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Hello Everyone,

I have been tempering chocolate for truffles and bars with pretty decent success for about two years now. Recently, however, I have found a new source for chocolate and I am having a terrible time achieving a successful temper with it. The chocolate comes untempered straight from a cacao farm here in Costa Rica in a huge untempered 20 kilo chunk. It is organic, local and delicious which is why I am so intent on working with it.

So...I cut it up into uniform pieces, melt away with my double boiler, cool it down with some seed tempered chocolate and pour or dip. (The same method that has always worked fine with any other chocolate I have used.) It sets with a nice dark sheen on the outside, but on the inside it is a white-ish crumbly texture and tastes totally grainy. Unless! I keep it in the fridge until serving which in that case it tastes and looks totally fine. How do I temper this untempered stuff, and how do I store it at room temperature?? I would appreciate your advice so very much!


(Let me also mention that at the moment I cannot afford or access a tempering machine and it is EXTREMELY humid where I live.)

Thank you chocolate geniuses!!

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If it is setting up partially tempered, that could be the result of insufficient agitation or being left to set in too warm an environment (part cools quickly enough and sets, while the other part sets too slowly allowing the formation of undesirable crystals to form).

What is the cocoa content, the fat content, and does it contain lecithin?

Also, what are you using as seed? A different chocolate?
Hi Robert,
Thanks for your reply. So far, what I know about the chocolate is that it is 70% cocoa and that it is sweetened with cane sugar from Panama. I will call and inquire about the total fat vs total cocoa breakdown.

And I have used both the same chocolate and a different chocolate as seed. I can't say conclusively if I have noticed a difference. I will test it.

I have read that in hot climates you should put the poured chocolate in the fridge for a short amount of time to prevent it from setting up partially tempered. Ideas?

Again, thanks for the advice.
If you used the same chocolate as a seed... was the seed tempered I thought you didn't have any of that chocolate tempered?

As I said before, it sounds like your temper is good, but the setting is too slow. Try testing by dipping an inch or so of the blade of a butter knife into the chocolate, taking care to bang the excess off (you want a thin coating and thus the least amount of mass for less thermal inertia) and letting it set. If the temper is good and you are still getting crystallization in finished product, I'd bet money on setting in too warm an environment.

What are your working conditions like? Temperature and humidity? You say hot and wet, but I am curious how bad... because if your melted chocolate is taking in too much humidity (too much agitation while melted in a high humid environment) you might need a surfacant (lecithin or ++ cocoa butter) in order to ensure proper dispersement of the seed crystals. However, this is less likely in my mind from the problems you've described.

Transferring to the fridge once the chocolate just turns waxy might be a good option for you. You'll need to do some testing as to how long it should be fridged. I've been known to put molds in the fridge for 5-10 minutes before removing them and allowing to sit overnight (in a cool place ~17-20C) to fully crystallize. You don't want it to set in the fridge, just to not be soft.

In our shop, we work with untempered chocolate all of the time, and don't bother with seeding. Even though we have several pieces of equipment that temper our chocolate, I've trained my staff to temper dark chocolate by hand the following way, and it works every time:

1. Heat the chocolate over a double boiler to 120 degrees F. A deep 8 Litre bowl works best for this application.
2. While the chocolate is melting start a cold water bath in your sink. Use icecubes if you can't get the water cold.
3. When the chocolate has hit 120 and is COMPLETELY melted (no chunks), transfer the bowl to the cold water bath, and stir, stir, stir, always pulling the chocolate off the side of the bowl. DO NOT STOP STIRRING until the chocolate hits 79 degrees. At that point it will have begun to thicken, and will have started to adhere to the side of the bowl regardless of how much you have been pulling it off with your spatula. This should only take a couple of minutes. The cold water will cool even 6-8lbs of chocolate very quickly.
4. Transfer back to the double boiler and stir and heat until 90 degrees. Stir, Stir Stir.
5. Once all of the chocolate has melted and is fluid again, there you have it, perfectly tempered chocolate.

Try this and let me know how it works.

As an aside, I've noticed that very soft, high quality cocoa butter requires lower temperatures to temper. You may not be hitting the right "bottom" number, and as a result you're getting the wrong type of crystalization. Our chocolate when set before we temper it in our shop is grainy and crumbly just as you mentioned in your post.

Hope this helps.

A lot of food for thought in here for me. It is very likely that I am not hitting the bottom temperature. Hmmm... **Making ice**

Thanks for your reply, I will try this method.
Brad - looks like you got a lot out of my DVDs! Anyway - it's not totally necessary to stir constantly while it's cooling as long as the water bath you are using is not too cold. If there is a lot of ice in there, then you may find you get a lot of hardening around the bowl and stirring more frequently is wise.
What and where are your dvd's?

This method works a treat! Thanks.

Does that method work with milk and white (obviously changing the temperatures accordingly)?


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