The Telltale Sign That Your Chocolate Has Lost Its Temper

Broken pieces of chocolate
Broken pieces of chocolate - Photo1819/Shutterstock

Melting chocolate isn't difficult. It just takes a bit of heat to convert a solid bar into a puddle. But if you've ever dipped strawberries into melted chocolate or made slabs of chocolate bark, you know it's not easy to recreate the shiny gloss and snappy texture that your bar had before melting. If your chocolate takes a long time to harden after melting, has a dull finish, and bends instead of breaking cleanly, it's a sign that the heat has caused the chocolate to lose its temper, and we don't mean it's mad at you!

Tempering in cooking generally means keeping something within a certain temperature point. For example, warm milk is added to eggs before cooking a custard to allow the egg to heat more gradually, aka "tempering." The idea is to control the heat to prevent an unwanted result. The fat in chocolate, cocoa butter, has some unique properties that make melting it quite unlike melting butter or other solid fats. The structure of cocoa butter's crystals changes at various temperatures, and those crystals impact the finished look of chocolate when it returns to room temperature. If chocolate gets a little too hot and isn't cooled properly, it won't be as attractive when hardened, potentially ruining your candy.

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Don't Lose Your Temper With Melted Chocolate

tempered chocolate truffles
tempered chocolate truffles - mathefoto/Shutterstock

Although many recipes for tempering chocolate involve a huge number of tricky steps and require thermometers and constant attention, there are some easier ways to get shiny chocolate candies at home. The easiest method just requires a box grater to reduce your chocolate bar to small flakes that are easy to melt at lower temperatures. Melting the chocolate under 95 degrees Fahrenheit keeps the cocoa butter crystals from changing too drastically. An important step in the process is reserving part of the grated chocolate to stir in when the rest is melted -– this provides more cocoa butter crystals in the right state to ensure a shiny finish when the chocolate sets up.

Of course, there are other tips to remember when melting chocolate. High heat can burn chocolate, and just a bit of water in your bowl of melting chocolate can turn the lovely liquid into a lumpy mess. A careful eye on the process will help you get the most out of your investment in good quality chocolate and make your end result as eye-catching as it is tasty.

Read the original article on Tasting Table