Adventures in Chocolate – The Well-Tempered Chocolatier

When the chocolate is well-tempered and the person making it is too all is well in the kitchen. If either is off-temper it can result in the chocolatier ‘losing their temper‘.
Chocolate is far too valuable a commodity to be flung across the room in a fit of frustration but a chocolate in bloom brings lots of gloom.

Tempering* is a process by which the various crystals (fat and sugar) in chocolate are melted and cooled to prescribed temperatures. It results in a superior product that sets well, shines bright and snaps sharply. I always liken it to a vinaigrette salad dressing with lots of herbs.

When left to sit, the differing densities of each component causes some of them to settle at the bottom or float to the top. Upon shaking the bottle all the ingredients are redistributed to create a homogenous mixture. Tempering chocolate is like shaking the bottle of salad dressing. The product lasts longer and looks and tastes better.

Tonight was a Charlie-Brown-Christmas-tree kind of night.  I created a product not befitting the Lindt “maitre chocolatier” kitchen. The chocolate was still edible and looked decent enough for the lay person to eat but it was not up-to-standard for those in-the-know. The way I saw it I had 2 ways to react: cry and quit OR get over it and get on with it. (The fight/flight option wasn’t available so I chose option 2.)

When tempering chocolate, as in life, not everything goes according to plan. There is a lot to be said for going with the feel rather than the formula. Some of my best tempering has happened when I wasn’t overly concerned with the temperature of my chocolate. It just looked and felt like right and it turned out the way a well-tempered chocolate should. Besides being fun and providing sustenance baking can teach us lessons in life. Stay tuned for more Lessons in Life through baking.

*Well said! Please refer to the following articulate explanations of chocolate tempering:

  • Dictionary definition
    • A technique by which chocolate is stabilized through a melting-and-cooling process, thereby making it more malleable and glossy.”
      • Herbst, Sharon Tyler and Ron. Food Lover’s Companion. New York: Barron’s,  2007. Print.


    Follow up...I am determined to become a maitre of chocolate tempering and have put myself into chocolate tempering boot camp. People close by, expect to be fed the results.



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