Tempering Chocolate


General Guidelines for Melting Chocolate


  1. Use a chocolate chipper (ice chipper) or a heavy serrated knife to chop the chocolate into almond-size pieces. It will melt faster and more easily.


  1. Always melt chocolate slowly, at a low temperature. The melting point of chocolate is between 86F (30C) and 90F (32C)lower than body temperature. Using high heat is risky and the most common cause of grainy and/or lumpy chocolate.


  1. Never heat dark chocolate above 120 (49C). Milk and white chocolates, which are more heat sensitive, should not be heated above 110F (43C)


  1. Begin stirring the chocolate with a rubber spatula when the outside edges start to liquefy. Stirring prematurely actually slows down the melt.


  1. Chocolate retains its shape in the microwave as it melts, so dont rely on appearance alone. The only way to know if its fully melted is to stir it.


Melting Chocolate in a Hot-Water Bath


  1. Use a conventional double boiler or a bowl that fits snugly over the top of a saucepan. Fill the bottom pan with enough hot water (130F/54C to 140F/60C) to touch the bottom of the top bowl but not so much as to allow it to float.


  1. Melt 1/3 of the chocolate at a time, allowing each addition to begin to melt before

adding the next. Stir frequently to distribute the heat evenly.


  1. Remove the bowl from the water bath as soon as the chocolate is nearly melted. Continue stirring until it is smooth and shiny.


Melting Chocolate in the Microwave Oven


  1. To test an empty plastic (dont even think about using Pyrex or Corningware-retains too much heat) to see if it is microwave safe: Place it in the microwave with a Pyrex measuring cup filled with 8 ounces (227 grams) of water; microwave on high power for 1 minute. If the bowl remains cool or barely warm, it is OK to use. (Buy the cheap Sterilite stuff at the .99 cent store and use it only for chocolate-thus no other flavors become imbedded, same with your spatula)


  1. Place the chocolate in the tested bowl and microwave uncovered on medium (50 percent*) power for 1 to 3 minutes, depending on the amount. Using a rubber spatula, stir the chocolate gently at the halfway mark. *When you get comfortable with your microwave you can use full power.


  1. Continue microwaving in increasingly shorter time increments until most of the chocolate is melted. Place the bowl on the work surface and continue stirring until the chocolate is smooth and shiny.

Adapted from The Art of Chocolate by Elaine Gonzles, Chronicle Books, 1998. All rights reserved.



General Guidelines for Tempering Chocolate


  1. It is not necessary to temper chocolate when it is an ingredient in a recipe.

  1. The tempering process always begins by melting the chocolate. If the chocolate is in temper (glossy and smooth textured) before you melt it, you dont have to heat it to any precise temperature (so long as you dont exceed 120F (49C). If it is out of temper (dull, blemished, or grainy), you must melt dark chocolate to 115F (46C) and milk and white chocolate to 110F (43C).

  1. When tempering chocolate, it is essential to use a thermometer with a range of 80F (27C) to at least 130F (54C) to verify the temperature of the chocolate. (An infrared thermometer is the most accurate, fastest and least messy. You can use it for other applications such as determining oven or refrigerator temperature, oil temperature for frying, so it is a good investment. )


  1. Melt and temper more chocolate than you think youll need, unless you plan to use it all at one time. Leftover chocolate is reusable.


  1. Use a rubber spatula, not a metal or wooden spoon to stir the chocolate.


  1. Chocolate is forgiving. If at first you dont succeed, remelt your mistakes and try again.


Tempering Methods


Chunk Method:


  • Melt the chocolate.


  • Add chunks of solid tempered chocolate.


  • Stir to lower the temperature to less than 90F (32C) for dark chocolate and 88F (31C) for milk and white chocolates.

  • Remove the chunks.


  • Test the temper as demonstrated in class. (Smear a dab on wax paper and put into fridge for a minute or two. Remove and it should be shiny and snap when you bend it).


Controlled Method: (To be used only with well-tempered chocolate.)


  • Partially melt the chocolate, removing if from the heat source before the temperature exceeds 90F (32C) for dark chocolate and 88F (31C) for milk and white chocolates.

  • Stir to complete the melt.


  • If you exceed those temperatures, add chunks of solid chocolate and proceed to lower the temperature as directed in the Chunk Method above.


Adapted from The Art of Chocolate by Elaine Gonzles, Chronicle Books, 1998. All rights reserved.