Tempered chocolate is used for coating truffles and for moulding chocolate. Without becoming too technical, it is possible to temper chocolate at home with a standard candy (sugar) thermometer.
Melt about two-thirds of the chocolate in a bain-marie until fluid, 118-131°F (48-55°C), which melts all the crystals in the chocolate. Add the remaining one-third of the chocolate, very finely chopped; this causes the chocolate to solidify. Finally, return the chocolate to the still warm bain-marie and allow it to melt again using the residual heat.
The exact temperatures for tempering will vary, depending on the type of chocolate you are using. Milk and white chocolates, for example, need lower temperatures, while bittersweet (dark) chocolate, with a high percentage of cocoa butter, needs a higher temperature. Couverture chocolate, used by many professionals, should have the recommended temperatures on the wrapping. If you use tempered chocolate for moulding Easter eggs and other shapes, you should achieve predictable results, and the unmoulding should be simple. For a really glossy finish, start with perfectly clean, dry moulds. Pour in the tempered chocolate, invert the mould over a wire rack to drain off any excess (there should be a layer about .5 cm/¼ in thick), then turn back into the upright position.
Leave the chocolate in the mould for about 24 hours in a cool room. To unmould, invert the mould and tap the back with a wooden spoon, then lift off.
At the risk of repeating myself, never let chocolate come into contact with direct heat or water. Both of these will cause melted chocolate to be ruined and it will have to be thrown away. Too much heat will burn the chocolate, and moisture will cause the chocolate to solidify.
A note on the recipe measurements:
- 1 cup = 8 oz American cup
- 1 pint = 20 oz Imperial pint
- 1 tablespoon = 15 ml spoon
- 1 teaspoon = 5 ml spoon
In England, single cream contains 18% fat, whipping cream 38.9%, and double cream 47.5% fat. If in doubt about which type to use, check the details on the container.
© 1993 Chantal Coady. All rights reserved.