Tempering is a way of precisely melting chocolate so that it has that nice, glossy finish that you see on professionally made candies. Tempered chocolate is heated, cooled and then warmed again. It “snaps” when bitten into, does not readily melt when touched and possesses a smooth, “melt-in-your-mouth quality.” Use the best chocolate you can afford when making confections calling for tempered chocolate.
- 1½ pound high-quality chocolate, cut in almond-size pieces
- Rubber or silicone spatula for stirring
- Double boiler
- Reliable candy thermometer
Fill the bottom of a double boiler with water, and bring to a simmer on the stove. Add two-thirds of the chocolate pieces to the top of the double boiler, and place over the water. (Be sure the bottom of the double boiler does not touch the water. It is important that absolutely no water get into the chocolate.)
Place a candy thermometer in the top of the double boiler so that you can easily monitor the chocolate’s temperature. Stir the chocolate gently with a spatula as it melts. When the chocolate reaches 120 degrees for dark chocolate or 105 degrees for milk or white chocolate, remove the pan from the heat, but allow water in bottom of double boiler to continue simmering, adding more water as needed. Wipe the bottom of the pan to remove condensation. Add the remaining chocolate pieces, a little at a time, stirring until chocolate is well incorporated and melted before adding additional pieces. Allow the chocolate to cool to 82 degrees.
Return the chocolate to the top of the double boiler, where the water should still be simmering. Heat the dark chocolate 88 to 91 degrees or 85 to 87 degrees for the milk or white chocolate. Remove the top of the double boiler from the heat. The chocolate should now be properly tempered.
You can test the chocolate by spreading a thin layer on a sheet of wax paper. If the chocolate is shiny and smooth and hardens quickly, it is properly tempered. If it is dull and streaky, it has not been tempered correctly, and you need to start over by bringing the dark chocolate to 120 degrees and the milk or white chocolate to 105 degrees; cooling the chocolate to 82 degrees and then reheating the dark chocolate to 88 to 91 degrees and the milk or white chocolate to 85 to 87 degrees.
Tempered chocolate that is still relatively liquid, but has fallen between 84 and 86 degrees may be reheated until is completely liquid. If the chocolate has become too cool, or solid, it should be reheated until it has reached 88 to 91 degrees for dark chocolate and 85 to 87 degrees for milk or white chocolate. Be careful not to overheat the chocolate.