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Tempered Chocolate (For Use In Molding And Sculpting)

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MELTING CHOCOLATE: Chocolate melts best at temperatures between 104 and 113

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degrees F (40 degrees C and 45 degrees C). Never melt chocolate directly over a

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heat source. Use an indirect source like a hot water bath.

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TEMPERING CHOCOLATE: Tempering determines the final gloss, hardness, and

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contraction of the chocolate. When you melt chocolate, the molecules of fat

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separate. To put them back together, you temper it. There are a variety of ways

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to do it. One of the easiest ways is to place it in the microwave for 30 seconds

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at a time on high power until the chocolate is melted. Be very careful not to

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overheat it. The chocolate will not look as if it has melted because it retains

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its shape. It should be only slightly warmer than your bottom lip. You may still

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see lumps in it, but don't worry; the residual heat of the chocolate will melt

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them. You can also use an immersion blender to break the lumps and start the

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recrystallization process.

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Usually, the chocolate begins to set (recrystallize) along the side of the bowl.

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As it begins to crystallize, mix those crystals into the melted chocolate and

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they will begin recrystallization process. I like to use a glass bowl because it

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retains the heat and keeps the chocolate tempered for a long time.

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Another way to temper chocolate is called seeding. In this method, tempering is

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achieved by adding small pieces of unmelted chocolate to melted chocolate. The

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amount of unmelted chocolate to be added depends on the temperature of the

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melted chocolate but is usually one fourth of the total amount. I usually use an

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immersion blender to mix the two together.

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The classic way to temper chocolate is called tabliering. Chocolate is melted

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over hot water bath to a temperature between 88°F and 90°F (31°C and 32°C).

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(White and milk chocolate are melted to a temperature approximately 2°F less,

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depending on the amount of milk fat they contain.) Two thirds of the melted

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chocolate is poured on a cold table marble surface. The chocolate is spread out

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and worked with a spatula until the temperature of the chocolate is

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approximately 81°F (27°C). At this stage, it is thick and begins to set. This

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tempered chocolate is then added to the remaining one third of nontempered

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chocolate and mixed thoroughly until the mass in the bowl has a completely

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uniform temperature. If the temperature is still too high, part of the chocolate

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is further worked on the cold table until the correct temperature is reached.

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This is a lot of work, requires a lot of room, and makes a big mess.

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A simple method to check tempering is to apply a small quantity of chocolate to

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a piece of paper or to the point of a knife. If the chocolate has been tempered

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correctly, it will harden evenly and show a good gloss within 5 minutes.

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Storing Chocolate:

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Chocolate is susceptible to moisture and absorbs external odors. It is also

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important to protect it from light and air. Store it in a cool, dry place in

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closed packaging. The ideal temperature for storing chocolate is between 54

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degrees F and 68 degrees F, (12 C and 20C). Do not store chocolate in the

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refrigerator, where the humidity (moisture) will affect it.

Servings: 1

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