Tempering chocolate is an essential step for making smooth, glossy, evenly colored coating for your dipped chocolates. Tempering prevents the dull grayish color and waxy texture that happens when the cocoa fat separates out. Tempered chocolate produces a crisp, satisfying snap when you bite into it. (You do not need to temper chocolate that you bake with, such as when you make brownies.) The tempering process takes chocolate through a temperature curve, a process which aligns the chocolate’s crystals to make it smooth, silky, and glossy.
Your chocolate shouldn’t have any added wax, just cocoa butter and solids, and sugar. The easiest chocolate to temper has additional cocoa butter added, it’s a special kind of chocolate — called couverture in French — that’s made for tempering and dipping. Don’t use already manufactured chocolate bars as those are already a finished product and are ready to be eaten.
If chocolate is incorrectly stored and exposed to a wide range of temperatures, the cocoa fat will separate out from the rest of the chocolate, creating a dull grey coating and roughish texture. If you find that you’ve let your chocolate bloom, you can still use it but you will need to bring it into temper again by ‘seeding’ it with an already tempered chocolate (more on that later). If you receive bloomed chocolate from a manufacturer, Alexandra recommends returning it because it means that the chocolate wasn’t properly cared for.
Bloom should not be confused with the normal scuffs and nicks chocolate can get when transported. The chocolate pictured above has not bloomed.
The basic idea is that you add tempered chocolate to melted, untempered chocolate. The tempered chocolate will introduce (or seed) the proper crystalline structure to the overall batch and bring everything into temper.
About 2/3 of the chocolate is melted and removed from the heat. The remaining 1/3 is dropped into the melted chocolate and slowly stirred until it melts and cools slightly. Note: The final 1/3 needs to be tempered chocolate that has not bloomed.
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