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seawakim

Tempering Chocolate

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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.

That's correct.

*emphasis added

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but that doesn't mean that you need a thermometer to maintain temper.

if you're practiced enough to get the feel of the chocolate while you do have the thermometer, you should be able to temper without it.

i never use a thermometer but always test the temper before i fill molds etc. don't usually have any problems. while temperature is important, it isn't the only factor that affects your temper: time and agitation are also important as long as you have the proper seed crystals developed in your chocolate.

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Must have been beginner's luck because the temper came out perfectly - I have tempered dark chocolate (a long time ago) but never milk before. Really really pleased, will post a piccie when I get a chance.

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Must have been beginner's luck because the temper came out perfectly - I have tempered dark chocolate (a long time ago) but never milk before. Really really pleased, will post a piccie when I get a chance.

I love beginner's luck -- well done!

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but that doesn't mean that you need a thermometer to maintain temper.

if you're practiced enough to get the feel of the chocolate while you do have the thermometer, you should be able to temper without it.

i never use a thermometer but always test the temper before i fill molds etc.  don't usually have any problems.  while temperature is important, it isn't the only factor that affects your temper: time and agitation are also important as long as you have the proper seed crystals developed in your chocolate.

I want to second that opinion.

One of the reasons I stopped using a thermometer when hand tempering is not because I'm showing off my skills (well, maybe a little :biggrin: ) but because here even in the temperate (no pun intended) weather of San Diego, as humidity and other random conditions vary (air pressure? butterfly flapping its wings nearby?) , how long the chocolate is usable and how well it otherwise behaves (e.g. issues with sugar bloom) also varies, plus its a good way to learn how far you can go... even though the window is indeed narrow, it's not as inflexible as you might worry about.

Also, sometimes I'll semi-randomly mix couvertures to vary intensity or just to average taste. (For example, I've learned some batches of El Rey don't taste exactly the same as the next batch... I still like Venezuelan chocolate the best, but their at-site cacao farmer quality control is probably random.) In that case, my mix may not be at the exact temperature specifications given... in fact, I may have no way of knowing.

Also, being able to work with the chocolate by hand also allows you more flexibility in how you temper, because really there are a million ways you can get there. For example, Michael Antonorsi of Chuao Chocolatier once suggested to me & my classmates that instead of seeding with discs, seed with a giant block of chocolate and stir until tempered. Then just fish the block out when you're ready, which avoids having to worry about unmelted chunks. If you can recognize the temper by feel, it's much easier to pull something like that off.

Just blindly raising to temperature X and lowering to temperature Y and agitating, and/or mixing N grams of melted chocolate at temperature Z is a recipe for self-torment in the long run. Besides, playing with melted chocolate should be FUN. :raz:

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What is everyones preferred method of tempering their chocolate??

Diane

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What is everyones preferred method of tempering their chocolate??

Diane

I've gone through different phases in my tempering life, but right now my favorite is the seed method. I've been using a coverture that is in a disc form, and that seems to be the simplest cleanest way to temper.

For tiny amounts I'll temper on a slab.

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Table for anything up to a half hotel pan or block for larger batches....I like the block method b/c it reminds me of those infomercials....set it and forget it....

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I've been tempering chocolate using the seeding method in my chocolate melter for the past year without a problem, but all of a sudden today, I can't get a decent temper! Whenever I temper, the chocolate looks very grainy and streaky; one batch of bloomed chocolate is so light it almost looks like milk chocolate. It's become pretty cold in LA (well, for LA -- it's probably around 60 in the kitchen, maybe lower), and I'm wondering if that is affecting the temper? Is it setting too quickly? Has anyone had issues tempering in a cold kitchen? It was also raining today (though now it's stopped), but I'm not sure if humidity was a factor.

I've tried tempering with minimal amount of seed and keeping the temp around 90-91, but it doesn't seem to help really.

Any help would be appreciated!

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I've been tempering chocolate using the seeding method in my chocolate melter for the past year without a problem, but all of a sudden today, I can't get a decent temper!  Whenever I temper, the chocolate looks very grainy and streaky; one batch of bloomed chocolate is so light it almost looks like milk chocolate.  It's become pretty cold in LA (well, for LA -- it's probably around 60 in the kitchen, maybe lower), and I'm wondering if that is affecting the temper?    Is it setting too quickly?  Has anyone had issues tempering in a cold kitchen?  It was also raining today (though now it's stopped), but I'm not sure if humidity was a factor.

I've tried tempering with minimal amount of seed and keeping the temp around 90-91, but it doesn't seem to help really.

Any help would be appreciated!

What is the condition of the chocolate before starting? Is it looking bloomed in the bag? If so you might need to take it to a higher temperature before seeding.

Humidity can certainly interfere with temper and an unusual room temperature adds a complication.

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I've been tempering chocolate using the seeding method in my chocolate melter for the past year without a problem, but all of a sudden today, I can't get a decent temper!  Whenever I temper, the chocolate looks very grainy and streaky; one batch of bloomed chocolate is so light it almost looks like milk chocolate.  It's become pretty cold in LA (well, for LA -- it's probably around 60 in the kitchen, maybe lower), and I'm wondering if that is affecting the temper?    Is it setting too quickly?  Has anyone had issues tempering in a cold kitchen?  It was also raining today (though now it's stopped), but I'm not sure if humidity was a factor.

I've tried tempering with minimal amount of seed and keeping the temp around 90-91, but it doesn't seem to help really.

Any help would be appreciated!

What is the condition of the chocolate before starting? Is it looking bloomed in the bag? If so you might need to take it to a higher temperature before seeding.

Humidity can certainly interfere with temper and an unusual room temperature adds a complication.

If your seed chocolate is not already in temper then I don't think you can even use the seed method - you'll have to table it. And I agree with Kerry, you may have to take the initial batch up to, say, 60C to ensure that you've melted out all the bad crystals.

I always have lots of trouble when my workspace is much below 68F, though I know there are some here that often work in a cold kitchen.

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Sorry, to clarify, my melted chocolate is starting at 115 and I'm using pistoles straight from the box to seed it; the pistoles are in fine condition. I also tried taking the melted chocolate up to 120 yesterday, but the resulting temper after seeding didn't improve.

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When I learned chocolate at school it was the middle of winter in Chicago and the kitchens used to get down to 32 degrees when the first class came in first thing in the morning (luckily I was in the afternoon class!). I used to have to wear 2 undershirts to keep from shivering. At work now, our chocolate room has excellent air conditioning, including a vent right above next to where we keep the chocolate warmer (unlike the rest of the bakeshop where they haven't hooked up the hood above the oven. Hm.) However, I still learned how to temper chocolate in the cold! It is possible...

Some tips- use a plastic bowl instead of a metal bowl, as it will insulate the chocolate better. Also, put something between your bowl and cold work surface to stop the chocolate at the bottom of the bowl from setting up immediately (a smaller bowl works well, as does a folded up towel). Also, keep a hairdryer handy. I also usually bring the temperature of the chocolate up slightly over 50C/122F (evidently there's a reason the mol d'art melters go up to 60C) the first time and find that it's okay to bring it up even slightly over 33C/91.4F without losing temper after taking it down to 27C/80.6F in between. The humidity here in the winter is usually around 70%.

Obviously make sure you use a thermometer with a probe and calibrate it regularly. I prefer to table but when I seed I chop up the chocolate in the food processor to help the pistoles melt faster. I usually let chocolate set in the freezer without any trouble.

I promise you that tempering in the cold is better than tempering in the hot humid summer when the air conditioning isn't working! :)

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Sorry, to clarify, my melted chocolate is starting at 115 and I'm using pistoles straight from the box to seed it; the pistoles are in fine condition.  I also tried taking the melted chocolate up to 120 yesterday, but the resulting temper after seeding didn't improve.

Have you tried switching thermometers? Maybe you're not really hitting the temps you think you're hitting?

(I can imagine how frustrating this would be, so I hope that you've figured out something by now!)

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Okay, so reading through this thread, I have some inclinations, but just want to feel better about my inclinations.

I am a total novice at tempering chocolate. I'm using the seed method, using a very dark chocolate (over 80%). I assumed I would have a higher working temperature, but I'm not sure.

In dipping the ganaches, I started at about 92 degrees. I assumed with such a dark chocolate that the working temp would be higher. Obviously I need to get a feel for what "in temper" looks like. I'm using a pyrex bowl over a light simmer to melt the chocolate, getting it above 115 then taking it off the steam. I used an inexpensive IR thermometer, so perhaps that's part of my problem as well.

In laying out the dipped chocolates, it seemed like the ones where the temp was higher all streaked and bloomed. By the time I was finished, the temp was reading about 85. Seemed like between 85 and 88 the chocolates came out best, though not especially shiny and there are some very light streaks in all of them (you have to get the light up to them at a low angle to notice), though no blooming in the later pieces.

It's a humid day today (raining), but my kitchen was right around 70.

Am I getting moisture in my chocolate? Fat from the ganache? Or is it just that I haven't gotten a good temper yet and need to practice more on finding the right feel and temperature? How long should 6 oz of chocolate in a glass bowl stay in temper in a 70 degree kitchen as it's being used for dipping? Should I be moving it back and forth from the steam to keep it in range? Are the mid-pieces without bloom even tempered or just less ugly un-tempered chocolate?


Edited by ExtraMSG (log)

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Okay, so reading through this thread, I have some inclinations, but just want to feel better about my inclinations. 

I am a total novice at tempering chocolate.  I'm using the seed method, using a very dark chocolate (over 80%).  I assumed I would have a higher working temperature, but I'm not sure.

In dipping the ganaches, I started at about 92 degrees.  I assumed with such a dark chocolate that the working temp would be higher.  Obviously I need to get a feel for what "in temper" looks like.  I'm using a pyrex bowl over a light simmer to melt the chocolate, getting it above 115 then taking it off the steam.  I used an inexpensive IR thermometer, so perhaps that's part of my problem as well.

In laying out the dipped chocolates, it seemed like the ones where the temp was higher all streaked and bloomed.  By the time I was finished, the temp was reading about 85.  Seemed like between 85 and 88 the chocolates came out best, though not especially shiny and there are some very light streaks in all of them (you have to get the light up to them at a low angle to notice), though no blooming in the later pieces.

It's a humid day today (raining), but my kitchen was right around 70.

Am I getting moisture in my chocolate?  Fat from the ganache?  Or is it just that I haven't gotten a good temper yet and need to practice more on finding the right feel and temperature?  How long should 6 oz of chocolate in a glass bowl stay in temper in a 70 degree kitchen as it's being used for dipping?  Should I be moving it back and forth from the steam to keep it in range?  Are the mid-pieces without bloom even tempered or just less ugly un-tempered chocolate?

The working temperature will be the same regardless of the percentage of the chocolate. As time goes on during the day and you have a bowl with more beta crystals in it you can push the temperature up - as high as 34.5C for dark chocolate.

Sounds like you were just working at too high a temperature and therefore weren't in temper. A high percentage chocolate might be thicker than a lower percentage at the same temperature - all depends how much of the 80% is cocoa solids and how much is cocoa butter.

I find a heat gun helpful in keeping the chocolate warm or 6 second spurts in the microwave. Small amounts of chocolate cool faster than large masses do.

If the middle pieces are still a bit streaky then they are probably just less untempered than the really streaky pieces.

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One way to get the feel for a particular type of chocolate is to melt it out completely. Raise it up to 105F for an hour and you won't have any crystals at all.

Now stir it around, lift up a ladle full and let it pour out and pool. Watch how much it bunches up and how long it takes to settle down flat again. That is as thin as it will ever be, so if you want it that thin or thinner you will need to add cocoa butter and get the feel again.

Now seed it. Use just enough fresh chocolate to get a good temper test. Then repeat the above feel exercise to imprint what "Tempered" feels and looks like for this chocolate. When you notice it acting thicker you will know that you should melt out some of the excess crystals.

Since dark chocolate crystalizes at 94F and you will be holding it around 92F it will continue to thicken over time. That is why you can briefly run it up to 95-96F. Some of the extra crystals will melt out, but it takes time for them to melt and in doing so they will lower the temperature back down.

I like to make the ice water analogy in my classes. Imagine you have ice cubes floating in a water bath at 30F and a room temperature of 25F. Over time the ice will grow and use up the water. Now you can heat up the water to 36F and the ice won't immediatley melt, some of it will melt and lower the temperature back down to 32F. Only if you keep adding more heat for a long time will all the ice melt out. If you stir the water the ice will melt faster than if you just let it sit still.

Tempering isn't as good a term as pre-crystalization because it is about three things: Temperature, Time, and Movement. Just running the water up to 36F and immediately taking the temperature might convince you that all the ice was gone if you couldn't see it and didn't know that it takes time AT temperature to have an effect. That's why so many people are frustrated working with chocolate, they only consider one of the three aspects of crystalization.

Now it's much easier with ice because you can see the crystals, but it's the same with chocolate. Actually to complete the analogy you have to add dirt to the water to make mud. The dirt represents the cocoa solids and the water cocoa butter. The proportion of water to dirt determines how viscous it's going to be when "in temper".

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Thanks. I think I read somewhere about someone using a heating pad to keep the bowl warm. I think my wife has one and I'll have to break it out.

Comparing them to some quality professional chocolates by Theo and John DePaula today, I think I was being a little hard on them. I think I just expected them to be shinier like molded chocolates if they were truly done right. But I think that's just an unrealistic expectation.

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Thanks.  I think I read somewhere about someone using a heating pad to keep the bowl warm.  I think my wife has one and I'll have to break it out.

Comparing them to some quality professional chocolates by Theo and John DePaula today, I think I was being a little hard on them.  I think I just expected them to be shinier like molded chocolates if they were truly done right.  But I think that's just an unrealistic expectation.

Dipped chocolates will be glossy - but not shiny. Shiny is reserved for chocolate that sets up against a shiny surface such as a mold or acetate.

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Sort of a tempering question:

I have some Valrhona Caraibe and Manjari pistoles that are probably 2-3 years old. Some are in a plastic canister that was kept in a freezer and some kept in a pantry in a bag that was rolled shut, but not sealed. Can these still be successfully tempered, or do they go "off" for this purpose? Would it be better to use them for a ganache?

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Personally I would try tempering. See how it works out. They have no milk products so it is probably fine. The pantry stuff may have collected humidity so melt it first to see if it is grainy.


Edited by Lior (log)

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I just took four days of chocolate classes from a chef who was very adamant about not relying on thermometers, they only tell you what the temperature is, not whether the chocolate is in temper/properly pre-crysatllized. I am motivated to try to wean myself off the thermometer - the two I bought today are for other candy, I swear! You do have to get to know your chocolate, how it looks when it is right, and test very frequently. Having nice half hotel pan melters and a heat gun really helps with the whole program, it gets to be such a bigger pain to keep it in the working zone without proper equipment. I dream of proper equipment... :rolleyes:

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I have to admit I haven't use a thermometer in a long time to temper chocolate. The way I temper my chocolate is just by feeling, smell and appearance I guess. I have noticed when I get used to a certain type of chocolate then I have to relearn all of the above when I switch. I envy people that can actually explain what they do and how, for me I am kinda of a chocolate savage! LOL, things just work for me my way, but I think that may be the way it works for eveybody more or less.

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I reguarly eat Valrhona's Chuao from 2003 -- over 6 years old -- and because it was properly stored it's still quite nice flavor-wise and texture-wise, without bloom.

I picked up the CIA's Chocolates and Confections yesterday and I'm loving all the basic and more advanced information there. I like that they have a "troubleshooting" section where problems are listed with possible causes/solutions. I think most of the CIA books are only decent, but this one seems especially good and I haven't seen a confections book so systematic.

I'm sure it's familiar territory for those of you who are experienced professionals, but I think for the amateur and novice to intermediate professional, it's worth a look.

Grabbed a bunch of cru savage pistoles to play with. Figure if I'm going to practice, I better really enjoy my mistakes.

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I temper by the "it looks good to me" method. I'm probably wrong more often than I think. I rarely make chocolates though and things seem to work out pretty good the majority of the time for what I do with it. One of these days I'll find the time to have someone who knows what they're doing shake their head sadly and tell me to step away from the chocolate. :biggrin:

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