My friend Geraint has a fantastic head of hair, ahhh… how I remember those days. So you can see I have to sympathise when I’m hearing he is pulling his hair out!
Was his stress brought on by worrying about future trade deals once we are out of the EU? Was he putzing because of the lack of cogent content on twitter? Was he moving into a retreat for those over-wrought by ravaged cuticles? No to all of these he was suffering from loosing his temper. Not literally, but the temper in chocolate. So naturally I called him over and we had a go together.
When chocolate is tempered it is shiny, snaps easily and as it cools it retracts from a mould; it also can be handled without it melting. Un-tempered chocolate has a leathery texture, will stick like hell in the mould and if you can get it out of the mould it will instantly melt onto your fingers, over time it will bloom (grey fat like covering to the chocolate) so if you want me to eat it then temper it.
Chocolate is a tricky creature; it is made up of many, many crystals. When you melt chocolate the crystals you want disappear and are replaced with ones you don’t want. It sounds daunting but follow the steps below and with a few faltering steps you’ll have it licked!
This sample has been tempered correctly; it is nice and shiny, has a crisp snap (with a snap sound) and does not instantly melt with the warmth of your fingers.
This sample is a tempering disaster, you can see that the chocolate has a greyish ‘bloom’, looks patchy and has no shine. This will be almost impossible to remove from a mould. It does not snap, but has a leathery texture. Finally; as soon as you touch it the chocolate melts onto your fingers.
All in all you may think that tempering is a pain, but it is well worth taking the time to get your head around!
Here is how I do it!
Start with as much chocolate as you can manage. A small amount is more likely to over heat, get hot-spots and spoil. Large amounts hold the heat better and stay in temper for longer.
Microwave on full power for 30 seconds, stir the chocolate pieces… reaching all the way to the bottom of the pot. You must, must must stir well – even if you cannot see any changes. Just do it!
After heating 3 or 4 times you will notice some change, little bits melting. I cannot encourage full mixing enough. As soon as there are parts that are melted you must stir to spread the warmth and allow the residual heat to spread out.
Keep going until the chocolate is one third lumps and two thirds melted chocolate. Then stir and stir some more, using the residual heat to turn the whole lot liquid. You need three things to temper chocolate temperature, movement and time. Stirring well will give you the time and movement.
Now for the dip test. Dip the tip of a palette knife into the melted chocolate and scrape the excess off the bottom. Set this aside and put a timer on for 5 mins.
Look who I found reflected in the palette knife!
As the timer ticks away the 5 mins keep your eye on the setting chocolate. if it dries well before the 5 mins it is not hot enough. I use a hot air paint stripper to add a little heat, you can also give the pot a 5 second blast in the microwave. Stir well and re-test. In this image the chocolate is not only dry but you can see strands of grey as it was not mixed well enough or given enough time.
If it is still wet at 5 mins you need to cool it down. Stir, mixing all the way around and to to the bottom of the bowl. You can cool the mix by tipping about a quarter of the chocolate onto a worktop and scraping it back into the bowl. Then re-test.
I used the chocolate as a collar around a desert, spreading the tempered chocolate onto an acetate sheet and putting this into a ring-mould. Once filled I peeled the acetate off to reveal the fully tempered chocolate.
I hope that you have found this helpful. I really like to hear form my readers… Do you have a better way to temper chocolate? Do you think I have got it wrong? Let me know firstname.lastname@example.org or leave me a comment below.
I have to report that Geraint went home and had a go at this straight after his lesson. Initially it did not go well for home, but he persisted and archived perfect results so he earns a gold star!