An Easy Method of Tempering/Crystallizing Chocolate
Knowing how to properly temper chocolate is essential if you want to attempt to make your own chocolate confections. However, it can sound sort of scary if you've never done it before. So, I want to teach everyone a quick way to temper chocolate using items you already have in the kitchen.
Before we get started I want to take a moment to share with you why it is so important to have properly tempered chocolate. It is necessary because the cocoa butter in chocolate is made up of many different types of crystals. These crystals all set at different temperatures, but most of them give us undesirable results like white streaks and odd lumps. Well, when we temper chocolate what we are basically doing is making sure that we only let the good crystals form. This is why we need to pay close attention to the temperature of the chocolate and why we need to stir to much throughout the entire process.
The end result of our work will be to have chocolate that sets within a few minutes and is nice and shiny. It should make a nice snapping noise when broken. There are several ways to temper chocolate, but today we are going to go through just one, the seeding method. This method will only work if you are using store bought chocolate that is already in temper - don't worry, unless the chocolate you bought melted on the car ride home and set funny it should already be in temper.
Chop your chocolate into even pieces to make sure that they melt evenly. Then transfer a little less than two thirds of the chocolate into a separate heat safe bowl and place over a pan of simmering water. Make sure that the bowl is large enough that steam doesn't escape and get into your chocolate. Steam/water is bad for chocolate and will cause it to seize. Stir constantly. Once melted take the chocolate off the heat and check the temperature.
Dark chocolate should be about 115°F (46°C) and milk or white chocolate should be around 110°F (43°C).
Add the remaining chocolate to the melted chocolate. This will help to "seed" the melted chocolate with the right type of crystals. Be sure that you stir the entire time. The more you stir the more of the right kind of crystals will form and the shinier the chocolate will become. Our goal is to get the temperature down to 88-90°F (31-32°C) for dark chocolate or 82-84°F (28-29°C). Now we want to test the chocolate to make sure that we are in temper. Take a metal spoon and dip the tip of it into the melted chocolate and then put it into the fridge for a few minutes until it is set. If it comes out smooth and shiny then the chocolate is in proper temper and we are ready to use our chocolate!