My Life as a Chocolatier

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I am not sure whether I am addicted to this chocolate tempering business or not.  One indication that I’m not is that I haven’t gone out and bought way too many chocolate moulds, the type of thing I would normally do when I am going through a new phase.  I have checked out a few websites, though …

My initial interest in chocolate tempering was to be able to coat my glacéd cumquats in lovely shiny chocolate.  Look at these beauties!  I can tick that box.  You would think I would now be able to move on but ….. it is never that simple.  I don’t feel I have really conquered chocolate tempering.

I have read just about every hit on Google on tempering chocolate and read every reference to it in my significant collection of cookbooks yet haven’t been able to find an answer to a question I have.

My problem is:  each explanation on tempering chocolate will give you one of two techniques, ignoring for the moment how you melt your chocolate and how you cool down your chocolate. But they don’t tell you why there are two methods.

One technique is to heat the chocolate to 48°C (the temperature varies but the concept is the same), cool the chocolate to 26°C and then gently reheat the chocolate to 31°C.

The second technique is heat the chocolate to 48°C and then cool it to 31°C.

The sharp ones out there will notice that the second technique is so much easier than the first.  I reduced the temperature to 26°C when making these chocolates and it was a pain in the arse.  A significant amount of the chocolate solidified.  Then, when I reheated the chocolate, it reached 31°C before all the solidified chocolate had re-melted. The previous time, when I just reduced the temperature to 31°C, was so much easier.

My theory was: if you are using seed chocolate (ie, you added some tempered chocolate (whether block or challets) to bring down the temperature of the melted chocolate), you don’t need to reduce the chocolate to 26°C (at which temperature the chocolate is beginning to solidify) because the seed chocolate is doing the work for you.  Its crystals are all in line and it is getting the other guys in line, too.  But, if you let the melted chocolate cool down by putting it over a bowl of iced water, or by working it on a marble slab, you need to reduce the temperature to 26°C because there is no solid chocolate telling the melted chocolate what to do.  It has to work it out all by itself.

I liked the theory but, alas, the first site I checked added seed chocolate and reduced the temp down to 26°C.

If you know why there are two techniques and the logic behind them or know of a good book on the subject, please, let me know.  I would really appreciate it.

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Anyway, here are some photos of my beautiful chocolates.  I coated the glacéd cumquats that I did last March.  Remember them?

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I saw this idea on the web.  You stick a tooth pick into one end of what you are dipping, dip it into the chocolate and then you stick it into a sieve to set.  It worked wonderfully for one sieve which was quite coarse but didn’t work at all with the finer sieve because we couldn’t get the toothpicks in deep enough for them to stand up.

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Whilst I was at it, I dipped some glacéd ginger left over from last Christmas.  Absolutely yum.

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The last photo is of some wafers I decided to coat.  They are about 2.5 cm square and hazelnut flavoured.  They worked out perfectly (much nicer than a KitKat) but, by this stage, the chocolate was getting a bit cool and they are not as shiny as the cumquats and ginger.

14 thoughts on “My Life as a Chocolatier

  1. Hi Glenda, I have just started mucking about with tempering chocolate (after years of foolishly just melting it). In my research I never came across the two-temp method, but your question echoes mine from the explanation of the three-temp method. Noting we want type 5 out of 6 crystal types;

    1) Heat to 45C to melt all types of crystals
    2) Cool to 27C to allow types 4 and 5 to form. Stir here. (bonus Q: why doesn’t type 6 form as we cool past its temp?)
    3) Warm to 31C (milk) or 32C (dark) to melt type 4, leaving only type 5.

    So naturally this poses the question of why even create type 4 in the first place, just cool to 31C and be done with it? The best guess I can come up with is that the type 5 do not form quickly enough at 31C, and 27C is only on the edge of type 4, so we’re maximising type 5 at the expense of a few type 4s (which we’ll melt later, second bonus Q: do the melted type 4s form into types 5s?).


    By the way, what did you think of the deZann couverture from your other post? If you want to sell a kg I’m interested! I’ve always bought couverture from Chokeby Road in Subiaco. Speaking to them last week these are actually the Lindt couverture they use for their chocolates, packaged into 200g bags. At $7.50 it’s not the cheapest way to buy it, and is the fairly mundane Lindt (by chocolate snob standards). Simon Johnson next door sells 1 or 3kg Valrhona bags, not sure of the price or stock regularity.

    • Hiya, Thanks so much for your response. It is all too hard for me. Celia at Fig Jam and Lime Cordial gets excellent results by just cooling to 31-32 degrees. I have tried cooling it to 26 degrees but by that time it is virtually solid and it doesn’t really remelt with the gentle reheating. I am now using the method by Peter Greweling in his book Chocolates and Confections at Home with The Culinary Institute of America. He doesn’t drop it so low before gently reheating. The trouble is I am still getting streaks.

      I am very impressed with the deZann chocolate. I had never heard of it before I started on this little escapade. Springer food (they are wholesalers but sell to the public) sells it in 5 kilo bags for $60. I have a tendency to eat the milk buttons straight from the bag and they are very very nice. It comes in 54%, 56%, 58% and 72% dark chocolate, 35% milk chocolate and 30% white chocolate. I am sure you will go through 5gks in a year. I made rocky road last week and used 1 kilo.

  2. Despite being fan of Celia at Fig Jam and Lime Cordial, I haven’t been a convert to chocolate, even the best. I like a small amount but don’t have a passion for it. If I had to choose between choclate and cheese, I’d go for cheese. That said, your wafers look lovely and I’d enjoy them witha cup of tea. The wafers take me back to being a kid when they were a treat, and Kit Kats tasted like they should, unlike now.

  3. As I said, I’ve never been able to make the cool down and then gently reheat method to work – I always end up with the chocolate getting to hot during the reheating process. I wonder if the original method of heating, cooling and reheating came about from the traditional method of working chocolate on a slab. It doesn’t seem to be necessary when you’re doing a small batch in a bowl, which (as you know) is how I do it.

    Here’s David Lebovitz’ post on tempering – he drops the chocolate down and reheats it. More people do that than not! 🙂

  4. This looks amazing, and I am sure I would be addicted to any of those treats if I could get my hands on them. Our cumquats are going to be ripe soon and I think I will give your glaced cumquat recipe a try. Somehow, that has Christmas present written all over it!

    • Hi Siobhan, The chocolate coated cumquats are to die for. Everyone loves them. Let me know if you do glace your cumquats as you will have lots of syrup left over and I have found a recipe in which I may be able to use it.

  5. I have no advise, know nothing about tempering chocolate, however I know I love a good dark chocolate and your dipped cumquats look amazing! Love the idea about sticking toothpicks into the sieve, great tip!

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