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I cannot shout HELP!! loud enough. Can my thermometer be wrong? I am waiting for a infra red one, but until I have to use what I have.

I am tempering Valrhona. Whilst seeding I try to let the temperature go down to 28C, but I cannot do it as the thermometer says it is still 31C, but the seed does not want to melt any more and the chocolate is very thick and starting to clump on the sides. What am I doing wrong or is it the thermometer? I have to say the weather is not ideal as it is raining, so humidity is a problem. I try and keep the temperature at 20C, but as it is the same room I have to melt the chocolate with a bain marie causing moisture.


Another question, can the humidity give me trouble with my ganache? It is way to soft even though I follow the recipes to the letter as I have been doing all the time with no problem.


Any help will be appreciated.

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I would temprer the chocolate via different method.  First, you need to follow the temp chart on the Valrhona bag, the chocolate contains lots of cocoa butter and thus needs to be melted to a higher the 50's celcius.  The technique you should use, I am not sure of how many pounds you are trying to temper, but I would use a marble slab or a bain marie.

With the marble slab, or stainless steel work top, cool the table with ice first to get the surface cold. Dry table well and then pour 2/3 of chocolate on table and cool the chocolate until the chocolate feels cool on your top lip (THE LIP TEST).  Pour it into the remaining 1/3 warm chocolate and stir well.  Try taking the temp or do the lip test again.  You should not feel any warmth on your lip.  It should feel slightly cool. 

If you don't have a marble slab or hard surface, then use the bain marie.  Instead of hot water, you need to use ice and water mixed together and place 2/3 chocolate in the pan and on top of the ice.  Cool it down and then pour the remaining 1/3 chocolate into the mixture and stir well.

Humidity can be a problem. Sometimes you need to add cocoa butter to thin the chocolate out if it gets to thick.

Thanks, sorry I am only replying now as I have been struggling with this. I find the water method difficult, but I suppose I should try it again. Thought I will just let you know that I have read your answer even though I did not reply immediately, things are hectic with me having a hard time with the tempering. I thought I had it and today things started going all wrong again.

Go to the BArry Callebaut website. Actually, Callebaut and Cocoa Barry may have their own website.  In both websites are training videos which you might find very helpful

I don't know if this link will work but it is in the Cocoa Barry website.  They both have excellent training videos.

Thanks Debra, will do

Here is the Callebaut link for the on line videos






It sounds to me like your thermometer is innacurate.   Your working temperature should be around 31 or 32 degrees.


Check your thermometer's high and low temperatures.


High temperature test:  boil some water and take the temperature.  Adjust your boling point approximately 1.5 degrees celcius for every thousand feet above sea level.  (for example, your boiling point of water at 3,000 feet above sea level will be approximately 95.5 degrees C)


Low temperature test:  fill a small bowl with as much ice as possible, then fill the rest of it with water.  Stir and insert your thermometer.  It should read very close to zero.


You need to test both ends because the way that thermometers work doesn't mean they are accurate at all points along the range they measure.


You will also find that high humidity will require you to raise the "bottom" temperature of your tempering cycle a degree or so on occasion.  Chocolate is very hygroscopic, meaning it very easily absorbs water and odor from its surroundings.  Water causes chocolate to get very thick, and will cause you grief if you don't make the necessary adjustments.


No offence to Debra, but I personally wouldn't recommend that you add cocoa butter to your chocolate to thin it.  Not only does that dilute the chocolate, dull the flavor, and change the viscosity of the chocolate, but it is a quick band aide fix which in the long run adds to your problems (after all it's the cocoa butter in the chocolate which is causing you the problems in the first place.  It doesn't really make sense to pour more gasoline on to that fire!).    Understanding how the cocoa butter crystals behave, is the KEY to tempering and working with chocolate. 


One other thing:  When reheating your chocolate, take it off the heat source when it's a couple of degrees below your target (especially for small batches done in a baine marie).  The heat of the pot will carry the temperature up, sometimes as much as 4 degrees, hence if you take the chocolate off your heat source AT your target temperature, within moments it will again be out of temper and you have to start over.


Hope that helps.





Thank you for your detailed answer. This is what is so great about Chocolate Life, you get all this info with all people's responses and even if you do not all agree, it always broadens my understanding of chocolate.
Thought I will just thank you Brad. My thermometer WAS wrong, I was idiot enough not to realize the battery is flat as it still measured, but obviously wrong. After replacing the battery I did the test as you recommended and it is spot on. So, you can see now how stupid I can be. Old age taking its toll LOL.

Glad I could help, and no you're not being stupid.  One would logically think that if the thermometer works, it's taking the right temperatures.  I've also learned something from this exchange:  Even though the thermometer works, a low battery can screw with the temperature readings.

So, for that I thank YOU!




Can your chocolate be too shiny? I am asking this because I have tempered some chocolate to use in my molds. At the correct temperature, 29C for milk chocolate it became really shiny. When I molded with it I had chocolate bloom within minutes and I had to really tap it to get it to release from the mold after I have left it overnight.

Maybe when I molded it I tapped the molds too much to get rid of air bubbles? I just do not know. I am having two threads now that should probably have been one.

The shinier the better.  Always do the lip test as a second check and also do the paper test.  Check the temp with your lip as explained earlier. Even with your broken thermometer you could have succesfully performed the lip test for tempering.  Test to see if the chocolate is tempered by putting a swipe on some wax or parchment paper and see if the chocolate sets up within a few minutes.  Then make sure the chocolate doesn't appear streaky.  Your description of what happened indicates to me that the tempering was incorrect. The temperature was slightly on the high side, but probably not by much.



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