A (chocolate) temper tantrum
When Range was just a twinkle in Supermechanical’s eye, I was most excited to use it for tempering chocolate - a skill I’ve never been able to master. As I’m testing Range with chocolate, I’ve made *a lot* of mistakes (and I still haven’t achieved the perfect temper, though through no fault of Range – I’m just too impatient).
So, what mistakes have I made that you can (and should) avoid?
Don’t let any water get into the chocolate (be extra careful if you’re melting chocolate in a double boiler). Since chocolate is so dry, any moisture will make the fats seize and that is terrible (if you add even more liquids, you can make a mousse/pudding/sauce which is good – but not tempered chocolate).
Don’t tet the chocolate get too hot – chocolate burns at relatively low temperatures (140ºF for dark, and even lower for milk and white chocolates)!
Make sure you let the chocolate cool enough before using it. If it’s too hot (well, warm really), it won’t properly set up – you want it to be shiny and have a nice snap when set.
My last attempt to temper chocolate was the best so far. It set quickly and I thought it was shiny (maybe I need my eyes checked though…) but the next day it was definitely dull (but not streaky, so that’s a plus?) and lacking in snap when broken.
I’ve read most (all?) these is to read about tempering chocolate on the internet, but it didn’t really click for me until I read the Wikipedia article for chocolate. The tl;dr version?
There are 6 different types of crystals that form from cocoa butter – you want tempered chocolate to be comprised of the 5th type of crystal that forms at 93ºF. To do this, you have to melt the chocolate to 115ºF to melt all of the types of crystals, and then cool it to 81ºF to form the 4th and 5th crystal types (the easiest way to do this is to seed the melted chocolate with already tempered chocolate). Once that’s done, you’ll bring the temperature back up to 88ºF which will leave you with only the best crystals (and a perfect temper).
It sounds so easy in theory.