The Biggest Mistakes You're Making While Tempering Chocolate

Chocolate can be a difficult confection to work with, especially if you are giving it a try for the first time at home. Depending on how and for how long chocolate is melted, you can actually get different results because the cocoa butter that is in the chocolate has a crystalline structure (via Cook's Illustrated). It is this crystalline structure that allows chocolate to have a nice shine and a perfectly crisp snap to it once it has been properly tempered and cooled. Tempering chocolate requires some practice, but with the right techniques, we're sure you can master the task.

To temper chocolate, you first heat some of the solid chocolate it until it melts; Then, add more chocolate that's been finely chopped or shaved to the melted chocolate. Once the solid chocolate has been mixed in, you reheat the entire batch just enough to allow the new chocolate to be fully incorporated. While this process appears to just melt the chocolate in multiple steps, you are actually allowing the chocolate to build new crystals as it cools. With these new crystals, the tempered chocolate should have its characteristic snap and shine.

Tips to fix problematic tempered chocolate

The two biggest mistakes you can make while tempering chocolate are to allow water to get into the chocolate, causing it to seize, or to overheat the chocolate (via The Spruce Eats). To keep chocolate from seizing, you need to make sure that any bowls and utensils you are using (such as the spoon you use to stir the chocolate) are completely dry. Wood can be problematic since it tends to harbor moisture and can introduce it to the chocolate. To fix seized chocolate, you can add either boiling water or vegetable shortening to dissolve the lumps.

Depending on what kind of chocolate you are using, there are corresponding temperatures that each should not go over. For example, dark chocolate should always stay below 120 degrees Fahrenheit, while milk and white chocolate top out at 110. If you do overheat your chocolate, you can fix it fairly easily by cooling it down quickly. Just transfer the chocolate to a cool bowl immediately and add more chopped chocolate. Stir the chopped chocolate until it has melted, since this will also help to lower the temperature. If that doesn't work, use a sieve to remove any chunks of chocolate that are left behind. Though you should be able to fix any tempered chocolate problems, it's easiest to just be careful and pay attention upfront. Be sure to use tools that are totally dry and keep a close eye on the temperature by using a candy thermometer.