Our love for chocolate is eternal, but just like in all healthy relationships; we have a few things that work and a few that just don't work. And, wise is the person who understands their true love and accepts certain behaviours in order to have better results. Similarly, it is important to know about tempering a chocolate. Of course, the store-bought chocolate bars or choco chips can be easily melted, but the flavour and texture you get from melting is not what true chocolate lovers, like us, are looking for. According to City Pastry Chef of Social, Smoke House Deli and Salt Water Cafe (Mumbai), Janmejay Sachdeva, "Tempering of chocolate is important for chocolate decorations, for properly textured truffles and for gorgeous chocolate-dipped fruits and caramels. During the process of tempering a chocolate, melted chocolate is passed through a heating, cooling and reheating process, which gives the chocolate an almost-reflective (glossy) surface and a crisp, satisfying snap when you bite into it." The part of chocolate that allows it to melt so sumptuously in our mouth is cocoa butter.
While buying chocolates, avoid picking the ones that say bittersweet and semi-sweet, as they are not usually preferred for tempering. In fact, try to find chocolates that are labelled with percentages. Any quality chocolate that has coco in the 60-70% range will do. However, if you don't find chocolates that are labelled with percentages, then go with bittersweet as it's likely to have less sugar than semi-sweet.
Make sure your chocolate does not contain any added wax; it should contain just cocoa butter and solids, and sugar (read the label). The easiest chocolate to temper has additional cocoa butter added; it's a special kind of chocolate, which is tailor-made for tempering and dipping. Also, keep in mind that already manufactured chocolate bars are not the best options as they are already a finished product and are ready to be consumed as is.
This method of tempering a chocolate uses some addition of finely chopped chocolate pieces or disks into already melted chocolate. Addition of stable, crystallised chocolate lowers the temperature naturally, which enables the regular crystallisation of the chocolate mass.
Basically, you melt about 2/3rd of the chocolate and then remove it from the heat. The remaining 1/3rd is added to the melted chocolate and slowly stirred until it melts and cools slightly. But, you need to make sure that the final 1/3rd should not be bloomed. What is bloom? If chocolate is wrongly stored or exposed to different temperatures, the cocoa fat will separate out from the rest of the chocolate, creating a dull grey coating on them.
1. Take a chocolate bar and cut it into two halves with a help of serrated knife. For better results, use couverture chocolate.
2. Finely chop the first half of the chocolate on a chopping board or you can process it in a food processor.
3. Now, place the chopped chocolate in a bowl. Take a saucepan, fill it half with hot water and put the bowl over it. Make sure the bowl should float in the saucepan and not touch the bottom of the saucepan.
4. Slowly heat the water, ensuring it does not boil. Better still, use a microwave if you wish, but in 'defrost mode'. Stir frequently with a help of a spatula so that the chocolate melts smoothly.
5. Now, check the temperature with a thermometer. It should be 55-58 degrees Celsius (131-136 Fahrenheit) for dark chocolate, 45-50 degrees Celsius (113-122 Fahrenheit) for milk and white chocolate.
6. Remove the chocolate from the bain-marie. Set aside the melted chocolate in a bowl, in a warm place.
7. Chop the remaining chocolate, add it to the melted chocolate and stir well. Dark chocolate should reach a temperature of 28-29 degrees Celsius; milk chocolate should reach 27-28 degrees Celsius; and white chocolate should reach 26-27 degrees Celsius.
8. Now, re-heat the chocolate again by putting it back in the saucepan half filled with hot water. Dark chocolate should reach 31-32 degrees Celsius (88-90 Fahrenheit); milk chocolate should reach 29-30 degrees Celsius (84-86 Fahrenheit); and white chocolate should reach 28-29 degrees Celsius (82-84 Fahrenheit). Stir until the right temperature is attained.
While following the procedure, not even a single drop of water should get into the chocolate, as it will result in seizing of the same, shares Pastry Chef Janmejay Sachdeva.