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seawakim

Tempering Chocolate

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There is nothing quite like your first successful work with chocolate.  :wub:

Exactly. I had the same grin when my chocolate souffle arose at first attempt. I was on my own smiling like an idiot :blush: .

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OK. So I am going to give you the low-rent way I do it. It is Ina Garten's method and it works really well. Not sure how a microwave timer can be wrong, but anyway, she says,

 

"Place 3/4 of the chocolate in a glass bowl and place it in the microwave on high power for 30 seconds. (Don't trust your microwave timer - time it with your watch.) Stir with a rubber spatula. Put it back in the microwave for another 30 seconds and stir again. Continue to heat and stir every 30 seconds until the chocolate is just melted. Immediately, add the remaining chocolate and allow it to sit at room temperature, stirring often, until it's completely smooth. (If you need to heat it a little more, place it in the microwave for another 15 seconds at a time.)"

 

I hope this will work for you. Good luck!

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That method can work well, you are really not taking the chocolate out of temper by slowly melting it as you are describing. The issue is that you have to be sure your "start" chocolate is in good temper.

Do yourself a big favor and practice, practice, practice tempering your chocolate....it will save you headaches in the future.

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Hi there. I'm having terrible trouble tempering my chocolate - I'm using it for dipping, coating, and topping.

 

Currently I use Callebaut milk and dark callets, and for some reason always have better results with the milk - is dark more difficult to temper?? Everytime I attempt to temper the chocolate, it never turns out right. I always end up with small white spots on the milk chocolate, and the dark just doesn't seem to work at all. I tried to temper some dark callets and applied it over some caramel shortbread, but it was so streaky, white and blotchy when it set. I didn't spread it, just picked up the tin and moved it around until the base was covered - is this an error? I invested in a digital thermometer, hoping that this would take out all the guesswork, as previously I have just hoped for the best! 

 

Yesterday I was dipping some truffles - melted 3/4 of the milk chocolate over a double boiler, slowly to 45C, added the remaining 1/4, brought it down to 27-28C and then heated again to 30C. However, same results when set - small white spots on the surface. I sometimes get better results when pouring the chocolate onto baking parchment and spreading to set. I seem to get fewer white splotches but they are still there nonetheless. 

 

I want to see if anyone has any advice as I don't know what I am doing wrong! Should I stir the chocolate as it cools? Or just leave it undisturbed until it reaches the lower temperature? I also read somewhere about the callets looking dull and dusty as this could affect the tempering - as far as I'm aware there is nothing wrong with the callets, they aren't old and they're stored in an airtight box. Should I try a different brand? 

 

I am about to give up - I read this morning about using candy melts as an alternative? I've always been put off by them as I steer away from artificially flavoured things and would prefer to just use real chocolate - but I'm tempted to try it as I'm losing my patience with chocolate. Does anyone use candy melts? Are they significantly easier to use? 

 

Any help is appreciated! Thanks.

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Yes!  You should stir!!!  Agitation encourages crystallization, and when you are tempering chocolate, it is all about crystallization of the cocoa butter.  Hoping for the best with chocolate can lead to disappointment, as you have found.  Just because it is in the right temperature zone and you want it to be tempered, doesn't mean it is.  I now always test a little chocolate on a piece of parchment to make sure it is tempered before using it.  Sometimes all it needs is a good stir and a few minutes to get the crystallization going.  There are at least a few threads on tempering chocolate in Pastry & Baking, make sure to read through those.  But in a nutshell, if you are seeding, you want a few un-melted pieces left at 95F (35C? I'm fuzzy on my metric) to provide the stable crystals.  Once the chocolate has cooled to working temp, hopefully the seed will all be melted, if not you can pick it out or warm it a little more until it is smooth.  Don't be afraid to stir, and always do a test before you dip or mold a whole bunch of pieces.  Hope that helps!

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But in a nutshell, if you are seeding, you want a few un-melted pieces left at 95F (35C? I'm fuzzy on my metric) to provide the stable crystals.  Once the chocolate has cooled to working temp, hopefully the seed will all be melted, if not you can pick it out or warm it a little more until it is smooth.

The amount of seed that is recommended varies hugely from one authority to another.  Some say 1/3 of the total amount (which can be a lot), some say much less.  As I am having overtempering problems as I use the chocolate, I am now leaning toward a fairly small amount of seed.  Do you have any guidelines (for me and for the OP as well)?  Like you, I always test before I start using.

 

To the OP:  I wouldn't recommend succumbing to the temptation of using candy melt/confectionary coating.  The taste is hugely different.

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Jim, with over-crystallization, I'd recommend gently warming the chocolate to melt out some of those crystals, but not going above 95F. 

 

I don't measure my seed.  I dump in a first amount that I'm sure will melt, then take the temp and guesstimate based on how hot it is how much more to add.  I'll admit that I often have extra unmelted bits, now that I think about it, it's odd that I'm not more precise about it! 

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Jim, with over-crystallization, I'd recommend gently warming the chocolate to melt out some of those crystals, but not going above 95F. 

 

I don't measure my seed.  I dump in a first amount that I'm sure will melt, then take the temp and guesstimate based on how hot it is how much more to add.  I'll admit that I often have extra unmelted bits, now that I think about it, it's odd that I'm not more precise about it! 

In the case of dark chocolate, warming helped earlier this week, but it's disturbing that I had just 6 molds to do and the thickening started after only a couple.  In the case of white (the temperamental--to me--Opalys again), it can't be warmed as much, and it got close to the point of being just a blob with no room for ganache.  I'm going to try keeping some chocolate out and warming it to melt all crystals, then cool to around 84-86 and add as the chocolate in the tempering machine gets low.  This is an idea I have read a lot about on The Chocolate Life and from other sources as well.  I have got to conquer this issue.

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I'm going to try keeping some chocolate out and warming it to melt all crystals, then cool to around 84-86 and add as the chocolate in the tempering machine gets low.  This is an idea I have read a lot about on The Chocolate Life and from other sources as well.  I have got to conquer this issue.

 

That sounds like a good idea - basically dilute the over-crystallized chocolate with cool but untempered chocolate.  Brilliant!

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Hi alenka_m. If you're using chocolate that has been properly stored, then it is already tempered when it comes out of the box. With that said, it is possible to melt the chocolate for use without ever taking it out of temper. Each chocolate has an ideal tempered temperature (usually indicated somewhere on the packaging). Simply melt the chocolate at a temperature no higher than the maximum tempered temperature, and voila.

For example, if your chocolates tempered temperature is 95°F, the heat your oven to 100° then turn it off. Place your chocolate in that oven and allow it to melt (that will take some time). Once it melts, it is ready to use, and still in temper.

I use a water circulator (the kind used in sous-vide cooking) for working with tempered chocolate. I set the water bath to 95°F, and place the chocolate in a large bowl floating on top of the water. It takes some time to melt, but when it does it is perfectly in temper, and remains in that state due to constant even temperature. This is the easiest way I've found.

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Chocolate held at it's working temperature will thicken over time due to beta crystal production and need the excess crystals melted out regularly unless you want to have a big thick gluggy mess ;)

 

I vaguely recall a value (I'm sure others will know it better) that 'in temper' chocolate only has a small amount of beta crystals - 2% or something small like that.

 

Sorry, a bit off-topic!

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Chocolate held at it's working temperature will thicken over time due to beta crystal production and need the excess crystals melted out regularly unless you want to have a big thick gluggy mess ;)

 

I vaguely recall a value (I'm sure others will know it better) that 'in temper' chocolate only has a small amount of beta crystals - 2% or something small like that.

 

Sorry, a bit off-topic!

 

Calelbaut recommends a tempering technique which calls for adding 1% tempered cocoa butter powder (Mycryo), so you are correct about only needing a tiny percent of beta crystals.  It is a chain reaction, and they do multiply...  http://www.callebaut.com/usen/techniques/tempering/tempering-with-mycryo

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I'm not sure I would call anything that has had the cocoa butter replaced with vegetable fats "chocolate" :P

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Calelbaut recommends a tempering technique which calls for adding 1% tempered cocoa butter powder (Mycryo), so you are correct about only needing a tiny percent of beta crystals.  It is a chain reaction, and they do multiply...  http://www.callebaut.com/usen/techniques/tempering/tempering-with-mycryo

I sometimes use Mycryo, and it works quite well.  It does make me question (as I have written before) the great variation in the amount of seed recommended (all the way from Callebaut's 1% to others who specify as much as 1/3 of the total amount of chocolate used).  Mycryo is very convenient if you need a specific amount of chocolate tempered, for example, for a slabbed ganache.  When you use seed chocolate instead, you may need to take the extra step of weighing out the final amount of chocolate called for in the recipe.  I find that Mycryo is sometimes difficult to dissolve completely as it is not supposed to be added until the chocolate is at a fairly low temp (in the case of dark, between 93 and 96 F.); an immersion blender is perfect for this task.

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Mycryo is too expensive for me to waste using it to temper :laugh:

 

Methods that call for adding larger amounts of seed chocolate are adding it to the melted chocolate when it's at 45C - so the vast quantity of the seed crystals are melted out, the idea being that the right number of crystals will be left when the chocolate reaches working temperature.

 

I think basically all the different methods mean that the process is really not that hard and a there's a wide variety of different ways to accomplish the same result. Despite what people think and say, the tempering process is *not* difficult if you understand what you're trying to achieve (get beta crystals) and how to go about it (seed it, table it, microwave it, use a bane marie, whatever).

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Hello everyone. Not sure if I should've started a new thread for my question. My apologies if I should have. But since it's primarily about tempering, I figured it fit here.

This past week I made chocolates for the first time in a while. I tempered my chocolate using the seeding method, melting it in a microwave and continually stirring by hand as I seeded. Once the chocolate was tempered (as best as I can tell, at least) I kept the work bowl wrapped in an electric heating pad. I regularly stirred the chocolate, checked the temp with an IR thermometer and hit it with a heat gun to bring it back to working temp whenever necessary.

When I used the chocolate to line molds, everything came out great. I was able to get nice thin shells that released easily from the molds. Good sheen & crisp snap. So I was pleased with that. However, truffles that I hand-dipped all developed streaks. Some turning almost completely grey after a bit of time. They still had nice crisp shells that didn't immediatley start melting when handled. It was just the appearance that disappointed me.

So is the streaking just a result of not properly tempered chocolate? Or could there be other factors that cause the streaks? I hand-dipped some dried figs and those didn't develop any streaks. It was only the hand dipped balls of ganache.

Any input would be greatly appreciated. I will be making another batch this week but thinking I may just stick to molded stuff.

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streaking and bloom (what you're describing) means your chocolate wasn't quite right. Was your room a little warm? Perhaps the heat release as the chocoplate set up was enough to cause the problems. I always try to have my ceiling fan on when I'm dipping to improve air circulation around the pieces and allow the heat to dissipate quickly :)

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streaking and bloom (what you're describing) means your chocolate wasn't quite right. Was your room a little warm? Perhaps the heat release as the chocoplate set up was enough to cause the problems. I always try to have my ceiling fan on when I'm dipping to improve air circulation around the pieces and allow the heat to dissipate quickly :)

 

Thank you for the reply. The room was actually quite cool. Maybe mid to high 60s F (A rare "cold" few days in San Diego). Should I have put the pieces in the refrigerator after dipping to set? Would that make much of difference, considering after dipping the 30th piece, the first few pieces had pretty much already set and streaks were already showing? Could the ganache being cold when dipped contributed to the streaking? It had been refrigerated but I pulled it out and let sit at room temp for about an hour before dipping.

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At 60º, you should not have had to put them in the fridge...brrrr....I keep my room as close to 68ºF as possible. This morning I worked at 64º

 

Maybe the ganache was too cold, but based on how you describe setting it out, I doubt it. 

I think the temper was just off. Try, try again!


Edited by gfron1 (log)

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At 60º, you should not have had to put them in the fridge...brrrr....I keep my room as close to 68ºF as possible. This morning I worked at 64º

 

Maybe the ganache was too cold, but based on how you describe setting it out, I doubt it. 

I think the temper was just off. Try, try again!

 

You're probably right. I'll probably just stick to molded pieces for now. I like those better anyway. Thanks for the input.

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Molds tend to be a little more forgiving of chocolate that is out of temper than truffles are.

^^ This. I've had moulds that look perfect on the outside with a lovely bloom on the inside that no-one sees :D

Keep a close eye on the temperature (even though it's not the be all and end all) - if you're out of the working temp range you're more likely to see problems. I find this with my tanks that the temp can slowly creep up even though I don't move the dial, they're starting to get old and worn out (just like me!)

Do a test set on a spatula or a knife 10 minutes before you start, if that sets up nicely with no streaks, you should be good to go.

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^^ This. I've had moulds that look perfect on the outside with a lovely bloom on the inside that no-one sees :D

Keep a close eye on the temperature (even though it's not the be all and end all) - if you're out of the working temp range you're more likely to see problems. I find this with my tanks that the temp can slowly creep up even though I don't move the dial, they're starting to get old and worn out (just like me!)

Do a test set on a spatula or a knife 10 minutes before you start, if that sets up nicely with no streaks, you should be good to go.

 

I've noticed that too, with the bloom inside the shells but nothing on the outside. So I guess the temper wasn't perfect to start with. Is there any way to know at what point something went wrong to throw off the temper? In other words, would this most likely be a result of the chocolate getting too hot when reheating? Or perhaps not seeding enough?

 

I'm using the Guittard 'Lever du Soleil' Couverture. This was the first time using this chocolate. I don't recall seeing any info on the package indicating the proper working temp, so I just used what I normally do for dark chocolate. Melt the chocolate to about 113°F, cool to about 105°F then begin adding seed chocolate. Gradually add more seed until the temp falls to about 86°F, all the while continually stirring. I'll then hit it with a some quick shots from the heat gun to bring it back up to 91°F. I try to keep it in the 90°-92°F range as best I can.

 

After going through this process, which took me about 30 minutes, and testing on a spatula, if I do notice streaks forming is there anything I can do to correct it, short of starting over from the beginning? Is there something glaringly wrong in my process that I need to change?

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