How To Temper Chocolate: Tempering Couverture & Ultra Couverture Chocolate
Please Note: These instructions for how to temper chocolate assume you are using Chocoley Couverture or Ultra Couverture Chocolate. These temperatures may not work properly for other brands of chocolate.
What You Need To Know Before You Begin
- In most applications, couverture and ultra couverture chocolate (any chocolate containing cocoa butter as an ingredient) must be tempered.
- Tempering involves slowly raising and lowering the temperature of melted chocolate while constantly stirring. This process causes the structure of the large cocoa-butter crystals in the chocolate to repeatedly break and then reform. When the chocolate is finally allowed to set again, the crystals of cocoa butter join in perfect chains, creating an extremely smooth, shiny chocolate that has a clean snap when broken.
- Use a thermometer .
- Make sure that bowls, thermometer, spatula, stone, etc. are 100% dry before touching your chocolate.
- Room temperature should be between 65-70° F & humidity level below 50%.
Tempering Temperatures when using Chocoley Couverture & Ultra Couverture Chocolates:
Dark – Heat to 120° F then cool to 82° F bring the temperature back up to 90° F
Milk – Heat to 115° F then cool to 80° F bring the temperature back up to 86° F
White – Heat to 110° F then cool to 78° F bring the temperature back up to 82° F
Working Temperatures when using Chocoley Couverture & Ultra Couverture Chocolates:
Dark – 88-90° F
Milk – 86-88° F
White – 82-84° F
STEP 1: Melt Chocolate
Most Desirable Method — Double Boiler:
- If you don’t own a double boiler, you can create your own by situating a pot, sauce pan, or stainless steel or glass bowl on top of a sauce pan or small pot. Or you can use our Double Boiler Insert.
- Heat water in bottom pan to 130-150° F (do not boil). Turn off heat.
- Place chocolate into top pot/pan/bowl/double boiler insert and set over the pan of water. Be sure that the pot or bowl fits tightly over the water so that no steam or water vapor escapes from the bottom pan/pot.
- Stir frequently with rubber spatula.
- Once the chocolate is completely melted, use a chocolate thermometer to measure the temperature. Heat to: 115°F (Milk Chocolate) 120°F (Dark Chocolate) 110°F (White Chocolate)
Less Desirable Method — Microwave (based on a 600 watt microwave):
- Place one pound of chocolate in a microwave safe container.
- Microwave for one minute at 50% power.
- Stir with rubber spatula.
- Return to microwave for 15 to 30 second intervals until ¾ melted (stir with rubber spatula in between every interval).
- Stir with spatula until fully melted.
STEP 2: Double check the temperature of the chocolate:
110°F (White Chocolate) 115°F (Milk Chocolate) 120°F (Dark Chocolate)
STEP 3: Pour 2/3 on tempering stone surface.
Keep the other 1/3 at about 100° F; do not let it harden.
STEP 4: Using a pastry or bench scraper and offset spatula, spread the chocolate.
Then move it to the center, clean the scraper with the spatula and spread continuously. Continue this spreading and scraping process until the chocolate cools to: 82° F (dark), 80° F (milk), 78°F (white). The chocolate will lose its shine and form a thick paste with a dull matte finish. Work quickly so that the chocolate does not lump. This process can take anywhere from 2 to 10 minutes. The professional term for this is “mush.”
STEP 5: Add the “mush” to the remaining 1/3 melted chocolate.
Using a clean, dry rubber spatula, stir the chocolate gently, until smooth. Be careful not to create air bubbles as you do.
STEP 6: Return the mixture to heat.
Stirring constantly until the desired temperature is reached: 88-90° F (dark), 86-88° F (milk), 82-84° F (white)
STEP 7: Check temper using the “Knife Tip Method”:
- Insert the end of offset spatula or a small kitchen knife about ¾” into chocolate.
- Remove spatula/knife and lay on countertop for five minutes.
- Check look of chocolate after 5 minutes. If it has hardened and has a sheen, chocolate is “in temper.”
- If chocolate is not “in temper” repeat steps 1-6.
STEP 8: As you work with the chocolate, regularly stir the chocolate and check its temperature to keep it “in temper”.
STEP 9: After you’ve made whatever you are making, immediately put in refrigerator until set up (hardened). Only keep in refrigerator until set, and then promptly remove.
- TIP: If you have a heating pad, turn on and cover with a towel. Set your bowl of melted chocolate on top of the towel to keep your chocolate in its ideal melted state for longer.
- The temperature of your chocolate is very important. If the chocolate gets too hot the chocolate will become thick and will not run off the spoon. Proper consistency is important for easy working. The chocolate should pour off the spoon easy and not come off in a clump.
- For even more details about manually tempering chocolate than are provided on this page, please read our “Chocolate 101: About Tempering” page.
- If you don’t want to manually temper your couverture or ultra couverture chocolate, there are automated tempering machines available. Be sure to program your machine with the correct temperatures (use the ones provided on this page for Chocoley Couverture & Ultra Couverture Chocolates).