For anyone who has ever had microwave-melted chocolate seize up or turn to gritty mush while trying to make dessert, tempering is the answer. Perfect for dipping and coating, tempered chocolate is the result of calculated heating and cooling, which melts cocoa fat in just the right fashion to re-congeal without lumps or streaks. Tempered chocolate hardens to be perfectly smooth and shiny, breaks with a snap when bitten, and maintains all of the rich flavor of the original bar or bits.
To learn the technique, we went to Mr. Chocolate himself: Jacques Torres. A master pastry chef and chocolatier who has worked with sweets for nearly 45 years — after beginning a pastry apprenticeship at the age of 15 — Torres currently oversees eight eponymous chocolate stores, including one chocolate factory and two ice cream shops, in New York City. Watch for his breakdown of the chocolate tempering process, and read the tips and tricks in the video (and below) for making it work in a home kitchen.
How to Temper Chocolate at Home
Place a saucepan half filled with water over medium heat and cover with heat proof mixing bowl large enough to snugly rest on the rim of the saucepan.
Chop 2 pounds of chocolate into small pieces.
Place about 2/3 of the chopped chocolate into the bowl.
Use a rubber spatula to stir occasionally until the chocolate reaches about 100°F.
Carefully remove the bowl from the pan.
Stir in the remaining chocolate.
As the chocolate cools to a temperature of about 83°F-84°F, you will see the chocolate start to crystalize (harden) around the outside edge of the bowl.
Use the rubber spatula to stir the crystallized chocolate into the melted chocolate.
Being careful not to overheat it, place bowl of melted chocolate over simmering water until the chocolate reaches the ideal working temperature of 88°F- 90°F.
If the chocolate is tempered, a knife tip dipped into tempered chocolate will set with a nice shine after 60 seconds in the refrigerator.
Now you are ready to use the tempered chocolate!