How to Temper Chocolate

"Proper tempering gives chocolate a smooth and glossy finish and won't melt on your fingers as easily as improperly tempered chocolate."

Here are the clearest instructions I have found for this process. It is time consuming but it does work. If you are going to melt a pound of chocolate, have several different kinds of cookies that you plan to dip already made so that you don't waste or have to re-temper your chocolate.

Chop your chocolate . It is best to use at least 1 pound of chocolate, as it is easier to temper (and retain the temper) of larger amounts of chocolate. If this is more than you need, you can always save the extra for later use. Be sure that your chocolate is in block or bar form, not chocolate chips. The chips have additives that allow them to retain their shape at higher temperatures, and so they will not temper properly.

Melt 2/3 of your chocolate. Place it in the top of a double boiler, set over simmering water. Securely clip a chocolate or instant-read thermometer to the side of the boiler to monitor the chocolate’s temperature.

Stir gently but steadily as the chocolate melts and heats up. Use a rubber spatula, not a wooden or metal spoon.

Bring the chocolate to 115 degrees Fahrenheit (46 C) for dark chocolate or 110 degrees Fahrenheit (43 C) for milk or white chocolate. Do not allow the chocolate to exceed its recommended temperature. When it is at the right temperature, remove it from the heat, wipe the bottom of the bowl, and set it on a heat-proof surface.

Add the remaining chunks of chocolate and stir gently to incorporate. The warm chocolate will melt the chopped chocolate, and the newly added chocolate will bring down the temperature of the warm chocolate.

Cool the chocolate. Once the chocolate gets below 84 degrees F (29 C), remove the remaining chunks of chocolate. They can be cooled, wrapped in plastic wrap, and saved for another use.

Reheat the chocolate briefly.Place the chocolate bowl over the warm water in the double boiler for 5-10 seconds, remove it and stir, and repeat, until the temperature reaches 88-89 degrees F (31 C), or 87 F (30 C) for milk and white chocolate. Do not leave the chocolate over the hot water, or allow it to exceed 91 degrees.

Your chocolate should now be tempered! To make sure it has been done properly, do a spot test: spread a spoonful thinly over an area of waxed paper and allow it to cool. If the chocolate is shiny and smooth, it is properly tempered. If it is dull or streaky, it has not been tempered correctly. From: Elizabeth LaBau, Guide


To use tempered chocolate, you must keep it warm but not hot, ideally in the 85-88 F degree range (86 degrees for milk and white chocolate). You can either keep it over a pan of warm (but not simmering) water, stirring occasionally, or try placing it on an electric heating pad set to “low.” Whichever method you choose, it’s important to stir often so that the chocolate remains a uniform temperature throughout.

Note: The heating pad trick is a great one, which I use, just remember to place it in a plastic bag first so that you don't end up with a chocolate-coated heating pad!


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