Why Should Chocolate Be Tempered?

It’s not unreasonable that chocolate is called “God’s drink”. Its delicacy is not only reflected in the fact that cocoa-nuts only grow in certain countries and regions on the earth, and they want to deal with chocolate. If you don’t understand it, it is a headache. The problems will be endless. What is the best way to deal with chocolate? Master the techniques of temperature regulation!

chocolate
chocolate

I have heard a theory in the classroom of many teachers: the three elements that affect the tempering of chocolate-temperature, time, and stirring action. Today, we will use them as the starting point and talk about chocolate tempering in a scientific way.

The concept of tempering refers to changing the crystal state in chocolate to make it solidify at room temperature. Correctly tempered chocolate is very shiny, has a crisp “cracking” sound when broken, and has an exact melting point.

In the final analysis, the tempering of chocolate is the tempering of cocoa butter. Cocoa butter always exists in the form of crystals. At different temperatures, crystals will take on different sizes and shapes. This feature is called polymorphic crystallization. Without it, we might live in a world without chocolate.

01 temperature

The formation of perfect cocoa crystals is achieved by adjusting the temperature. The existence of cocoa crystals has specific requirements for the environment. For example, the crystal will not exist when it does not exceed 17°C. After this temperature, its shape will change and become another crystal.

Let me first introduce the temperature of 6 different states of cocoa crystal:

  • State 1: 17℃
  • State 2: 23℃
  • State 3: 25.5℃
  • State 4: 27℃
  • State 5: 34°C
  • State 6: 36℃

Almost all crystals are unstable. The intermediate state in the chocolate is a loose, weak, and uneven fat network. Chocolate in this state may generally have two conditions: it is difficult to solidify when it is liquid, or the temperature is higher than room temperature. It quickly melted by heat.

cocoa beans
cocoa beans

So what is the level of cocoa crystals in the perfect chocolate state? That is when the cocoa crystal temperature reaches state 5. The crystal structure of cocoa in this state is tight, and the chocolate’s strength and stability are the best at this time.  Therefore, chocolate tempering is when cocoa butter crystals reach state 5 by adjusting the temperature.

Now I will take the marble tempering method tempered dark chocolate as an example to illustrate what happens to the cocoa butter during the tempering process:

PS: The tempering temperature of different chocolate brands will be slightly different, and the primary product packaging will be marked. Please refer to the guide temperature of the chocolate brand you choose when the actual temperature is adjusted.

First, heating the chocolate to a temperature where no crystals will exist is equivalent to giving us a space to regain crystals. This temperature is 45°C for dark chocolate (with a cocoa content of more than 58%) and 40°C for milk chocolate and white chocolate; why is there a difference between them? Because milk and white chocolate contain more powdered milk than dark chocolate, they are easier to burn and melt at high temperatures.

At a high temperature of 45°C, the chocolate melts due to the lack of crystals. The next step is cooling: cooling is to keep the temperature of the crystals between 1-4. At this time, we have to create a growth environment and precondition for the crystals. Allow enough time for them to reach the perfect state level 5 slowly.

After cooling down, the perfect crystals (hexagons) in state 5 are slowly formed between unstable crystals (other shapes) in states 1-4, and the state of chocolate lacks stability at this time.

At this time, it needs to be adequately heated. The excess heat can make all the crystals grow to the perfect structure of state 5 (the temperature needs to reach 32.5°C); is the temperature adjustment finished at this time? Not necessarily. After reheating, the crystals in states 1-4 are all decomposed and reorganized to form the perfect crystals in state 5.

Cooling and warming chocolate is not enough. From the technical level of temperature regulation alone, you can completely put the chocolate in a constant temperature room after heating up and melting. It will also reach the temperature of state 5. Still, this method cannot be said to have a temperature regulation process.

Although the chocolate after cooling in this way does appear to be condensed, it is actually not firm and easily broken, so the temperature change alone is not enough to achieve the purpose of chocolate tempering.

02 stirring

Another critical action in temperature regulation is stirring. By stirring the chocolate, you can make the crystals move and mix. This process will cause a chain reaction. Like the spread of a virus, different crystals will affect each other, so you must keep the chocolate when adjusting the temperature. It is a state of constant stirring so that more and more perfect crystals will be produced.

chocolate tempering
chocolate tempering

As the chocolate thickens, the cocoa crystals continue to produce inter-chain reactions to form a tight network to make the chocolate more robust and stable. While this network is formed, the pulling force between the crystals will reduce the overall area of the chocolate (about 2% of the total capacity). Hence, it is not difficult to understand why the perfectly tempered chocolate is particularly easy to demould.

03 hours

In fact, for chocolate, the temperature after tempering has a range: more than 34°C is too hot, and less than 26°C is too cold; for delicate chocolate, too high a temperature is not enough. When the temperature exceeds 34°C, the crystals in the chocolate are slowly disappearing. If you accidentally overheat it, we need to directly increase the temperature to 45°C and restart the temperature adjustment action of cooling and heating.

cocoa powder
cocoa powder

So what if the temperature is too low? What we can see with the naked eye is that chocolate will set quickly. After knowing the crystal theory, we can easily understand that the crystals in chocolate with a too low-temperature range from states 1-4, and perfect crystals are still forming. Time is volatile.

If the chocolate sets too quickly, it looks set on the surface, but there is not enough time for the crystals to arrange into a complete network from the inside. The result is that the chocolate is not strong enough and easily breaks. If it continues to be in a high-temperature environment, imperfect crystals will grow and gather wantonly, forming an uneven distribution of fat frost on the surface of the chocolate.

This just illustrates the influence of tempering time in the chocolate tempering process.

So, don’t you know how to temper chocolate after reading these? Chocolate factories will use Chocolate Tempering Machine during production, but in life, you might try the following tempering methods:

1 Microwave temperature adjustment method

  1. Pour the chocolate into the melting pot, put it in the microwave oven and heat for 30 seconds, then take out the observation state, repeat the steps until the chocolate is in a melted state (no need to stir)
  2. Then change the heating time to 20s, take out the shaking and melting pot at intervals until the chocolate is half melted, change the time to 10~15s until most of it is melted, stir and mix.
  3. Finally, control the heating time of 3~5s until the chocolate is completely melted, and use it when the temperature reaches about 31°C after stirring.

Tips:

  1. Through microwave heating, temperature adjustment is performed during the heating process
  2. Pay attention to the state of the chocolate during the microwave heating process and control the heating time

Advantages: Can be completed in a short time

Disadvantages: Inability to perform a large amount of temperature adjustment at one time, the adjusted chocolate is slightly thicker

2 seed method

Melt the chocolate to 45°C, add 1/3 of the new untempered chocolate, keep stirring until there are no chocolate particles, and use when the temperature drops to 32°C.

3 water cooling method

  1. Melt the chocolate to 45°C, put it directly on ice water, and stir it with a rubber spatula.
  2. The temperature is lowered to 27°C. During the cooling process, the chocolate at the bottom of the chocolate basin will condense first, so keep stirring and mixing to prevent the occurrence of agglomeration.
  3. Continue to stir or heat with water, and let the temperature rise to 31°C.

Tips:

Although the method is the same as the “marble temperature adjustment method”, the difference lies in the “rapid cooling” with cold water. To avoid excessive solidification, place the chocolate pot on ice water repeatedly, repeat the action, and observe the state

Advantages: Quick temperature adjustment can be achieved with only chocolate pots

Disadvantage: Can’t temper a large amount of chocolate at once

4 Marble temperature regulation method

  1. Keep the marble countertop clean and water-free. The temperature is between 21~24°C. Heat the tempered chocolate to 45~50°C to melt it. Put 2/3 of the amount on the marble everywhere. Use a spatula to spread back and forth to cool down 26~27°C, make a crystal nucleus.
  2. Then mix it into the original chocolate, let the whole temperature reach 29~30°C, stir evenly to 28~32°C before use.

Tips:

The spread area of the chocolate should be as large as possible to avoid too much air and quickly mix well to reduce the temperature effectively.

Advantages: Can adjust the temperature of a large amount of chocolate at once

Disadvantages: a sanitary marble table needs to be prepared, and it needs to be cleaned after tempering.

If this chocolate tempering knowledge can help you better understand the chocolate tempering process?

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