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Tempering Chocolate: Tips from Paul .A. Young


Award-winning master chocolatier and chocolate guru, Paul .A. Young, has kindly shared with us his top tips to mastering the art of chocolate tempering and a few different methods that you can try at home.

portrait of Paul A. Young

What Does Tempering Mean?

Tempering chocolate is an important technique to ensure that your finished chocolate has a satin, glossy shine and a good ‘snap.’ There are two methods for this; seeding or marble slab.

Seeding Tempering

I recommend that you try this method first as it requires no special equipment at all and it’s also very clean, no pouring chocolate onto your kitchen counter. Once you have mastered this technique there will be no stopping your creative urges to produce amazing chocolate bars, truffles and other yummy goodies.

For this method you will require the following equipment:

Glass or stainless steel mixing bowl

Rubber spatula

Sauce pan

• Place two thirds of your required amount of chocolate into a mixing bowl.

• Fill the pan with water until just below the bottom of the bowl when sat on top of the saucepan.

• Place on a medium heat and allow the water to become hot but do not allow to boil as this can burn the chocolate and it will become grainy and ruined. So take care.

• Allow the chocolate to melt for at least one hour. The temperature of the chocolate should be at 55°C. Once fully melted, remove the bowl from the sauce pan and place on a towel or cloth.

• Now while mixing vigorously, add the remaining one third of chocolate in small pieces. Keep mixing until fully melted and until the chocolate cools to 27-28°C, this is when the chocolate begins to crystallise.

• At this point place the bowl back onto the heat until the temperature reached 31-32°C, this is the working temperature and the chocolate is now ready to use.

• Dip the end of a knife or spatula in to the chocolate and allow to set. If the chocolate is smooth, glossy and brittle when set then you have mastered seeding tempering.

Marble Slab Tempering

For this method you will require the following equipment:

Marble slab
Mixing bowl
Sauce pan
Rubber spatula
Palette knife
Triangle scraper
Digital thermometer (optional)

• Over a bain marie melt at least 1kg of chocolate to a maximum temperature of 55°C. Do not let the water boil or simmer but keep hot and allow the chocolate to melt for at least two hours. This will ensure that all the fats, sugars and crystals have melted evenly.

• Pour two thirds of the chocolate onto the marble slab. Spread evenly over the slab with the palette knife and scrape back together with the triangle scraper. Repeat this action until the chocolate cools to 27-28°C which is when the chocolate begins to crystallise and harden.

• You can check this temperature by using a digital thermometer or by touching some chocolate with a separate palette knife on to your bottom lip. The chocolate should feel neither cold nor warm but at body temperature. Practice is the best policy here and soon you will be able to determine the right temperature. (This is Paul’s preferred method.)

• Now scrape the cool chocolate in to the warm chocolate at 55°C and mix very well until fully incorporated. Be vigorous and confident working smoothly at this stage.

• Mixing is very important and lots of it to bring the temperature even throughout the chocolate. The temperature should now be 31-32°C; this is called the working temperature.

• To check if the chocolate is tempered, dip the end of your palette knife into the chocolate and place aside to set. If the chocolate sets with a shine and is crisp then you have tempered your chocolate perfectly.

• If the chocolate is streaky, grainy or dull then there are a few ways to determine what has happened. The temperature of the chocolate may still be too high and you may need to re-temper on the marble slab briefly.

• You may need to continue mixing to emulsify the chocolate together or you may have not melted your chocolate sufficiently at the beginning.

• Once you have your bowl of tempered chocolate it is ready to use but you must maintain the working temperature by warming briefly on the bain marie.

Tempering with Different Types of Chocolate

You will need to adapt your tempering temperatures depending on the type of chocolate that you are using.

The guide below will help you adapt your tempering method to suit different chocolate types:

Tempering chocolate temperature guide

Want to see Paul in action? You can see his handy How to Temper Chocolate video.

If you have a taste for chocolate, why not try one of our Paul .A. Young recipes or alternatively visit one of Paul’s shops in London for an indulgent chocolate fix.