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Basic Tempered Chocolate

from Sweet Chic: Stylish Treats to Dress Up Any Occasion by Rachel Thebault

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Photo from Sweet Chic by Rachel Thebault, Copyright © 2011 Reprinted with Permission

Photo from Sweet Chic: Stylish Treats to Dress Up Any Occasion

Photo from Sweet Chic by Rachel Thebault, Copyright © 2011 Reprinted with Permission
Tempered chocolate solidifies easily into a hard, shiny chocolate that snaps when broken. It can be worked into a variety of shapes, spread into sheets, and used in molds. Tempering chocolate also keeps cocoa butter from rising to the surface of the chocolate and "blooming" into unsightly light brown patches.

Many chocolate experts will teach you to temper using the marble slab method: You heat your chocolate, then pour it onto a cool marble slab, stirring and working the chocolate with a bench scraper until it has cooled to the proper temperature and then returning it to your bowl. This is a beautiful, classic French method to use, but as large marble slabs aren't readily available for this purpose, here's how to use the seed method. Be sure to have an accurate digital thermometer on hand.

2 cups (about 12 ounces) finely chopped bittersweet chocolate (milk or white chocolate can also be used, as desired)

  1. Melt 1-1/2 cups of the chocolate in a bowl over a double boiler. Stir constantly with a rubber spatula or wooden spoon to ensure uniform temperature. Set the remaining 1/2 cup chocolate aside.
  2. Once the chocolate has fully melted and reached a temperature of 105 to 108 degrees F (102 to 104 degrees F for milk or white chocolate), remove it from the heat. At this temperature, all the crystals will melt and stabilize. Add the remaining chocolate that was set aside and stir. Be aware: if the chocolate rises above 120 degrees F (118 degrees F for milk or white chocolate), it will be unusable for tempering.
  3. Stir until the chocolate's temperature cools to between 82 and 84 degrees F (80 and 82 degrees F for milk or white chocolate).
  4. Return the bowl to the double boiler and heat slightly until the temperature is 86 to 88 degrees F (82 to 84 degrees F for milk or white chocolate), about 1 minute.
  5. Use the chocolate as soon as possible, or keep it at this temperature over a pot of simmering water until ready to use. Be sure to continue to stir it and monitor the temperature closely. Take the chocolate off the heat if the temperature begins to rise toward 90 degrees F(86 degrees F for milk or white chocolate). Please note: The longer you wait to use it, the more likely the chocolate will be out of temper.

FASHION EMERGENCY: Chocolate is easier to temper in larger quantities because the temperature won't fluctuate as quickly. For that reason, it is always advisable to temper more chocolate than you think you'll need. That way you won't be left short and needing to temper only a small additional quantity. Unused tempered chocolate can be poured onto a sheet pan lined with parchment paper and used for baking or re-tempering.

The above is an excerpt from the book Sweet Chic: Stylish Treats to Dress Up for Any Occasion by Rachel Thebault. Copyright © 2011. Reprinted with permission.

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