Well I think it has, after spending the better part of the weekend attempting to temper chocolate. I had originally had a craving for rocky road after seeing a slab of it the last time we visited Jones the Grocer. Never having attempted tempering chocolate before, I spent Saturday buying the things I needed – the ever reliable Sia Huat for the chocolate thermometer, and Sun Lik for a slab of Swiss dark chocolate (I decided to give the indulgence of Valrhona a skip until I had managed to get tempering right first).
First thing was to convert those damn Fahrenheit temperatures to Celsius which I am just not great at – so I had to write them down to make sure I didn’t have to faff about worrying about that when I was meant to be stirring.
The act of tempering chocolate is based on chemistry, which makes it more than just delicious for me. Chocolate contains cocoa butter, which, when melted can form six types of polymorphs – the ones we want to keep are the Beta of type V, which will result in a glossy coating that doesn’t melt in your fingers and has a nice “snap” when broken. Each crystal form has different melting and cooling temperatures, so by controlling the temperature at which you melt the chocolate and cool it to, you can help the Beta crystals (and not the other five types) to form.
The other really cool thing I learned about part of the tempering process is called “seeding”. This is where, after you have melted the chocolate the first time, you add (or “seed”) in already tempered chocolate, which the molten chocolate will imitate in its form.
The basics of tempering chocolate is to melt the chocolate to 46C, cool it while stirring to 29C and then reheat to 32C, when you can begin working with it to dip food in.
The things that I tried that made it successful were:
1) Don’t break your chocolate up in too small pieces (I still need to figure out why this helps)
2) My seeding chocolate was Lindt 70%, which is perfectly tempered
3) Patience when cooling the chocolate, and stirring constantly while it cools
Apart from that, the two evils of working with chocolate are water, which makes the chocolate seize, and overheating the chocolate (to more than 50C), which burns the chocolate and makes it unworkable.
I’ve got my rocky road setting on the bench (and not in the fridge!) and D cleaning the bowl of melted chocolate. What a lovely way to end the weekend.