What high-low temperatures are you reaching? Also, 89 seems a little low for a working temp for dark chocolate. Try 91-92.
First thing to do is make sure your thermometer is reading correctly. You'll need to test that. Assuming the range of your thermometer is large enough you can test it in boiling water (unless it is an IR thermometer). Then you should check your upper and lower temperatures you are working at with your chocolate. I personally don't have a concern about you starting to work with your chocolate at 89 degrees. I actually start at this temperature when I am molding and increase the temperature slightly from there as the chocolate thickens up some.
All of that said, there are lots of things you might be doing that lead to your chocolate not tempering correctly. Generally speaking time, temperature and agitation are the factors in tempering. As a beginner it will take a lot of practice before you get it right and feel comfortable with it. When I started, I quickly figured out that before I was ready to mold or dip or whatever you plan to do I needed to get tempering down and then practice it a bunch of times before I even moved on to actually doing something with the chocolate. Keep practicing and you will figure it out.
I am with you Maggie! I have been trying to temper dark chocolate as well and am having all kinds of problems. I bring my chocolate up to 115 then I add 25% seed chocolate and bring it down to 90 to work with it. I am wondering if leaving it out to harden on the counter is causing the problem. I have read that 55-60 is the best temp. to let it harden at. If I refrigerate it to harden it looks great. What is the best method on bringing it back to room temperature as I know humidity will be an issue as well?
You should put a request in to Clay, the owner of this site, to post a document on tempering chocolate, and make it available right on the home page.
You aren't even close with your temperatures.
Every chocolate is a little different so do a little research into what your chocolate really wants in temperature. Off the top of my head I know our 55% we hit 112 for melt, then down to 87 with seed, then working temps are about 90 and we notch up to about 92 as the day moves on (to prevent or keep at bay over temper.)
Know what temps you need to be at, know how long you need to be there, run tests.
One of the best learning experiences we'll do with a new chocolate is to take a little swipe of chocolate on parchment paper every few minutes while the chocolate is on its way down from 90' monitoring the degree and time and you'll see how each sample is different. No temper, no temper, some temper, more temper, temper, temper, temper.. Then next time you work your chocolate you can fine tune.
Keep trying, you'll figure it out. Just remember to be watchful, research, record, and repeat.
Thank you for your reply. I am new to this and have been reading as much as possible but the temperatures vary for dark/semi-sweet chocolate from site to site so I have been trying to stay within the range I have been reading. I am using a Callebaut semi-sweet chocolate that is 65% as it is the ONLY allergy-free chocolate that I have been able to get my hands on. It is in mini-chip form and melts extremely quick. Any idea what temps. you would start experimenting with?
I posted a reply some time ago and saw some additional posts over the last few days. I have to say, I know there are a variety of ways people temper their chocolate, but I am a bit confused about your method. Are you tempering by hand (and not by machine)? If that is the case, then I think you would be better suited to a different method. It sounds like you melt your chocolate out, seed it and then simply cool it to 90 degrees to work with it. I think you should melt it out (maybe to 116-118), seed it (I don't follow a hand and fast rule of 25% - I usually add a handful of chips), cool it to about 79-80 and then rewarm to about 89-90 to work with it. I am using the same Callebaut as you and have had great success with this method.
I know there are people who melt their chocolate, seed it and then cool it to working temperature but they all seem to be using melters. I think achieving temper this way is much more tricky especially when trying to do it by hand.
Keep trying, and you will figure it out. Also, bear in mind your ambient air temperature and humidity levels will affect tempering. Your issues may be due to those differences especially if you had been successful before. I know it warmed up here in my location yesterday and I had trouble removing chocolates from molds when I had no issue last week and all of the molds were done at the same time.
Thanks Andrea! I did have better luck using your method of heating, dropping temp and reheating but it still had bloom, just not as bad. I tried this method to see if there would be a major difference and there definitely was. The chocolate tasted chalky and was light on the inside of the bar. As I said, I am new to this and am trying to figure it out by reading and experimenting. I do not currently have a machine (am looking into a few different ones) but I thought I should know how to temper by hand anyway. I figure it is important to know how to do it by hand as well just in case you get in a bind in the future. Thank you for the temperatures, I will give it another try tomorrow as it is about 40 degrees where I am, so it should be good working conditions tomorrow.
OK, if the temperature ranges are working better, then make sure you are stirring a lot. Your chocolate, as a mass, will not cool evenly. Stirring often helps create the type of crystals you want and the stirring will help prevent uneven temperatures throughout the mass (and bloom). When you reheat from your low temperature, make sure to do it slowly. If you go over your target working temperature you'll have to start over. I reheat in the microwave and 50% power in short bursts (6-10 seconds depending on the temperature). As your temperature drops, you can put your bowl back in the microwave and do a short burst again to bring it back into working range. I taught myself to temper and so I know you can figure it out as well.
BTW, I bought a small tempering machine thinking I'd use that once I had learned to temper by hand and I've sold it and temper everything by hand. If I was doing higher volume I might consider another machine, but until I would need something that might temper around 10 pounds at a time I'll just do it by hand. I found the bowls on the smaller tempering machines too small to work with.
Continued good luck!
Thanks Andrea for all the tips, it is greatly appreciated. Can I friend you in case I have any more questions? It is nice to talk to someone that is using the same chocolate as I am.
Yes and feel free to contact me. If you have a question, I'll get back to you as quickly as I can.