Tempering Chocolate

Like all good chocolates Plamil chocolate need tempering 

In essence there are no differences with tempering vegan chocolate and any good chocolate. The same principles apply. We have a long experience of tempering as Plamil chocolates are currently used in a wide variety of existing applications. 

Find out here about the (1) general principles for professionals and (2) how to simply temper chocolate in a kitchen with basic equipment. 

 

Tempering chocolate - a general guide for professionals 

 

Tempering chocolate is the method of naturally changing the fat crystal structure of the cocoa butter using a temperature process. 

To do this changing the temperature in a specific way naturally changes the fat structure, providing a good surface shine, smooth appearance, and taste. It provides the ‘snap’ of a chocolate bar when breaking. 

Providing other ingredients in chocolate allow, cocoa can be tempered, retempered as many times as needed. 

De-tempering is the process of heating the chocolate which allows the crystal structure to change to a more ‘natural’ state. De-tempering can occur either deliberately or if the chocolate is exposed to unintentional heat source. 

De-tempered chocolate will also ‘spread’, so for instance if one end of a chocolate bar gets overheated, ‘losing’ that part of the bars temper the crystal structure will gradually change in the whole bar.   

Typical signs of de-temper or ‘loss of temper’ is lighter brown speckled surface, grainy texture, and or whiteness. Chocolate that has ‘lost its temper’ whilst not as pleasurable can still be eaten safely and can be retempered.   

As a very general initial oversight of the tempering process, first heat the chocolate, gradually cool, and then slightly reheat. 

There are various methods of undertaking this process in a domestic kitchen, small manufacturing plant or on an industrial scale. 

Typically, these temperatures are 40-45C, cooling to 28C and reheating to 32C.

However, the focus of tempering in any setting, be it domestic kitchen or industrial process should be the outcome of the process. 

It is often asked what the ideal temperatures of tempering for any given chocolate are, which seems to be a valid question as we all like to work to specific parameters to get the best results. 

Unfortunately, it is not an uncommon error with an inexperienced chief or production manager to focus on specific temperatures, whilst not understanding fundamentally how any process machine or controls of the process are operating.  

Within a domestic kitchen an experienced chief or chocolatier will be able to see (and if hand working) feel the changes going on with the chocolate, simply by watching and feeling the changes. 

Within a small process plant or larger manufacturing facility, the temperatures can be electronically controlled and monitored, and the chocolate is stirred or moved about mechanically.  

Machines have temperature readouts and operators can assume that the temperature on the readouts are the temperature within any process. 

Whilst a readout is a good guide, a detailed understanding of how any machine works is advisable. 

There are basically two main machine tempering methods, either batch tempering or continuous. Some batch tempering will display 2 or 3 stage temper settings. Batch tempering may involve using potable or process cooling water, and continuous tempering can have a variety of heat or cooling control methods.  

A not too uncommon error it to assume that the machine readout says for example 32C so the chocolate must be that temperature. Unfortunately, this is not always true, for either the whole chocolate in the unit or at that moment in time. 

Every operator should have a basic knowledge of ‘how’ their tempering machine works, the controls and limitations of accuracy of those controls. (Controls and sensors all work to a % accuracy) 

When measuring a temperature, any machine will be using sensors to collect data and display it. Knowledge of were that sensor or sensors are in the machine and how that data is processed, how effective the agitation, stirring or movement of chocolate is an advantage. 

The possible use of ‘seeding chocolate’ complicates matters even more, is not fundamentally required in most operations, and we consider may usually be undertaken by more experienced chocolatiers or processors for specific reasons, and if used a reasonable knowledge of tempering is already present.  

The heating cycle of most tempering machines will be supplied electrically at some point, either directly or indirectly, usually using water as a transfer medium. This can be in the main mass of the chocolate or internal pipework.  

Knowing exactly where the heating element are, where the temperature sensor is internally in any unit is helpful. Most heating elements are only ‘on’ or ‘off’ and sensors will tell any unit readout when the temperature has been reached. If the temperature sensor, movement of the chocolate is not considered, even the parameters of sensitivity of the sensors, chocolate in a heating cycle may get to a higher temperature at some points before the machine can sense this.  

Typically, therefore we would recommend a temperature setting of 40C on initial heating as it is likely the temperature exceeds this somewhat). Likewise cooling of the chocolate in the cooling cycle can be equally affected, but in addition be affected by the temperature of the cooling water itself, rate of flow or efficiency of any cooling compressor system.  

These variables and the way they operate, the efficiencies and even seasonal changes can introduce variables to any chocolate tempering cycle, influencing any specific temperature settings of any unit.  

It could be that two seemingly identical machine tempering units operate and give slightly different outcomes.  

Likewise using the same temperature settings in different machines may have completely different outcomes.  

It should also be considered that maintenance of a unit it vital, as changes to the efficiencies of the heating and cooling cycles will change over time. Maintenance of any unit may affect temperature settings. 

Of course, the process itself, the heat transfer and cooling of the chocolate will be affected by the chocolate itself, its viscosity, fluidity will affect its motion and ability to transfer temperature through itself. Hence two chocolates with different fluidity may need slightly different approach.  

At the end of any process, after tempering has occurred the setting of the chocolate will be an important factor. The size, shape, total mass of the item will affect outcome, as will temperature controls, air movement, humidity etc can all effect the successful outcome of making the desired chocolate finish on any product. 

So, in answering the question ‘what temperatures should I use? To either an amateur undertaking their first hand tempering, to process managers in industrial plants, it is recommend that the question should not be what temperatures should be used, but by trial and seeing outcomes, what temperature setting are currently being used already, how long in each cycle is being used, and to use those as a benchmark to change settings, slightly up or down, longer or shorter in time and re assessing the outcome.  

Do not forget it would be rare, unless using a highly sophisticated tempering unit with highly controlled services and maintenance the temperature settings may change over time, or for other reasons require small changes.  

Using settings you used yesterday, may not always mean the same result today. 

Experience and operator knowledge is very useful. For the amateur, enjoyment of hand tempering will always remain, for the professional in a commercial environment the awareness of all factors will enable the successful process.  

Again to both, we recommend a focus on outcome. 

Having said all that, generally, heat chocolate to 40-45C. Do this gently and slowly.  

Reduce the temperature of the chocolate, over a period, gently to about 27-28C. Slightly re heat to 30-32C.

[NB do not overheat any chocolate containing rice. Whilst tempering chocolate can generally be undertaken several times if you don’t get it right first time, if the rice ingredient is heated much over 40C + will activate a one-way process of making the chocolate thick or created small lumping.]    

With decades of experience, we are happy to help and advice professionals on tempering, contact-us@plamilfoods.co.uk.  

Simple tempering in a kitchen

To produce chocolate with a great shiny look and a ‘snap’ of the professional tempering equipment is useful, but if you want to temper chocolate in a kitchen it is possible with a little practice, no thermometer and you can get that professional chocolate finish.  

As discussed in the guide for professionals’ chocolate needs to melt thoroughly, cooled, and then reheated.  

All you need are two saucepans part filled with water, a round bottomed plastic bowl and of course some Plamil chocolate.  The plastic bowl does not conduct heat well and so it is ideal for raising and dropping the temperature of the chocolate slowly which is important. Remember in this process not to splash any water into the chocolate. 

  1. Heat the water in one of the saucepans to hand warm/hot.   
  2. Put the chocolate in the plastic bowl over the hot water and stir the chocolate until it is fully melted and runny. It’s a good idea to use a plastic spatula that that can scrape the sides of the bowl quite well. 
  3. Move the bowl to the other saucepan with cold water in it.  Keep stirring, ensuring the chocolate on the sides is always scrapped away into the middle all the time. This ensures good and even heat distribution through all the chocolate.  The chocolate will start to become more difficult to stir as the temperature drops. This may take a few minutes but when this happens it will be become evenly thicker and slightly stiffer to stir. Do not let it go hard or get lumps.   
  4. Return the bowl with the thick chocolate in it to the first saucepan and heat it only until the stiffness has gone a little.  The chocolate is then ready to use.  
  5. Set the chocolate in a cool place. (Be careful that dampness does not get onto the surface of chocolate when you take out from the fridge –like condensation on a water glass – as this may affect the final shine) 

The whole process could take about 15 minutes for 1-200g. Final cooling a little longer. If your chocolate does not seem right, don’t worry.  You will be able to repeat the whole process with the same chocolate until you get it right. 

Once you have perfected your process you can pour into moulds, coat bars, thin into leaves or even coat fruit!  

[Reminder do not overheat chocolate at the start with rice ingredient, as this will trigger a one way thickening that you will not be able to reverse!] 

   

Fluidity and Tempering Chart

Vegan Chocolat Fluidity and Tempering Guide.
A guide for typical users.
Chocolate type: Ease of home tempering Fluidity
1 = limited experience 1 = least fluid
5 = experience helpful 5 = most fluid
53% Bake Stable Chocolate. Chips 2 1
53% Bake stable Chocolate. Micro drops 2 1
60% Cocoa Chocolate. Micro drops 1 3
72% Cocoa Chocolate Micro drops 1 3
Coconut Blossom Chocolate Micro drops 3 3
Rice M!lk - Milk Chocolate Alternative. Chips 4- do not heat over 40C 3
Rice M!lk - Milk Chocolate Alternative. Micro drops 4- do not heat over 40C 3
Rice M!lk - Milk Chocolate Alternative (Reduced Sugar) Micro drops 4- do not heat over 40C 3
Oat M!lk - Milk chocolate alternative. Micro drops 3 3
Oat M!lk - Milk chocolate alternative. Melting buttons 3 3
Vegan White with Rice M!lk. Chips 4 5
Vegan Blonde Chocolate Alternative Oat M!lk. Micro drops 3 3
Vegan Blonde Chocolate Alternative Oat M!lk. Chips 3 3
No Added Sugar 72% Cocoa Chocolate. Chips 2 3.5
No Added Sugar 72% Cocoa Chocolate. Micro drops 2 3.5
No Added Sugar Oat M!lk. Milk Chocolate Alternative. Microdrops 2 3
No Added Sugar Bake Stable 71% Cocoa Chocolate. Micro drops 3 1