A few of you asked me to post my method of tempering chocolate after I commented that I had a fail-safe way of tempering without the use of expensive machines or making a mess in the kitchen. Another of the forum members has already tried it out for me with great success.
You will need:
a large, shallow pan (I use an All-Clad roasting pan)
a stainless steel bowl
an instant-read thermometer
some good-quality chocolate for tempering
a single chunk of chocolate weighing about 25% of the weight of the chocolate to be tempered
In the US, chunks of Callebaut chocolate may be purchased from Whole Foods. Additionally, a heating pad is useful to keep the chocolate in temper while you are working with it. However, it is not necessary and if you don?t have one you will need a nice thick layer of dish towels on which to place the bowl and a couple of towels to wrap around it so as to keep it insulated.
The main requirements for tempering chocolate are monitoring temperature and keeping the chocolate agitated. You also need a dose of patience!
Put approx 1.5? of water in the roasting pan or the large shallow pan. Put the roughly chopped chocolate in the stainless steel bowl, place the bowl in the water and put the pan over a very low heat. Slowly melt the chocolate stirring frequently. Never allow the temperature of the water in the pan to get so hot that you cannot hold your finger in it. As the water never boils, there is no chance of steam getting into your chocolate.
The slower you melt the chocolate the better ? in fact some of the large professional machines perform this process over 12 hours or more. Just remember to stir it now and again and you can get on with something else! Bring the temperature of the chocolate up to 120?F for dark chocolate or 112?F for milk or white chocolate. Remove the pan from the bain marie and place on the worktop. Add the chocolate chunk and now stir more frequently until the temperature comes down to 90?F for dark or 86?F for milk or white (10 ? 15 minutes). The chocolate block provides the ?seed?. Some will melt off but it may be used again the next time you temper. When the desired temperature is reached remove the chocolate chunk and place the bowl on the heating pad or the towels. You need to maintain the temperature at between 87?F and 90?F (84?F and 86?F for milk and white) ? this is your working range. Keep the water temperature in the pan between 100?F and 120?F and if necessary you may put the bowl in the warm water to bring the chocolate temperature up to 90?F (86?F) again. Be very careful when doing this ? if you go over 90?F (86?F) the chocolate will lose temper and you need to start all over again.
Test the chocolate by dipping a small palette knife in the chocolate and place it in the fridge for a few minutes. If the chocolate sets quickly, has no streaks, is not dull and has a snap you are good to go. (The surface next to the metal should be shiny.) Now and then check the temperature to make sure the chocolate is still within range. Note that if the chocolate is not tempered it will take a long time to set, will be very dull and streaky and will bend rather than snap if you try to break it.
Chocolate may be tempered over and over again. When you have finished using it, you may leave it to cool in the bowl. When it?s set it will fall out of the bowl if you tap it gently on the counter.