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I just tried tempering for the first time, I followed a book but it doesn't explain to what degree chocolate comes out of temper nor how to get it back into temper. I assume trying to keep Milk chocolate at around 30 degrees? would that be safe? I did three different flavored ganache all with the same coating and got all different results. One was perfect ( pure fluke ) and the other two...well not bad I guess.

I did milk chocolate, am I right to have tempered it from 27 degree up to 30 several times? what temperature does it come out of temper? Any help would be appreciated.

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Dirk,
The answer to your question is more than just giving one specific temp. Most chocolate manufactures list a recommended tempering curve on the box which can vary by several degrees. Also, your room temp and speed of cooling can affect the temper of the chocolate....it could have been in temper when you enrobed your piece and a warm room and too slow a cooling took it out of temper. Milk chocolate with its various solids can be more difficult than dark. Sounds like you would benefit greatly from some hands- on type of class or an environment like ecolechocolat.com where the therory is mixed with practical work and observation of the results. Many peoples first tempering results are like yours- not sure what went right or wrong. Maybe practice with dark at first to gain more confidence and most of all don't give up!
Funny you should mention Ecole Chocolat, I just registered for that yesterday, in the hopes of learning all the trick and tips. I appreciate your comments greatly. I much prefer working with Dark chocolate, in some way it is sexier? is that a good description for it? the milk chocolate I find dull, does it lose a little color when tempered? I found the finished milk chocolate was a little lighter than it was before. Is that normal?

I definitely won't give up as I'm just starting and would like to leave the high tec industy to do this instead one day. thanks for the inspiration!
As someone who enjoys chocolate, but is not an expert, and decided to start making my own with very mixed results I feel your pain. I can share what I have 'learned' in my attempts to temper dark chocolate. I have been eating Valrhona Quanaja every day for years. I recently lost my inexpensive source for finished product here in Hawaii and started buying the Le Feves by the 3 kg bag to make my own. I am also using Des Alphes 72% because Vahrhona is sometimes difficult to buy here.

As Ms. Boudar says, each manufacturer gives their recommended temperatures for tempering and working their product. I have found this info on the package or online. I read a couple books and was very careful in what I thought was the correct technique for tempering. Living in Hawaii, even in air conditioned comfort, may contribute to my past issues of sugar and/or fat blooming. I had very limited success going with the books. I'm sure it was my shortcomings and not the books.

Here's what I do now that works for me. I put the chocolate I'm heating in a glass bowl. I put another quantity of chocolate which weighs approximately 1/4 of the quantity in the bowl on the side....chopped. I put the bowl in the micro.....this was actually recommended by someone on this site and I poopooed it until I tried it......and begin heating it somewhat slowly. I zap it for 30 seconds, stir a little, zap it again stir it and measure the temperature, zap it again, etc. It usually takes 4 or 5 zaps to get it at the right temperature as recommended by the manufacturer. Working with a micro you have to be a little careful as the temperature will keep rising if you're not careful because the bowl gets too hot. I find Pyrex works best for the bowl. I keep a sheet of ice pack close if I want to stop the temperature peak in an emergency. When the temperature is correct .......I find that it's ok to go over the temperature 2 or 3 degrees.....I throw in the chopped chocolate and stir a little. I let it sit as the chopped chocolate melts into the heated chocolate.....it takes quite awhile for the chocolate to cool to working temperature. I stir a little more. Don't over stir. I used to stir constantly, but I think over stirring disturbs the little crystals that are trying to form. Keep measuring the temperature until it comes down to the working temperature as listed by the manufacturer.... I find working with the chocolate at a temperature a couple degrees higher than recommended is ok. Do whatever you want to do with the chocolate. Then, I put it in the refrigerator on a cookie sheet. Yeah, I know.....the refrigerator??.....but here in Hawaii even in air conditioning I get sugar bloom if I leave it out to cool. I think it's a combination of humidity and temperature.

I make chocolate covered mac nuts and plain chocolate pieces this way and it works every time. Go figure yeah? I hope this helps, at least until you can find a better way.

Aloha
Great information thanks. After reviewing the clearly marked information on the package that I missed (thank you Melanie), I was way off on the tempering temperature by about 15 degrees, that's what I get for reading a book instead of a package. So from what you are saying is that you heat up, and don't mix all the much until it gets to the tempered state? which is the enrobing temperature on the package? Starting to feel I need a degree in chemistry to understand how tempering works. Any idea how a Crystallization curve works? I see that on the package but don't really understand it? or do I really need to?

I'm curious, why does a certain temperature range for enrobing give you a the desired effect and not higher or lower?

I'm sure once I've done some training through ecole chocolat I'll understand it better but I sure seem to have a lot of questions. I'll just have to play some more...I will try the microwave approach as well. Thanks again
Dirke,
Invest in a laser thermometer. Its the best tool you can own. You can get one at a pastry chef supply or a hardware store, electricians use them. After you zap your chocolate in the mico you will be in the 40-45C range, don't go above 50C. The temp will drop as you seed but the agitation (stiriing) only becomes critical at 34C. Above that you can stir in some chocolate and walk away. Come back and check it, stirring occasionally. At 34 you want to seed very lightly so it will melt and you won;t have lumps and then keep pretty regular stirring. Dark chocolate will come into temper around 30-31degrees. Milk and WHitewill be lower- 28-29 as a rule but again depends on the chocolate brand.test on a sppon or piece of acetate, it should set up in less than 3 min-pretty simple and reliable really once you understand what you're shooting for. If the set up is streaky it needs more agitation, if grainy you didn't seed enough(but don't go overboard on seed either)

Rich Valhrona is EZ to get here in Hawaii if you need to know where just email me.
Excellent explanation Melanie - clear and concise. I ditto the purchase of a laser thermometer. I find I don't use it much for the critical tempering time - as Melanie explained - from 34 down - but what a great tool to know what your ballpark is. It's quick and not messy!

And I just have 1 more piece of advice - frustration is part of the learning curve. What now might seem elusive and messy and time consuming is something you won't even give a second thought to once you've done it time and time again.

Oh wait - one more thing. I find my oven (or more precisely, the oven light) is a very handy tool. If you put chocolate callets in a stainless steel bowl and place this bowl near the oven light (turned on of course!) and leave it there overnight - you will wake up to melted chocolate. I have 2 Mol d'Art melters but if I want to do a third type of chocolate - or use coloured cocoa butter - the oven is my tool. It's also great for keeping tools (spatula's, scrapers, squeeze bottles, airbrush etc.) from hardening with chocolate, as well as keeping chocolate in temper. You have to experiment with how far to keep your chocolate from the light in order to keep it in temper. I also keep molds in there so they are warmed when I need them. Be careful though - don't keep them too close to the light or they will get too hot. The light needs to be on for quite a while before it heats up the oven. Conversely, you can turn the oven on VERY BRIEFLY to get it heated up - seconds, not even a minute. You don't want your racks to get hot.

I have quite the little laboratory going on in my oven on some days!
I had some bar moulds in the oven, just warming slightly. After I'd poured the new batch of chocolate into the moulds and cycled them all twice I popped the bars out of the moulds and went up to check the e-mails etc. Later I decided it was time to cook tea and put the oven on to heat up. The good news is that polycarb moulds release fairly easily from stainless oven racks the bad news is I had to buy another mould. Still kicking myself but at least no chocolate was wasted!
Oh dear! I was lucky enough to discover caramelized white chocolate in a similar way. Now I tape pieces of paper to the oven dials when it's being used for chocolate purposes. No more mistakes!
A laser thermometer you say? I am always interested in cool gadgets and toys, a laser ooh that sounds like a must have. I will search one out, thanks.
I love my infrared laser thermometers too. Never have a dirty thermometer again - unless you accidently drop it in the chocolate! It happens!

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