How to Temper Chocolate | Friars

How to temper chocolate is not about making your favourite box of confectionery angry as you probably already know. No, to temper is a very necessary process undertaken in the manufacturing of our chocolate. More widely known for it’s use in metal working, most of us will have heard of tempered steel, tempering is an important part of the product making cycle. Essentially to temper something is to bring it to a workable state and in the case of chocolate the tempering is the final part of the process.

Because cocoa butter fats crystallise during the chocolate making process, it is important to ensure they do so in a form that gives the most pleasing product. For example, they can do so in such a fashion as to make the chocolate crumbly, matte and mottled in its finished appearance and devoid of that crisp snap and the sheen we all enjoy from our chocolate.

We temper chocolate to achieve that ‘best’ appearance and quality. If the crystals are too large then the chocolate can be too soft, melt too easily and crumble. Make the crystals too fine and it can become hard and take some weeks to form. In order to achieve the correct state of the chocolate we temper it until it becomes firm, has a crisp snap, has a sheen to it and melts at a temperature around that of the human body.

There are in fact, six different crystallised outcomes for chocolate we temper. Four of which render it soft and crumbly where it also melts too easily. Then, there is a sixth form which is too firm, but before that the fifth, which is just right and sought after.

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The Tempering of Chocolate

So as we know to temper is about bringing the chocolate to a rich consistency whereby the finished result is a quality, smooth, shiny and crisp chocolate.

In order to reach that state the chocolate is heated carefully and under strict monitoring. Usually this is firstly done to a temperature of around 45 degrees C which will melt all six forms of cocoa fat crystals found in the mixture.

Next the mixture will be cooled to somewhere around 27 degrees C allowing type four and five crystals to form. At this stage the mix is agitated in order to form smaller crystals which in turn will ensure other smaller crystals adhere to there nucleus, before being further heated to around 31 degrees C. This last heating leaves only the desired type of crystals having eliminated type four. Any additional tempering at this stage would ruin this and mean temper being undertaken again.

Variations In Methods To Temper Chocolate

There are other ways to temper chocolate as well as that described above. The one usually favoured is that which introduces already tempered chocolate into the mix. The idea is that the previously tempered solid element has the smaller crystal seeds as they can be referred to, which aid the temper of the whole mix.

There are also classic ways in which to manually temper your chocolate, although perhaps very useful to the artisan, these are not quite so practical for the larger producer. They can make rather good watching though.

In particular working the chocolate on a solid slab, such as stone or similar is an almost therapeutic watch. Carried out with deft movement of hand and skilled wrists this looks pretty good too. Once the chocolate begins to thicken indicating that there are sufficient crystal seeds present in the mix, it is warmed gently to the correct working temperature. You may even have seen this process of how to temper being conducted in some specialist outlets.

Another fairly common method is to introduce tempered chocolate to your mix where the crystals already present encourage the mix to crystallise to the required degree.

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To produce consistent high quality chocolate many larger manufacturers rely on specialist temper machines. In the modern era these will be very accurate and computer controlled, whilst at the same time leaning towards greater energy efficiency. For large volume production, continuous flow systems are employed to good effect. Here molten chocolate comes in at a high temperature, is then cooled by heat exchangers before being sheared in a spinning temper column, and finally warmed further to ensure no undesirable crystallisation remains.

In a nutshell then, the science is that the fats in cocoa butter are subject to ‘polymorphic crystallisation’. Basically they can crystallise in a number of ways at various stages, six in this case as discussed earlier.

The primary purpose of the temper process is to achieve the fifth form which is the best for our chocolate. So there we have it, a little bit of insight as to why we have a nice, crisp shiny chocolate to indulge in. Test it out and break a square or two of chocolate from one of our tasty range. See the shine, feel the snap, enjoy the smoothness.

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