A few years ago I didn’t know anything about melting chocolate, but I wanted to find out why it remained so soft after solidification and went to investigate. If you’ve ever done that, you’ve probably come across the word temper. Very briefly: by heating the chocolate you destroy the cocoa butter and sugar crystals and by lowering the temperature you repair them. In the meantime, you can change the shape of the chocolate. By dipping truffles in it, for example, or simply by filling a bonbon mold. Today I will tell you more about tempering chocolate without a thermometer.
How to Temper Chocolate With or Without a Thermometer
You can temper your chocolate in different ways; with and without a thermometer. With a thermometer, you work more accurately and it is almost impossible to go wrong, without a thermometer it is less hassle, but because you are not sure of the exact temperature, there is a chance that it will not work out quite right. Yet I almost always choose the tempering method without a thermometer. I do this by melting part of the chocolate and then adding the rest. This is also known as the grafting method. In the beginning, it sometimes went wrong, but nowadays it almost never happens. You get to know chocolate better and better and therefore know better when it is good. There are of course some tricks for that, I’ll tell you how I always approach it.
Divide the amount of chocolate you want to melt into three parts. You melt two of those parts at the same time, you only add the last part later, you do this to reduce the temperature.
How To Temper Chocolate Without A Thermometer
Milk and dark chocolate are easier to melt than white chocolate. White chocolate is sensitive to heat. When it gets too hot it burns and becomes grainy. I always melt the chocolate in the microwave at intervals of 10 seconds, so you keep a close eye on it and make sure it doesn’t go too fast and therefore gets too hot. Of course, you can also melt the chocolate au bain, Marie, make sure the bowl is not hanging in the water and keep a close eye on it. For any type of chocolate, you should stop heating it as soon as it has completely melted.
When the chocolate has completely melted, add the last part of the chocolate. This melts due to the heat of the already melted chocolate, so you immediately reduce the temperature (and repair the crystals).
Tempering Chocolate The Easy Way
Once the chocolate has melted, test the temperature. Since you don’t use a thermometer, you have to rely on yourself with a simple trick. Dip your finger in the chocolate and dab it on your upper lip. Your skin is much more sensitive here and therefore acts as a thermometer, as it were. Does the chocolate feel a little cool to the touch? Then it’s good and you can continue processing the chocolate! Still a bit warm, then keep stirring gently, test the chocolate every now and then for temperature.
There will be a number of chocolate connoisseurs who will frown and just not (or maybe even) think I’m crazy because this is not the official method. To be absolutely sure, use a thermometer. However, I learned this trick from a chocolatier at the bakery museum and it works (after practicing a few times) every time. And because not every home baker has a (sugar) thermometer in the kitchen drawer, I would like to share this tip with you!
Whichever way you use, as soon as the temperature is right you can process the chocolate. Result? The chocolate solidifies faster, has a nice shine and you hear the desired ‘crunch’ when you break the chocolate. No more dull, whitish and soft chocolate! You may not succeed the first time, but don’t give up. I also had to practice a few times before I realized it and I knew exactly how the chocolate should feel in terms of temperature.