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seawakim

Tempering Chocolate

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I know how to temper chocolate, but when I have to dip something, I lose temper.  I think it's because the temperature lowers as I dip things into it (before I realize it), or perhaps what I'm dipping is too wet?

For the last two years, I've dipped brandied cherries (air dried a bit) wrapped in fondant the consistency of sticky, mold-able dough.  Perhaps even that is too moist?  Every couple of dips, I check the temp, stir, reheat, stir.  I guess I'm looking for one of three things.

1) The obvious thing I'm doing wrong that I'm missing.

2)  A great guide (book, URL...) for dipping chocolates

3)  The best, inexpensive tempering machine you know of.

They taste good, but half of them look...well... :unsure:

When you say they look...well... how do they actually look? Are you getting streaks, lumps, haze?

I know if I am backing off a lot of plates that have moist centres in them that the chocolate gets lumpy when it gets contaminated with the moisture.

Other question, are you dipping cold centers, ie have you refrigerated the fondant dipped cherries to facilitate dipping, if so you may be interfering with the temper.

And as Robert asked, did you check your temper before starting to dip? Temperature is an excellent guide, but even if you do everything right, sometimes you just don't grow the beta crystals you need and the chocolate you are working with may not be in temper. I find that either putting a bit of chocolate on a piece of parchment or dipping my offset spatula in the chocolate and checking to see that it hardens in a matter of minutes reassures me that my chocolate is in temper.

An excellent book on dipping, old as dirt, but fabulous is Anita Prichards Complete Candy Cookbook.

As to a tempering machine, I gave mine up because it was too noisy. I temper in a pyrex 8 cup measuring cup in the microwave (or if I have tons to do I use a 6 kg Mol d'Art melter).

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When you temper chocolate with the "seeding" method...the one you described...you only need to bring the chocolate down to about 88-90 degrees and then remove whatever chunks of tempered chocolate have not melted...

You want to bring it down to around 80 when you are NOT seeding...that will create the crystals around that temp and then you bring it back up to 88-90....

Make sure you bring the temp of the chocolate up high enough in the first place or you might have nasty left over crystals that are not what we want....I bring my dark up to 115-120....

Robert

Chocolate Forum

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I agree with Kerry Beal, but I have another thought. When you temper your chocolate, make sure that the chocolate is as deep in the bowl as it can be, thus creating a smaller surface which will keep the chocolate warmer longer.

Its ok that the chocolate cools down, this will happen over time. Its common to have to rewarm the chocolate back up to the working temperature once the chocolate starts to thicken.

Have you ever tried making the fondant cherries in a mold? Line a ridged mold or other chocolate mold with chocolate and let harden. Drop your cherry or half cherry into each mold. Pipe fondont around and on top of the mold until just below the surface. Let set. Spread chocolate over the top of the molds and allow this to set. If your chocolate was tempered properly they should just pop out, and you have perfect chocolate covered cherries (no stems).

A tempering machine will only help you keep the chocolate warm and in temper. But as I mentioned, if you watch the chocolate and reheat it when necessary you shouldnt need a tempering machine. Although if you were making chocolates 2-3 days a week, then it would save you a lot of time.

Good luck!

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Since I am brand new to chocolate skills I am not offering expertise but I can relate my experience.

I tempered dark chocolate to dip orange peel too. I know it was in temper because I tested it. Furthermore, before I dipped the orange peel, I had poured a number of shells and they turned out just fine. I had plenty of chocolate to work with and kept it at 31-32C with the help of a hair dryer. My orange peel was dry and at room temperature. Nevertheless, about 20% of the dipped peel came out streaky while 80% came out just fine. Same chocolate, same peel, same temperature, same session. So I say it's the chocolate imps at work here!

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OK, you're all great, because this is what I was looking for. First, I was using a wide metal bowl, which I'm sure changed temperature far too often. I narrow, shallow glass container like Pyrex measuring cup seems perfect, Kerry, thanks. And Robert, I'll bookmark those temps you recommended because I want to do this again.

They were coming out some at correct temper, and some streaky, to answer the question.

I did make some in a mold, but only purchased 2 molds as an experiment. I think I'll go with those in the future, but I had a problem getting the bottom on (dripping, spreading the chocolate on what would end up being the bottom of the candy). As the chocolate dripped on, it would sometimes squish out the liquid fondant inside, thus making a hole and not creating a complete seal. Is it better to pipe it on or spread it on?

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OK, you're all great, because this is what I was looking for.  First, I was using a wide metal bowl, which I'm sure changed temperature far too often.  I narrow, shallow glass container like Pyrex measuring cup seems perfect, Kerry, thanks.  And Robert, I'll bookmark those temps you recommended because I want to do this again. 

They were coming out some at correct temper, and some streaky, to answer the question. 

I did make some in a mold, but only purchased 2 molds as an experiment.  I think I'll go with those in the future, but I had a problem getting the bottom on (dripping, spreading the chocolate on what would end up being the bottom of the candy).  As the chocolate dripped on, it would sometimes squish out the liquid fondant inside, thus making a hole and not creating a complete seal.  Is it better to pipe it on or spread it on?

Molding chocolate cherries to me is an advanced skill, right up there with the caramilk secret molding. I would suggest that first you get comfortable molding and backing off plates of chocolate centres that don't want to sqish out when you put chocolate on them. Learn how to work quickly and cleanly, getting a thin bottom on your molded chocolates. Once you feel confident with that, try the chocolate cherries.

I would probably make shells in about half your mold so you are working with a managable amount to start. Use a mold big enough to hold half a cherry comfortably, drain the cherry well so it is dry. Glue it to the bottom of the shell with chocolate (the future top of the chocolate). Pipe in your fondant mixture, you can leave it sit overnight to crust if it is dry enough. Underfill rather than overfill when dealing with these chocolates. Next day, with tempered chocolate that is at the top end of your working temp (ie is as thin as possible) quickly ladle a fairly large amount of chocolate over the mold, trying not to only half cover any cavity (this is when filling squishes out). I tend not to do a lot of tapping to remove bubbles with the very liquid centres or I get more leaks. A couple of quick scrapes to remove the excess chocolate. I don't scrape the excess back into the pool because with choc cherries it is often contaminated with fondant. Don't be surprised even with the best technique to get some leaking chocolates.

As far as the some streaky chocolates I'm going to link you to another thread where this was discussed in more detail. The discussion on cooling starts in detail at post#8 here. Essentially under certain conditions you are getting waves of crystallization and since crystallization is an exothermic (ie gives off heat) process it can overheat the chocolate next to it and drive it out of temper.

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Thanks again for these details.  I think I'll try these again next weekend!  I certainly have a lot of extra cherries sitting in brandy from the summer.

Put them out on paper towels to drain today. They'll be dry by next weekend.

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Let me begin by stating that I am a novice at tempering chocolate....I have tried tempering chocolate several times over the past week with no success. I am using the microwave with the seeding method and I have also tried the cold bath method. I have an IR thermometer and am sure that I am getting the chocolate to the right high and low temperatures. I stir alot to ensure even temperature through out the bowl. I am using a glass bowl. The chocolate pops out of the mold easily, but melts to the touch and is a little mushy if you squeeze it between your fingers. Why?

I think that the problem may be due to one of the following issues:

1. The chocolate that I am using...It is Ghirardelli Semisweet 60%, but it says baking instead of coveature. Could this be the problem. I am beginning to think that maybe baking chocolate can not be tempered?

2. Maybe I can not recognize when the chocolate is in temper, from lack of experience. I mold the chocolate immediately, within seconds of when I think it is in temper. Maybe it's not in temper?

3. Maybe I am not allowing the molds to set long enough. I was trying heart shaped molds of solid chocolate. Approximate diameter of 1/2 inch. I would put them immediately into the refrigerator for 10-15 minutes. Maybe that is not long enough?

My kitchen temperature averages 68-70 degrees farenheit, there is no humidity...I can not figure this out.

Any suggestions and/or comments will be greatly appreciated. -Thanks

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Let me begin by stating that I am a novice at tempering chocolate....I have tried tempering chocolate several times over the past week with no success.  I am using the microwave with the seeding method and I have also tried the cold bath method.  I have an IR thermometer and am sure that I am getting the chocolate to the right high and low temperatures.  I stir alot to ensure even temperature through out the bowl.  I am using a glass bowl.  The chocolate pops out of the mold easily, but melts to the touch and is a little mushy if you squeeze it between your fingers.  Why?

I think that the problem may be due to one of  the following issues:

1. The chocolate that I am using...It is Ghirardelli Semisweet 60%, but it says baking instead of coveature.  Could this be the problem.  I am beginning to think that maybe baking chocolate can not be tempered?

2. Maybe I can not recognize when the chocolate is in temper, from lack of experience.  I mold the chocolate immediately, within seconds of when I think it is in temper.  Maybe it's not in temper?

3. Maybe I am not allowing the molds to set long enough.  I was trying heart shaped molds of solid chocolate.  Approximate diameter of 1/2 inch.  I would put them immediately into the refrigerator for 10-15 minutes.  Maybe that is not long enough? 

My kitchen temperature averages 68-70 degrees farenheit, there is no humidity...I can not figure this out.

Any suggestions and/or comments will be greatly appreciated.  -Thanks

Hi, Indulge, and welcome to eGullet! You will get responses from folks far more experienced than I, but first off, the chocolate itself is not at fault. Ghiradelli 60% is in temper when you purchase it, and is retemperable. The only stuff that isn't really temperable is the "chocolate" candy wafers that are sold by craft stores such as Michaels and Hobby Lobby (Wilton is one brand).

With that said, the other immediate suggestion I have is, stop using your fridge to set the chocolate. As long as you have someplace to put the items at cool room temp, the chocolate will set as long as it has been properly tempered. Chocolate will set in the fridge whether it's been tempered or not, so you can easily be misled!

After you melt, seed, and stir your chocolate down to the target temp, do a test by smearing a swatch of chocolate onto a piece of parchment or waxed paper in a cool-ish room (not in the kitchen if you've been baking bread, in other words). It should start to set up pretty quickly, and within a few minutes the surface should no longer be wet and shiny, but should look matte and dull.

When you're seeding your melted chocolate, you should add no more than 1/3 or so of the weight of the melted chocolate in solid chocolate. As you stir, once in a while lift your spatula and let the melted chocolate pour back into the bowl. Observe how the poured chocolate re-incorporates itself with the mass of melted chocolate. You will soon begin to recognize that the poured chocolate will ribbon and stay distinct on the surface of the melted chocolate for several seconds when it is in proper temper. If the poured chocolate is reincorporating and dissapearing quickly into the melted mass, it is still at too high a temp.

Finally, it can never hurt to check the calibration of your thermometer. When I started tempering chocolate, I tested the temperature by dabbing a bit on my upper lip. When the chocolate passed over from feeling warm-ish to feeling juuuuuust cool-ish, it was tempered. I have since confirmed this with a thermometer, but it's nice to have other indicators to work from. Keep practicing and good luck!

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I would put them immediately into the refrigerator for 10-15 minutes.  Maybe that is not long enough? 

Hi and welcome !

One think I can add is the fact that you put the molds in the fridge right away.We have been talking about that issue on another thread .The molds should be put in the fridge , if you decide so .only after the chocolate is starting to crystallise ( getting firm )at that point if you want to speed up the process you can pop it into the fridge ( but the fridge should be like at 50 F or not more than 20 degree lower than the temperature your work room is ).I suggest you skip the refrigeration and try to let them stay a t room temperature before you put them into the fridge eventually.

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It is well worth pointing out that IR thermometers are typically not calibrated very well. They can easily be off from 2-4 degrees F. This is especially the case for the IR thermometers that sell for say $60.00 or so. They do make accurate IR thermometers but they cost many hundreds of dollars. I spent about $130 or so for an IR thermometer that has a resolution of +-2 degrees F. I forget the brand (it is over at our chocolate factory) but, it has a fold out temperature probe and if you use that, you can get within one degree accuracy.

While I am at it, I should mention that this is the case with most digital thermometers. The problem with digital thermometers is that the thermocouple needs to be calibrated to the digital circuitry that reads the temperature. With modern mass manufacturing, they simply don't have the time to individually calibrate each thermometer. You can get them but again you are talking $300+ or so so that everything can be calibrated or manufactured to the required tolerances.

As Desiderio mentioned, you don't want to pop it into the refrigerator right away. In fact, that in itself can be a bit dangerous since unstable cocoa butter crystals can form at these lower temperatures. If you can get your room down to about 65 degrees F, that would be optimal.

Hope this helps,

-Art

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Yippee! I am so glad to hear that the chocolate is OK. Since I brought a large amount of it. Secondly, I can definitely get the temperature of the room down to 65 degrees.

I am so excited, because I recall testing the chocolate on the wax paper during one of my many attempts and it did turn "matte and dull".

I have also experienced the "ribbon" effect in the chocolate. So I must be on the right track.

I will definitedly stop rushing things and let the chocolate set at room temperature. I will give this a try and report back, hopefully with beautiful pictures of my chocolate jewels :)

Thank you for all of your help.

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Yippee!  I am so glad to hear that the chocolate is OK.  Since I brought a large amount of it.  Secondly, I can definitely get the temperature of the room down to 65 degrees.

I am so excited, because I recall testing the chocolate on the wax paper during one of my many attempts and it did turn "matte and dull".

I have also experienced the "ribbon" effect in the chocolate.  So I must be on the right track. 

I will definitedly stop rushing things and let the chocolate set at room temperature.  I will give this a try and report back, hopefully with beautiful pictures of my chocolate jewels :)

Thank you for all of your help.

I am smiling at your enthusiasm, Indulge! Your question was a timely one for me, as last night I decided to teach my sons (ages 8 & 10) to temper chocolate so that we could dip some toffees together. My hubby gave me a beautiful set of dipping forks for Christmas, and I hadn't had a chance to break them in yet. I showed my kids how to feel the temp by dabbing the chocolate on their upper lips, which tickled them to no end, needless to say.

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Thank you to everyone who posted a reply. I was finally able to temper the chocolate properly. My first success is a batch of solid, 60% Ghirardelli Semi Sweet hearts. I added a thin layer of Red Pearlised cocoa butter to the interior of the mold. The chocolates came out very shiny and did not melt to the touch. They where perfect.

Of course now I have to learn how to take better pictures...but that's a lesson for another day :)

I just wanted to say thank you!

gallery_52061_4245_1253976.jpg

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Hello everyone. I am a long time reader, first time poster. When using chocolate, I have always kept my chocolate warm at about 88 degrees. But how low can your temperature fall before your chocolate, say milk chocolate, falls out of temper?

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I don't think there's a magic, universal figure that will apply to every type and brand of chocolate out there. You more or less have to eyeball it.

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Temperature ranges vary per brand and type, but if you've already rewarmed your tempered chocolate to 88F...you should be fine in so far as keeping your temper intact. The unwanted crystal structure types which would form at lower temperatures are already taken care of in your rewarm to 88F...they will be melted out already. They will not reform as your temperature drops (assuming you have the chocolate well in temper with plenty of crystals already), because the chocolate has already achieved the desired (and more stable) structure.

All I'm saying is...letting it cool a bit won't harm your temper so much, but it will make the chocolate hard to work with as it thickens. Is there a reason you want a lower temperature, or is it just that you find walking the line around 88F difficult?

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There is no reason why I want to lower the temp, I just wondered how low it could go. Its just one of the things I have always wanted to know about chocolate, as I have heard that you can let it cool down so far that it nearly hardens, then reheat it and you will still be in temper as long as you don't heat the chocolate to a temp that is higher than 90. That sounded a little fishy to me when I heard it, so I thought I'd come here and ask!

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There is no reason why I want to lower the temp, I just wondered how low it could go. Its just one of the things I have always wanted to know about chocolate, as I have heard that you can let it cool down so far that it nearly hardens, then reheat it and you will still be in temper as long as you don't heat the chocolate to a temp that is higher than 90. That sounded a little fishy to me when I heard it, so I thought I'd come here and ask!

You can 'temper' chocolate by simply heating it carefully so it never gets higher than it's working temperature when you start with tempered chocolate. Tempered block chocolate is 99+% beta crystals when you start.

I have had chocolate cool down considerably until almost solid, then heated it back up to somewhere in the working temperature range so that it is thin enough to work with and still get good contraction, shine and snap.

By the way, welcome to eG.

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There is no reason why I want to lower the temp, I just wondered how low it could go. Its just one of the things I have always wanted to know about chocolate, as I have heard that you can let it cool down so far that it nearly hardens, then reheat it and you will still be in temper as long as you don't heat the chocolate to a temp that is higher than 90. That sounded a little fishy to me when I heard it, so I thought I'd come here and ask!

Kerry Beal is right. Once your chocolate is in temper, even if it cools considerably, you can just re-heat it as long as you don't exceed your top temper range. For dark chocolate, your target range to keep the chocolate workable should be 87 to 91. For milk or white chocolate, your temp range should be 84 to 87. Of course, as we've said, the low range isn't an issue because you can just heat it back up (slowly and carefully). It's the high range that you have to be very careful about. If you exceed the upper limit just slightly, you should re-test your temper because you might still be there.

If you're working with the chocolate for a long time in the temper range, especially if you're stirring a lot, you can actually become over-tempered. The chocolate gets really thick even though it is at the high end of the temper range. What's happening is you have too many of the crystals and they thicken the chocolate. To fix this just melt your chocolate to 110-120 to dissolve all the crystals and re-temper.

At least, that's been my somewhat limited experience.

Good luck!

Sean

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If you're working with the chocolate for a long time in the temper range, especially if you're stirring a lot, you can actually become over-tempered.  The chocolate gets really thick even though it is at the high end of the temper range.  What's happening is you have too many of the crystals and they thicken the chocolate.  To fix this just melt your chocolate to 110-120 to dissolve all the crystals and re-temper.

At least, that's been my somewhat limited experience.

Good luck!

Sean

You don't necessarily have to retemper the chocolate when it thickens.

When you have an overabundance of stable beta crystals and your chocolate becomes thick at normal working temperatures you can actually push the temperature up without losing temper. It can go as high as 34.5 C for dark, 32.5 for milk and 30.5 for white (sorry I don't think in fahranheit anymore). Another alternative is to add chocolate of about the same temperature but that is not in temper in order to dilute the beta crystals and make the chocolate less viscous.

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You don't necessarily have to retemper the chocolate when it thickens.

When you have an overabundance of stable beta crystals and your chocolate becomes thick at normal working temperatures you can actually push the temperature up without losing temper.  It can go as high as 34.5 C for dark, 32.5 for milk and 30.5 for white (sorry I don't think in fahranheit anymore).  Another alternative is to add chocolate of about the same temperature but that is not in temper in order to dilute the beta crystals and make the chocolate less viscous.

Thanks for the tip! I'm just getting started with chocolate, so it's great to hear different ways of dealing with issues.

ICE teaches in Fahrenheit, so that's where my head is at for now. I'm sure I'll start to switch over to Celsius as I get out into the industry and start working.

Sean

[Edited for misspelling]


Edited by naes (log)

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I don't have enough moulds to make all the chocolates in need in 1 go, but i only have use of hte digital probe for a couple of days. Can I temper a large batch and melt it as required without it going out of temper ?

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I don't have enough moulds to make all the chocolates in need in 1 go, but i only have use of hte digital probe for a couple of days. Can I temper a large batch and melt it as required without it going out of temper ?

Probably not. The window of temper is pretty small. If you can't keep your full chocolate mass in temper during your work session, you'll need to retemper as needed.

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      3. Learn simple decoration (cocoa butter colour, texture sheets etc) early on.  These make a big difference to how everyone will react to your work.
       
      4. Don't rush.  Chocolate making takes a lot of (elapsed) time.  Give things time to crystallise properly.  I find there is always an endless amount of cleaning-up to do while I wait :-)
       
       
    • By JohnT
      I have heard over the years of bakers using beetroot in chocolate cakes to "enrich" them. I have never done this and I am not too fond of beetroot in its various forms (a childhood "thing"). However, I have been requested to bake a chocolate cake using "beetroot juice" in the recipe - the person requesting the cake even supplied me with the recipe!
       
      Right, this is a first time for me doing this and I need to make a sample cake to make sure it results in an edible cake. The recipe calls for 250ml (a metric cup) beetroot juice. So my question is, how would I produce a cup of this beetroot juice? Just wiz a few raw beets in a blender and strain out the juice? Do I boil the beets first or use them raw? Ignorance is sometimes bliss - but sometimes not.
       
      Help with this dilemma would be appreciated for this beet ignorant sod in "Darkest Africa".
      John.
    • By Kasia
      MILLET GROATS CHOCOLATE CREME WITH CRANBERRY MOUSSE
       
      Today I would like to share with you the recipe for the best chocolate crème I have ever eaten. It is thick, smooth and very chocolaty in flavour and colour. Despite the chocolate, the dessert isn't too sweet. But if somebody thinks that it is, I recommend serving it with slightly sour fruit mousse. You can use cherries, currants or cranberries. You will make an unusually yummy arrangement and your dessert will look beautiful.

      My children were delighted with this dessert. I told them about the fact it had been made with millet groats after they had eaten it, and ... they didn't believe me. Next time I will prepare the millet groats crème with a double portion of ingredients.

      Ingredients (for 4 people)
      chocolate crème
      100g of millet groats
      200g of dark chocolate
      1 tablespoon of dark cocoa
      250ml of almond milk
      fruit mousse
      250g of fresh cranberries
      juice and peel of one orange
      half a teaspoon of grated ginger
      4 tablespoons of brown sugar

      Boil the millet groats in salty water and drain them. Melt the chocolate in a bain-marie. Blend the millet groats, chocolate, cocoa and milk very thoroughly until you have very smooth crème. Pour the milk in gradually to make the right consistency of your desert. Prepare the fruit mousse. Put the washed cranberries, ginger, juice orange peel and sugar into a pot. Boil until the fruits are soft. Blend. Put the chocolate crème into some small bowls. Put the fruit mousse on top. Decorate with peppermint leaves. Serve at once or chilled.

      Enjoy your meal!


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