What is tempered chocolate?
Ever wondered, what makes chocolate snap when broken? It is the process of tempering which makes this happen. Tempering is also responsible for giving chocolate its uniform sheen and crisp bite. If not tempered, the chocolate is said to ‘bloom’ i.e it will develop white patches and will crumble instead of snapping when broken.
Chocolates are primarily made of cocoa solids, cocoa butter and sugar. The process of making chocolate involves multiple stages. The cocoa beans obtained from the tree are fermented to develop their flavor and then processed to obtain cocoa solids and cocoa butter. Different types of chocolates like dark chocolate and milk chocolate are produced by varying the proportion of cocoa solids and cocoa butter. The blended chocolate goes through the process of Conching wherein the uneven textured chocolate is subjected to grinding which gives it a silky smooth texture.
The chocolate then needs to be tempered in order to give it that shine and crisp bite. In simple words the temperature of the chocolate is regulated to produce small and uniform crystals of cocoa butter. Fats present in the cocoa butter form various types of crystals which are of different sizes. These crystals have different melting points.
Tempering aims to retain the best form of crystals while eliminating others by regulating the temperature of the chocolate. In this process, the chocolate is first heated. When the temperature of the chocolate is increased the crystals move apart and the chocolate starts melting. The melted chocolate is then cooled. The process results in the formation of many small crystal ‘seeds’ which act as nuclei around which other crystals crystallize. Thus by regulating the temperature the most stable form of crystals is obtained.
‘Seeding’ is one of the commonly used methods used for tempering. In this method, a small amount pre-tempered chocolate, the ‘seed’ is added to chocolate to speed up the crystallization process.