Scientifically Sweet: How to Temper Chocolate & Make Truffles at home!

Friday, April 28, 2017

How to Temper Chocolate & Make Truffles at home!

There are a few things you must have and must know in order to make shiny, snappy tempered chocolates at home. I'm about to tell you them so you can do it. Believe me, believe in yourself - you can do this. Everyone seems to become an expert by watching youtube and reading tutorials on the internet these days, so have faith.

Things you must have:
1. Chocolate molds - I use silicone ones. They are easy to find and use. Go to a kitchen supply shop and pick out the shape you like.
2. Thermometer - tempering chocolate means taking temperatures. 
3. High quality dark chocolate - if you are going to take the time to do this, don't waste it on shabby chocolate. Get the good stuff. Couverture chocolate is best for confectionery because it has a high cocoa butter content, and thus high fluidity for coating and moulding, but regular (good quality) chocolate is perfectly fine. I prefer this one.
3. Patience.

Things you need to know:
1. Choose a cool dry day - hot and humidity will make for a mess and stress.
2. Give yourself space - chocolate-making can sometimes be messy work.

The fillings are up to you. Can't go wrong with a simple ganache, salted butter caramel or peanut butter for something fast and easy.

How to Temper Chocolate
The temperatures to which you heat and cool your chocolate depends on the cocoa content. If you are using dark chocolate with a cocoa content between 60 and 70%, then follow these guidelines.

Method 1: First chop up all of your chocolate very finely. The smaller the pieces, the faster and more evenly it will melt. If your chocolate is already glossy and shiny and well-tempered, then you can skip a bunch of steps. WOO! But, and I mean BUT, for this to be successful you must have very small pieces and be very precise. The goal is to just barely melt the chocolate so that it is fluid but not a single degree over 90°F. If it goes to 92°F, then you risk melting and disassembling the organized cocoa butter crystal structure that your chocolate manufacturer has worked hard to build.

The idea is that you are going to melt the chocolate, but not enough to melt the desirable crystals that keep it in temper. You need to stir constantly for even melting over very low heat and monitor the temperature very carefully.

Method 2: The next method is also a shortcut but does involve some maneuvering. First melt all of the chocolate to 120°F. That melts ALL of the crystals. Then remove it from the heat and cool it down by stirring constantly until it reaches 100°F. Once it reaches that temperature, start adding more very finely chopped or grated (even better!) tempered chocolate until it cools to 90°F. The already tempered chocolate that you are adding acts as template to encourage the melted chocolate to set in the same shape. At 90°F, the chocolate is ready to use for dipping, dunking, molding or coating.

Keep in mind that the temperatures are different for different types of chocolate - in general dark is 120°F, milk is 115°F and white is 110°F.

Method 3: The last method is the most tedious and is absolutely required if you are already working with bloomed (ie. not shiny/glossy) chocolate. First melt all of the chocolate to 120°F. That melts ALL of the crystals. Then remove it from the heat and cool it down by stirring constantly until it reaches 82°F (78-80°F for white and milk chocolate). This can take a very long time depending on the temperature of your kitchen (assuming you are doing this in the kitchen). To help it along, add a fresh chunk of already tempered chocolate to the pool when it reaches 100°F. This will cool down the mixture quickly while providing nuclei too. If you have a cool room or a cantina, step in there while stirring the chocolate to accelerate the cooling.

At 82°F we can be sure that certain crystals will have formed (namely crystal forms IV and V). Form V is the most favorable so now we want rewarm the chocolate to melt any form IV's and keep V. Place the bowl over the heat again and bring it to 90°F while stirring constantly. Do not let it go over 90°F! It is now ready to use. You can continue to use this chocolate and reheat it to 90°F as you are molding.

At this magic temperature of 90°F, you should have a pool of form V crystals that will set to a firm snap and glossy shine.

Get ready to make truffles!

1. Place a wire rack over a large baking tray that's lined with parchment or waxed paper (for easy clean-up).

2. To create your tempered shells, pour a generous amount of tempered chocolate over the mold, filling in all of the shapes. Now, turn it over and hold it over your bowl of tempered chocolate and let the excess drip back down into the pool. Place the mold (updside down) onto the rack and let it rest for 1 or 2 minutes to let excess chocolate continue to drip. This will leave you with even, thin shells.

3. Turn the mold right-side-up and sweep an off-set spatula or palette knife flush with the surface to scrape away any chocolate that collects on the flat surface around the indentations. Now place it on a tray and refrigerate until hard and set. This normally takes just 10-15 minutes if your chocolate is tempered properly.

4. Once set, remove the mold from the fridge and fill each cavity with whatever you desire. Let set again and then cover with more tempered chocolate. [At this point you may need to carefully re-heat the chocolate to 90°F so that it is fluid and workable. I normally keep the bowl resting over a saucepan of very warm/barely hot water (off the heat). Make sure the water is not hotter than 90°F.] Again, sweep an off-set spatula or palette knife flush with the surface to scrape away any chocolate that collects on the flat surface around the indentations. Refrigerate to set and then pop the chocolates out of the molds. Brush with edible gold dust for an extra special touch.

To make spheres, you need to "glue" two domes together. Place a dry frying pan over very low heat. If using gas, just warm up the pan and then remove it from the heat. Take two chocolates and place them flat-side-down on the warm pan to melt the flat sides just slightly and then press them together. Let them set and you're sailing.

Big love

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  1. Thanks for all this info! I've always had a hard time tempering chocolate. How do you know if your chocolate is tempered or not? Do you have any brands you recommend? And if you're doing method 3 (assuming you're starting with untempered chocolate), if you do not have any tempered chocolate, will it work to add a chunk of untempered to help lower the overall temp? Or is that no good? And once you've already tempered your chocolate and it starts to cool, should you reheat to 90 degrees? Thanks!

    1. Test to see if your chocolate is tempered by putting a thin coat on a knife and place it in the fridge. If it sets up quickly, firm and glossy without streaks, then it has been tempered correctly. I prefer Barry Callebaut or Lindt chocolate. If you do not have any tempered chocolate for method 3, then don't add any - you will just have to be patient and let it cool with constant stirring. Yes once your tempered chocolate cools, you can reheat

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  7. how long do these truffles last at room temperature? in the fridge?

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