Temperature. Crystals. Structure. And why good chocolate is well-tempered.
How do your favorite chocolates achieve that smooth, glossy coating, and the distinctive snap when you bite into it?
The key is tempering, which is the process of heating and cooling pure chocolate at precise temperatures so that the fat crystals align themselves into a more stable structure.
The fat in chocolate, called cocoa butter, can crystallize into six forms, each with different melting points. Only one type will produce that firm, shiny coat at about 90°F/ 32°C for dark chocolate (lower for milk or white chocolate). If you melt and cool chocolate at the wrong temperatures, other crystal types could set it up into a dull, streaky blob.
The easiest way to temper chocolate is called seeding. Melt chocolate to 122°F/ 50°C, let it cool to 90°F/ 32°C, then stir in well-tempered unmelted chocolate. The stable crystals in the solid chocolate will provide a base for the disorganized ones in the molten chocolate to build on, and the whole mixture will eventually set up properly.
If there’s a whitish, dust-like covering on your chocolate, it has fallen out of temper and is said to have bloomed. The fat or sugar has risen to the surface and recrystallized due to exposure to heat or moisture. It’s still safe to eat; it’s just not very pretty.
Feed me!Try tempering your own chocolate to coat strawberries with. Share your experiences in the comments below!
Like us? Snap to it and like me to discover more. All you need is a minute a day to explore the world’s marvels through the phenomenon of food!
photos: in order – depositphotos/gosphotodesign; flas100; NatashaPhoto; mblach