How (and Why) to Temper Chocolate

Get a glossy, snappy finish like the pros

Tempering is the art of heating and cooling cocoa butter to align its various fats and create chocolate that is shiny and smooth. If that sounds fussy and time-consuming, it is. But the results are worth it.

Some home cooks sidestep the process and simply add vegetable shortening or oil to melted chocolate to give it gloss. But this work-around is short-lived: The chocolate will inevitably turn gray and streaky, a phenomenon known as “blooming.” Yes, tempering requires patience and precision, but the payoff is that characteristic “snap” that store-bought chocolate makes when you break it into pieces—no crumbling here!

Start by heating two-thirds of your chocolate in a bowl set over a pan of simmering water until the chocolate reaches 115°F (it will look only half-melted at this point), then remove the bowl from the pan and stir in the remaining chocolate until the entire mixture cools to 80°F. Now, return the bowl to the pan and heat the chocolate again until it reaches 88°. Once it’s ready, you’ll want to pour the chocolate directly into molds, or dip and coat any treats, from extravagant truffles to simple buttered and toasted baguette slices with a little sea salt sprinkled on top.

Video: Perfect Chocolate Truffles »
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