Monday, April 7, 2014

There is more than one method to temper chocolate

In order to have shiny, streak-free chocolate, chocolatiers use a number of different methods to temper their chocolate. Tempering is a science that needs to be applied. You do not need all the scientific details, but in order to coat chocolate truffles or make your own chocolate bars at home or for your business, you do need to learn how to temper chocolate so that your confections looks shiny, beautiful and, well, appetizing.

When I first started, I typed out the first method below and printed it.  I then taped it on the inside of a cupboard door in my kitchen.  I now have the temperatures memorized, but for a long time it was a great reference and quite handy.

To heat your chocolate up to the maximum temperature (as per the below chart), place it in a stainless steel or glass bowl over a double boiler. If you do not have a marble slab, you can cool the chocolate over a bowl of ice.  Keep your pot of water on the stove to quickly reheat it to your final 'working' temperature. But be aware, and this definitely needs capitals: DO NOT GET A SINGLE DROP OF WATER IN YOUR BOWL OF CHOCOLATE!  Keep a cloth on hand to dry off the bottom of the bowl and your hands very well every time you touch the bowl.  One drop of water will seize the entire batch. See below for a tip on what to do if your chocolate seizes (i.e. hardens, lumps and becomes way to thick to work with).

Here is your temperature chart and some easy methods for tempering chocolate:

Tempering Chocolate (with marble slab or over an ice bath):

Heat white, milk and dark chocolate to different temperatures:  

Step 1. Heat dark chocolate to 120°F, milk chocolate to 115°F, and white chocolate to 110°F.

Step 2: Then let it cool:  dark to 82°F, milk to 80°F, and white to 78°F.

Step 3: Then reheat it to 90°F for dark, 86°F for milk, and 82°F for white.


Tempering Chocolate with the Seed Method:

Step 1. Heat dark chocolate to 120°F, milk chocolate to 115°F, and white chocolate to 110°F.

Step 2: Then let it cool by tossing in ¼ of the amount of already tempered chocolate and stirring until it cools to F for dark, 86°F for milk, and 82°F for white.  For instance, if you are melting 12 ounces of chocolate, throw in up to 3 ounces of chopped tempered chocolate to cool the 12 oz of melted chocolate. If it cools beyond these temperatures, reheat for five seconds in the microwave until you get it back up to this point.  Use the baby finger method (see below) along with a thermometer to ensure the chocolate is in temper. 


1.       The best measure to know if chocolate is in temper is the back of your baby finger.  If the temperature of the chocolate is the same as the temperature of the back (or knuckle) of your baby finger, the chocolate should be in temper. If it is too warm, it will be streaky. If too cool, it needs to be warmed in the microwave for 5 seconds. If you have been stirring vigorously with one hand, use the baby finger on the other hand because the hand you have been stirring with will be warmer than normal.

2.       Also check the look of the chocolate – is it shiny?  If so, it is likely in temper.  If dull, it is not.

3.       Spread a thin/tiny amount on a piece of wax paper and put in fridge and check in 30 seconds.  Any streaks? If so, it is not in temper.  If shiny, it is in temper.  Make sure the chocolate in your bowl has not cooled too much while you do this or you may need to reheat a little (no more than 5 seconds in microwave).
Tip: If your bowl of chocolate seizes, you can only salvage the chocolate by turning it into a truffle, glaze or ganache. If you are melting 12 ounces of milk chocolate and it seizes, bring 3/4 of a cup of whipping cream just to a simmer in a pot on the stove and pour over the chocolate and stir until smooth. If it is 12 ounces of dark chocolate, use 1 and 1/4 cup of cream.  If you want to make a glaze, heat water just to the boiling point and our over chocolate (1/2 cup for milk chocolate, 3/4 cup for dark chocolate). You can also use Baileys or coffee liquer or whatever you like.  Let it sit to set for 8 hours to make truffles or immediately pour the smooth mixture over a cake as a yummy icing or glaze.


  1. Thanks for the detailed information on tempering. I have been debating whether or not to try making my own chocolates. Once people find out I have a blog, they always want to know if I make my own. Not enough patience now and too much fun tasting all of those creations out there from chocolatiers and chocolate makers.

  2. I love all your tips and workshops! I may be your friend, but I'm still a big fan! ;) xoxoo

  3. Philippine pili nuts from the Bicol region in the Philippines is a great Filipino or Philippines food or snack. Pili nuts are very healthy and nutritious indeed, being a source of energy, potassium and iron.They also have protein, dietary fiber / fibre, and calcium as well as monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats.  I know they have no cholesterol, no trans fat, and the unsalted ones have no sodium. What is great about the pili nut snack or treat is that they are so crisp, rich, and delicious.

  4. Thanks for sharing this information. :) I was wondering... if you have a chocolate bar that has melted and re-hardened, it is not good eats. So how do you make it taste like it is supposed to taste (from the manufacturer)? How do you make it delicious again? Do you temper it using the instructions here, or do you use a different method?

    1. Hi Crystal! Yes, the method here is best. What I do is break up the chocolate and place it in a small bowl, and melt over a double boiler (or in the microwave for 2 minutes on half power - add small increments of time back in the microwave if not melting). Then, once it reaches 120º F (if dark chocolate) cool it very rapidly by placing your bowl over ice water (just a few cubes in a bowl is fine). Be sure NO WATER gets in the chocolate, so lower your bowl carefully and make sure not even a drop flies in. Stir until it reaches 82 degrees. if the bottom is hardening, take it out and stir the hard bits back in, and then place back in the water if not yet cool enough. If you don't have a thermometer, take the temperature by dipping the back of your baby finger in. It should be cooler than your finger. Rewarm it for just 4 seconds in the microwave, then pour it out onto a piece of waxed paper and spread around with a spatula. If you have a chocolate mould, you can pour it into that instead. Let cool in the fridge for just 15 minutes (not longer or humidity will get to it). If it is still streaky, it doesn't hurt to try it all over again! Practice is usually needed for tempering chocolate. If it is not streaky with white bloom, it should taste like the original product again. I hope this helps!

    2. I'm trying to temper with no luck. I need help. I've tried 8 times.

      I am melting, cooling and reheating milk chocolate using the degrees you cited. It's a supermarket block of plain chocolate I am practicing on. What am I missing? I have a laser thermometer, and I am using a bain marie to heat and cool using the dial - my room temperature is 23 degrees so I put it in the fridge for a few minutes but still, it doesn't work. I noticed you said to cool it this critical? It takes 15 minutes in the bain marie....please help

    3. Anonymous, you might try adding a bit of cocoa butter to help it temper--just a little bit will help--you can find it bulk in health food stores. I have tempered chocolate successfully just a few times, but I didn't know about the rapid cooling thing--I'm working with a big metal bowl over a bucket with a lightbulb in it, though, and using seed chocolate (to speed the process), and the metal cools quickly and chocolate gets sloshed all around the sides when stirring, and I've noticed it cools it very quickly to scrape that spread out chocolate on the sides back into the main mix in the bowl. Good luck!

  5. Hi Lisabeth,

    Is it suppose to harden when you toss it into the fridge in 15 mins? Thanks

  6. Thanks for the article and your reply to Crystal above! What a nifty tip for all the chocolate that gets wasted (how do I even let that happen?!) on summer days!

  7. Hi Lisabeth. I wonder if you have any recommendations for tempering dark chocolate made with the stevia erythritol mixture instead of sugar. While my other chocolates made with sugar tempered very well with your instructions, for some reason the batch with the non-sugar sweetening came out gritty. It is roasted nibs 650 grams, cacao butter 50 grams
    and stevia/erythritol blend 200 grams. Tempered as per dark chocolate instructions. But gritty. It was better before tempering. Strangely we poured some into small paper cups (like icy cups) and they are smooth as can be. It is the bar chocolate that came out gritty. Thanks for any help you might send my way.

  8. I am wanting to add honey instead of sugar to my dark chocolate. I understand you first have to remove the water content of honey which can go as high as a tad over 17% moisture depending on your honey, and to do that you need to add alcohol and to cook down your honey/alcohol mixture to remove the moisture before before adding honey to sweeten your chocolate. From what I am understanding, you need to do this regardless if you are using couverture chocolate nubs, cocoa beans, or plain cocoa powder. Anyway, this is what my research has taught me and if I'm wrong, please correct me. I do have couverture chocolate nubs that I can use that I want to infuse various flavors into the chocolate. But I also need to know if I'm on the right track using cocoa nibs or Dutch cocoa powder. Since I'm wanting to make candy bars and bonbons with filling centers, I know I will have to temper my chocolate. I believe I would prefer the 70% chocolate recipe for dark chocolate. Do you have complete recipes for infusing into chocolate also using honey as the sugar ingredient for all 3 types of chocolate, dark, milk, and white chocolate? Also do you have Stevia recipes for those who are diabetic and can not tolerate honey or sugar? I know I'm asking a lot here. I've also seen that when using nubs and you want the smoothest creamy chocolate possible that you need to pulverize the nubs down to 20 microns. Do you find that is true?