its taste and won't really be recoverable. So keep an eye on the thermometer and never let the water boil or touch the bottom of the bowl
If your chocolate temperature gets below 81°F in the cooling phase, it will form too many "lower crystals". It won't be good for the structure. Good news is that you can simply start over and heat it back up to 120°F. Just better check your thermometer next time!
Perfect, you now have a bowl of perfectly melted and tempered chocolate. Time to mould it in amazing shapes!