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Tempering Chocolate - Soft chocolate due to too fast tempering?


hope you guys can help me, struggling very hard with getting a chocolate that snaps and does not melt in my hands - read tons of blogs, watched youtube videos, fairly understand the chemistry behind and still dont get satisfying results.

I use Belcolade milk couverture and a bain-marie setup to melt 80% of my chocolate with constant stirring. As I usually just do 1/2 slabs or a bit bark chocolate its usually around 200g. Once liquid I add the rest, continue stirring and use a thermometer to check the temperature. It usually goes down to 34/36c so that the added chocolate is completely melted. After that I wait and stir rather than adding more chocolate. Once its at 30c I pour it directly in my mold and add other ingredients. After that I put it in the fridge for 10 minutes so I can get it out the mold to check if it worked this time.

As I only have the bain-marie setup, its nearly impossible for me to keep the temperature stable at 30. Would that be required to not just have some beta crystals but the majority formed in the "right structure"? If so, what is your tip? Should I rather use the micro-wave? Am I cooling to long/cold?

Thanks a lot, feeling a bit depressed after 4 times of trying.




Tags: tempered, tempering

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Milk chocolate is going to be softer than dark chocolate and will have less of a snap. Does your tempered chocolate bloom?

In addition to what Ben said, what is the ambient air temperature? It seems that you are rushing the process a bit and your chocolate is probably not fully set up when you are checking it.

Personally, I use a microwave for tempering. It is quick and easy once you have he hang of your particular microwave and it's settings.

The other thing I do differently is that I cool the (dark) chocolate down to about 79F and then rewarm in the microwave until it gets to 88-89F before I start working with it. I haven't had much success with melting it out, seeding and then cooling to working temperature. This may be something you want to try since you are tempering by hand.

Another benefit of using the microwave as opposed to a Bain-Marie is that you eliminate the water and the possibility of having the chocolate seize. Of course make sure you don't overheat and scorch the chocolate in the microwave. Decrease the power and use short bursts of time until you know your microwave.

Learning to temper consistently takes time so don't be too hard on yourself. Unless you are in a controlled environment you will learn that your results depend on the ambient temperature and the humidity levels. You will get the hang of it.


I am wondering what method you use to cool the chocolate down to 79F? 

How long does it take?

I always have the problem of not getting the chocolate cooled down quickly.



A lot of times I'll pop the bowl (which is plastic) in the freezer for a few minutes. Sometimes if it is a cooler day and I am busy it can cool on the counter giving it a stir every so often. Cooling time depends on the amount of chocolate I am tempering. If I am using the freezer, I can cool 3 pounds in about 8-10 minutes and it gives me time to get molds ready or do something else. I pull it from the freezer, stir and check the temp then put it back in for another few minutes. From there once it is at 79 I'll do short low power bursts in the microwave to bring it back to working temp. Luckily I haven't had any issues with condensation using the freezer. Not sure why that is...

Thanks, Andrea.

I mostly use a Bain-Marie and seed.  It is usually successful but some times I end up with some unmelted bits and have to pull out the emersion blender to fix that.

Thanks for the replies, guys!

Hi Ben,

no, my chocolate does not bloom like chocolate left in a car. Understand that milk is softer but right now it melts in my hands - unlike the unmelted couverture.

Hey Andrea,

air temperature is 25.7c/78.3F - South African kitchen, ha. 

Interesting that you were also not super successful with seeding which is always explained as the super easy method.

I will try using the microwave but eventually .. there should be a way of using bain-marie. 

Eventually, can anyone tell me from their practical experience:

a) How long do you keep the chocolate at working temperature before actually starting to work with it - which will cool it down eventually further, leading to other crystal formations than beta.

b) How do you keep it at working temperature? Or you dont?

c) What would you suggest as the best way to produce chocolate with satisfying results on a larger scale without buying an automated tempering machine/spending for USD 5,6,7k. The South African rand is just shit.

Thanks for all further suggestions/tips/attempts to help! Greatly appreciate it!

Just to clarify, I do seed my chocolate. I just cool below working temp and the rewarm to working temperature.

Unfortunately, I think your ambient air temp is part of your issue. I find tempering a challenge above 72F! It can be done but is much more finicky.

Since I temper by hand, I work with my chocolate as soon as it is at the appropriate temp. It cools quickly (maybe a bit slower for you!). Of course once it cools you can rewarm gently back to working temp to remove those crystals you don't want. You need to make sure you stir often (the 3 main factors of tempering are time, temp and agitation).

You can rewarm over your Bain-Marie to bring it back to working temp or do it in the microwave. I've also seen it done with a heat gun but you have to be careful with that to not scorch the chocolate.

Good luck.

Hi Lars,

Definitely lot's of good advice here. I feel a bit hesitant about posting, as I'm still learning myself: so ymmv ;-)

I'm using both au bain-marie (seeding) and microwave succesfully.

I only use the microwave when I need a small amount of chocolate e.g. for decorating (around 50grams). With such a small amount, what I found is that it really comes down to seconds. Obviously the time should be much less critical with larger amounts.  I heat in steps: 30seconds, stir, 20 seconds, stir, 20 seconds, stir, 10 seconds, stir. At the end I still have quite a lot of drops solid. Don't heat more, but first stir and see what happens. It can take a while, but finally the last drops melt, and it gives me chocolate that sets very quickly (room temperature here is 22degC). If it takes too long for the last drops to melt, I only give it a few seconds more. A few seconds too long and the chocolate takes much longer to set.

For anything above a few hundred grams I use au bain-marie. For me it works well: good snap and shine, but it takes me a lot of time: stirring, checking, heating etc. Rushing it didn't work for me.

I start out with about 75% in a metal container and 25% seed.

I don't use much heat, just simmer under the water. It takes a bit longer time to melt, but less risk of overheating I think.

With the digital thermometer I see a lot of fluctuation, because of the uneven heat distribution: I think stirring is very important to get a valid temperature reading and avoid 'hot spots'. When I see temperatures above 45degC I take it of the hot water and stir thorougly to distribute the temperature. Repeat until everything is 45degC. If I understand correctly you have to take it up to 45degC to melt all the 'bad' crystals, just making it liquid might not be enough?

Then I add about half of the seed, stir and see what happens to the temperature. If it's still hot I add more seed, if it's approaching working temperature I add less. If the temperature drops too low or it takes too long, I pop it back on the water to heat it very shortly. I use the same method as Andrea to keep it at working temperature, if it cools down one or two degrees, I heat it up gently au bain-marie. If the chocolate becomes too thick (overcrystallised) even at working temperature I take the heat gun and melt it down a bit.

Also important is preheating the moulds (maybe not necessary in SA), if I don't preheat I get more sticking and less shine. Don't overheat the mould though, just take the chill off, it should still be colder than the chocolate.

After pouring the chocolate, I mostly put it in the fridge straight away (8degC). It usually sets very quickly, but wait to take it out until you can see it shrink back from the mould (properly tempered chocolate should release by itself). Sometimes I leave it overnight, I don't see any problems.

After taking it out of the fridge, let it come to room temperature before unmoulding (condensation).

First thing on my list to buy is a Mol d'Art table top melter (€350). That should make it much easier to melt the the chocolate and keep it at working temperature. (They're also very nice people to deal with, very quick response to a few questions I had)

I don't like the seeding method because I almost always end up with bits of unmelted chocolate, and I rarely got a good temper. If you table, you have more control, and after doing it for a while you'll always get a good temper. This only works for a smaller amount though, if your doing large amounts then there's only so much you can table.

I keep it at the working temperature for about 5 minuets, and gently stir it to form the right crystals.

Then check the temper with a spoon. At this point your working temperature won't drop too much because your bowl has a fair bit of chocolate in it  

You can check the 'working temperature' while dipping, and keep a hot water bath nearby. You should only need to add heat for a few seconds. After you've worked with your chocolate a few times you should be able to know by the viscosity if you need to add some heat, that way you don't need to keep checking the temperature. So I just have the hot water (bain marie) nearby for a quick blast to keep it at the right viscosity and it tempers perfect this way.

PS: I would suggest that you always check your temper with spoon, spatula, knife or whatever, this way you will definitely know if its right...sometimes you need to wait a bit longer for the crystals to form and need to stir more, then check the temper again  

You are only using 20% seed. I have always used 33%. Don't know if that would make the difference, but you could try. Also, always test before you mold:).

I'm looking at your working temperature - you say you seed down to 34 to 36 and that your seed is melted out at that temperature.  There needs to be seed around when you get to the working temperature - which is below 32.5 for milk chocolate.  So adding more seed would likely get you there as Ruth has suggested.  

Ah, I missed that about the 34-36degC...

Good point Kerry: seems I get the best temper when it takes some work to get the last bits to melt away.


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