WATCH YOUR “TEMPER” CHOCOLATE
Picking off were we left off, with that wonderful “craft chocolate”, you made from hand picked cocoa beans….
Today we are going to discuss “tempering”, what does it mean and how do you do it. Furthermore, why do we do it? After becoming a certified pastry cook, not unlike being a chef, doctor, lawyer, it’s time to decide what path or discipline we would like to pursue mastery in. Myself, I’m a certified pastry cook, and as of yet have not pursued that next level. I do have a working knowledge of sugar, chocolate and a few other disciplines. Over the next few days I will share my knowledge on chocolate work. To be honest, not my favorite to work with…don’t get me wrong, I love chocolate! I personally find it a messy medium, unlike sugar work…which I adore.
Cocoa butter is the fat in the cacao bean that gives chocolate its unique mouth-feel and stable properties. To be considered “real” chocolate, a chocolate bar or chunk can contain only cocoa butter, not any other fat. Cocoa butter is the reason why you have to “temper” real chocolate.
Cocoa butter is fat that is composed of three to four glycerides of fatty acids. What complicates matters in chocolate making is that each of these different fatty acids solidifies at a different temperature. Once you melt a chocolate bar, the fatty acid crystals separate. The objective in tempering melted chocolate is to entice the disparate fatty acid crystals of cocoa butter back into one stable form.
Tempering is like organizing individual dancers at a party into a Conga line. In chocolate tempering, temperature and motion are the party organizers that bring all the individual dancing crystals of fatty acids together in long lines and, in the process, create a stable crystallization throughout the chocolate mass.
In the tempering process, melted chocolate is first cooled, causing the fatty acid crystals to form nuclei around which the other fatty acids will crystallize. Once the crystals connect, the temperature is then raised to keep them from solidifying.
Also, strange as it may sound, the temperature at which well-tempered chocolate melts is much higher than untempered chocolate because the fatty acid crystals in tempered chocolate are locked together tightly—it takes a higher temperature to pull them apart. Being tightly bound, well-tempered chocolate is resistant to developing chocolate bloom—that whitish film, streaks or spots of cocoa butter that form on the surface of chocolate.
METHODS OF TEMPERING
SEEDING – BEST METHOD
In this method, chocolate is melted, then more chocolate is chopped and added to “seed” the melted chocolate. The stable crystals in the chopped chocolate encourage the formation of stable beta crystals in the melted chocolate. Stirring is very important, to keep the smallest beta crystals possible in suspension.
At that point, the chocolate must be cooled to 88° to 90°F (27°C) while being stirred continuously. If your bowl of chocolate contains any chunks at that temperature, gently warm it to melt the remaining chunks. You can do this over warm water, or even with a hair dryer. If the chocolate is too warm, you can add some more chunks, a few at a time, while stirring to cool to the correct working temperature.
After cooling, the chocolate is kept at its working temperature for dipping, pouring, spreading, or piping.
BLOCK METHOD – EASIEST!
In this method, a large chunk of tempered chocolate is added to warm, melted chocolate and stirred until the melted chocolate is cooled to temper. Once the melted chocolate is brought to temper, the block is removed and can be reused. This method is simple but slightly more time consuming. It has the advantage of having an easily discernible chunk of chocolate that you can remove from your working, melted chocolate.
TABLING – HARDEST
This method is used for relatively small amounts of chocolate; confectioners like it because it’s fast and efficient. To temper chocolate by tabling, melt the chocolate to 122°F/50°C for dark and 105°F/40°C for milk or white to remove all existing cocoa butter crystals. Pour 1/2 to 2/3 of the melted chocolate onto a scrupulously clean and absolutely dry marble slab. It’s then spread back and forth with a metal spatula until it begins to thicken. As this happens, it begins to take on a paste-like consistency and dull color as the beta crystals begin to form. This mass is then added back to the remaining melted chocolate to seed and cool it, stirring constantly. After the chocolate is brought to temper, it’s maintained at working temperature (remember to stir frequently): 86° to 90°F/30° to 32°C.
So now that we have a working knowledge of tempering, join me on Friday to put some chocolate to work! Let’s see if your future might be as a “chocolatier”. Chocolate work, beyond being a pastry cook, takes years to master. If you would like more information on this subject, or anything pastry related, join me in my “FREE” cooking & baking program! Just register for a free membership, or if you prefer to get access to all my content on this site, one of the very reasonable paid options. Included in the GOLD membership will be access to the second year ADVANCED CULINARY & PASTRY ARTS PROGRAM. Feel free to call me 613-922-9168, or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org for more information! Cheers!