These tips and tricks will help you solve the most common problems with chocolate tempering.
It can be frustrating to work with chocolate, and we know that better than anyone! It’s temperamental, literally. It is susceptible to temperature changes, humidity/moisture, and agitation. etc.! Everything is going your way. You temper chocolate perfectly, but then things go wrong.
A chocolatier or chocolatier’s most crucial skill is tempering chocolate. You will likely need to practice it many times before you become a master at tempering chocolate. A tempering machine will make your life much easier once you have enough money for your hobby or business. However, even though you have a machine, you can still learn how to temper. It’s not about the result. It is about understanding the process, including the chemistry, the steps, and what you are looking for.
Tips for troubleshooting chocolate tempering
There are a few common reasons why chocolate doesn’t temper properly.
Adjust the temperature and humidity in your work area
You will need to adjust your temper for temperature changes, whether it was hotter or colder in the room during the practice session. You can adjust for the seed amount, how complicated the marble slab or cool water bath is, and keep the tempered stable in warm water baths. Temper can also be affected by too much humidity and a dry climate. Air conditioning and humidity control are essential for commercial operations. 64-70°F (18-21°C) is the ideal temperature for chocolate production. 50 to 65% humidity is recommended.
Make sure your thermometer is working correctly.
You will be observing tiny temperature variations from one degree to another. It is essential to ensure that your equipment works properly. After stirring the chocolate mass thoroughly, you must measure the temperature. This is optional if the group has been sitting for some time. A thick group can develop cool and hot spots.
Continue stirring the chocolate mass and stirring it to your temper.
Did you stir the mass continuously throughout the process? You run the risk that the solidified part of the mass will be left on the slab or in a bowl. The chocolate that is up against the bowl’s hot bottom can get too hot and cause it to lose its temper. It would help if you were cautious as we refer to differences between one and two degrees.
Avoid introducing air bubbles into your chocolate mass.
It would help if you stirred or agitated with a pull, push, and not a whipping motion to ensure that you don’t introduce any air. This will prevent air bubbles from forming. These bubbles can cause problems when molding. Air bubbles can be more common when tempering non-couverture chocolates, i.e. One with a higher viscosity. It would help if you always researched the thickness before you use it. This will help you determine whether it is better for ganache (more viscous) or enrobing/molding.
Do not over-temper your chocolate mass.
You can stir the chocolate mass at the working temperature for a longer time, creating more V-form crystals. This makes it thicker and more challenging to work with. You can use either of the following methods to melt some V-form crystals:
- Warm chocolate should be added at 115°F (47°C). It would help if you did not raise the temperature too high, as this will cause the chocolate to lose its temper.
- Heat the chocolate mass edges with a heat gun or in hot water. Mix the warm chocolate thoroughly into the mass.
Do you see what we mean by chocolate being temperamental? Wait, there’s more!
Do not shock your chocolate! It doesn’t like surprises!
Fat bloom can happen if the center you are enrobing becomes too cold or moist. You can also get a fat color from too long putting the enrobed center in the fridge. Again, moisture and cold can encourage fat or sugar to bloom.
Do a temper test
Place a small amount of tempered cocoa on a parchment, utensil, or acetate before you use the mass for molding or enrobing. It should be set up in a matter of minutes. When working with the chocolate, stir it occasionally and conduct another temper test.
Okay, so you’ve completed a failed tempering session. Now what?
The chocolate can be re-tempered over and over. There is one downside to this: the chocolate will be dense. Start your next tempering session with fresh chocolate if you suspect the mass has been compromised. The compromised assembly can be used in recipes like ganache and truffle centers, so it doesn’t get wasted.
Once you are done, transfer the tempered chocolate onto parchment paper or acetate. Let it set for storage. One of our students puts the excess tempered chocolate in a plastic bag with a zip top, seals it, and then flattens it to harden. It is easy to store the flat shape, then break it into pieces and pour it back into your tempering bowl or bowl to melt.
Why does the chocolate tempered chocolate make the mass harden with the bloom?
A tempered chocolate mass large enough can become untempered if the heat in the middle of it doesn’t escape. It retains heat in its center and cools slowly. This is because of the latent heat from crystallization. When chocolate crystallizes, it emits heat (an exothermic response) and can become hot enough to melt. Cooling chocolate pieces quickly consolidating because of the latent heat is crucial. Your mold or dipped piece should be placed in a refrigerator for at least 15 minutes as soon as it crystallizes around its edges. This will help eliminate latent heat and keep the pieces from throwing away each other.
Some cocoa butter molecules can release during cooling, rise to the surface level, or become trapped in layers. This is normal. To temper the mass or to use it in a recipe, you will need to heat it again. This will allow you to mix the cocoa butter into the group.
To temper untempered chocolate again, melt any unstable crystals that have formed or solidified. Heat the untempered chocolate mass to at least 110°F (46°C) for milk and white chocolate.
A hint of bloom may occur if you mold very thick bars, suckers, or 3D shapes. The set side of the chocolate will be smooth, shiny, and tempered. The exposed chocolate can have light spots or rings, which could be an issue for you. This problem can be overcome by using layers of chocolate instead of one pour.
Very Important Note: Please refer to the manufacturer’s tempering instructions for the chocolate you use. This information can be found on the packaging and the manufacturer’s site.
These tips and tricks are intended to help you overcome any difficulties you may face when tempering chocolate.