One of the first things we learned in my baking class in culinary school was how to temper chocolate. I was SO excited to learn how to do this because for some reason it always really intimidated me and I never tried to learn it on my own. I have no idea why I was so intimidated, because as I learned in school it’s actually SUPER easy. Really all it takes is a little precision and patience and if you watch the video I made for you and follow the instructions, you will be on your way to tempering beautiful, shiny, hard chocolate in no time!
Tempered chocolate is wonderful to use when making homemade candy, such as truffles or peanut butter cups or peppermint bark, because it maintains a nice smooth, shiny, and hard texture even at room temperature. It gives your candy a professional quality and makes it much easier to serve and transport, not to mention it just tastes better because you get that wonderful snappy texture. Stay tuned for some recipes utilizing tempered chocolate.
I typically try to use E. Guittard Semisweet Chocolate Wafers when I temper chocolate. However, if I don’t have those on hand I use the highest quality chocolate available, and chop that up. The wafers are nice because they can just be tossed in the double boiler and you don’t have to worry about chopping up a bunch of chocolate, which happens to be one of my LEAST favorite kitchen tasks.
You can use a chocolate thermometer to register the temperature stages of tempering chocolate, or simply a high quality digital thermometer which is what I used in this video to show you that you don’t necessarily have to go buy special equipment to temper chocolate.
In the video note that I simply used a medium saucepan filled only a quarter of the way with barely simmering water and set a large glass bowl over it. This is an easy and cheap double boiler in a pinch, though you can of course purchase a dedicated double boiler if you’d like as the glass bowl does tend to shift while you stir and since a bowl doesn’t have a handle, you have to be careful not to burn yourself.
Fun uses for tempered chocolate:
Make homemade peanut butter cups (recipe coming soon!)
Dip pretzels or potato chips
Make chocolate garnishes
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High quality chocolate, chopped
High quality digital or chocolate thermometer
1. In a double boiler, melt 2/3 of the chocolate, stirring often, until the thermometer registers around 115°F, but absolutely no higher than 120°F. If tempering milk or white chocolate, heat to 110°F. Make sure all equipment is completely dry because water will cause the chocolate to seize.
2. Gradually seed in the remaining chocolate to bring the temperature down, stirring vigorously and constantly. Stir until the temperature drops to 84°F. This can take some time so just be patient, it will come down to temperature! Speed this process up by carefully placing the bowl of chocolate into an ice bath, making sure not to get ANY water in the chocolate.
3. Reheat the chocolate briefly by placing the bowl back over the double boiler for 5 to 10 seconds at a time, stirring, until it reaches 89°F. This is the “working temperature.” Do not leave the chocolate over the water or let it exceed 91°F.
4. You’re done! Test your temper by dipping a small piece of parchment into your chocolate. Let it sit at room temperature for a few minutes. The chocolate should be smooth and firm. If it’s streaky or runny try stirring in more chocolate to the mixture to bring the temperature down further.
5. Tempered chocolate can be tempered over and over again. You want to keep the working temperature of about 89°F when working with it. If it goes far below that temperature set it back over the double boiler until it is 89°F again. If it goes much above that temperature add more seed chocolate to drop the temperature.
You can temper any amount of chocolate you need, but note that tempering less than 16 ounces is becomes a little more difficult.