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Tempering chocolate isn’t always foolproof, as I’ve discovered. It turns out there are several factors that affect your tempering efforts. For instance, I realized condensation is a significant threat to producing pretty chocolate hearts and cherubs. That made me think: what else causes chocolate to not temper?
Why Is My Chocolate Not Tempering?
Your chocolate may not be tempering due to improper heating or cooling. Tempering involves precise temperature control to achieve the right crystal structure. Overheating or rapid cooling can disrupt this process, resulting in untempered chocolate with a dull appearance and poor snap. Use a thermometer and follow tempering instructions carefully.
Sometimes, you can follow chocolate tempering instructions to the letter. However, you still don’t achieve the picture-perfect results you hoped for. That’s because tempering chocolate is a science. Literally. A whole bunch of chemistry and physics is at play when you’re making yummy things (or at least trying to).
Therefore, it helps to have a basic understanding of the principles and dynamics behind the chocolate-tempering process. Let’s look at the common reasons for chocolate not tempering next:
Incorrect Temperatures At Different Tempering Stages
Temperature plays an essential role in tempering, affecting how the cocoa butter crystals form, stabilize, and set. Here are a few ways that temperature can negatively impact chocolate tempering:
Overheating The Chocolate
Heating chocolate beyond its ideal tempering temperature can cause it to scorch or separate. Overheating also causes cocoa butter to separate from the cocoa solids, creating an unworkable texture.
Cooling It Too Quickly Or Unevenly
If you cool chocolate too soon and quickly after melting it, the cocoa butter crystals risk not forming correctly. Tempered chocolate that is cooled too quickly will have a dull appearance and soft, crumbly texture.
Likewise, if your chocolate cools unevenly, the crystals within it won’t form homogeneously, affecting how it tempers. Therefore, checking the room temperature and ensuring countertops are cool (not warm) for proper crystal formation is recommended. If you’re using equipment, make sure you know how to use a chocolate tempering machine to achieve a great result.
Inaccurate Measurement Of Temperature
Your thermometer may be inaccurate, giving you incorrect temperature readings. Ensure your thermometer is correctly calibrated to accurately monitor and set the temperature according to the stage and type of chocolate you’re tempering. If using a machine, ensure you use the best chocolate tempering machine for reliable performance.
Problems With The Chocolate, Crystals, Or Contaminants
If you made sure your working environment is suitably cool (and warm where it needs to be), there could be a problem with the ingredients. Here are some things that can go wrong when tempering chocolate.
Contaminating Tempering Chocolate
It’s very easy to contaminate chocolate, even if you work in a pristine environment. That’s because the tiniest amount of water can wreak havoc with tempering chocolate. Whether in the form of residual moisture or steam, introducing water to chocolate causes it to become thick and grainy, or it can cause bloom.
It’s not only your aunt who’s unstable. Chocolate can also be unstable and lose its temper if not correctly prepared. Therefore, it’s best to use a fresh batch of chocolate instead of previously incorrectly tempered chocolate.
Low-Quality Or Expired Chocolate
Low-quality and expired chocolate will impact the tempering process. Instead, use high-quality chocolate with a high cocoa butter content for better results.
If it’s your first or even second time tempering chocolate, we’ll forgive you if the problem is (ahem) poor technique. Below are some no-no techniques to avoid when tempering chocolate:
- Stirring Too Vigorously: Suppose you’re tempering chocolate in a double boiler. In that case, you must gently agitate it to evenly distribute the seed and cocoa butter crystals to distribute them evenly. However, overly enthusiastic and vigorous stirring will introduce unwanted air bubbles that disrupt crystal formation.
- Using A Microwave: Microwaving chocolate for tempering might be considered a carnal sin to some, though it is possible. However, it’s difficult to precisely monitor the chocolate’s temperature when microwaving it, risking overheating and scorching.
- Inadequate Seeding: Seeding involves adding small pieces of adequately tempered chocolate to melted chocolate to encourage stable crystal formation. Therefore, you must ensure you use the correct amount of seed chocolate and that it is properly tempered.
Do you still need to figure out why your chocolate isn’t tempering? These FAQs may help.
Why Has My Chocolate Seized?
Chocolate will seize during tempering if water (residual, condensation, or steam) is introduced. If your double boiler causes condensation to drip into the chocolate, use a chocolate tempering machine or melt your chocolate in the microwave in short increments instead.
Why Won’t My Chocolate Set?
Tempered chocolate won’t set if it hasn’t got enough crystals. This is likely due to the insufficient introduction of seed chocolate during the cooling stages, which helps form Type V crystals.
Why Does My Chocolate Look Hazy?
A hazy or whitening effect on chocolate is caused by sugar bloom. Bloom usually occurs with the introduction of moisture or excessive humidity. Therefore, it’s essential to ensure your tools and work surfaces remain clean and dry. Additionally, avoid rapid temperature changes that could introduce unwanted condensation.
Tempering chocolate comes with its challenges, as minor (or seemingly insignificant) issues can affect the outcome. The most common reasons for chocolate not tempering include using the incorrect temperatures and techniques. Introducing water or inferior-quality ingredients will also hamper or ruin chocolate tempering efforts.
Richmond Howard started Meal Prepify in 2019 and has helped over a million people learn how to meal prep, get better at meal planning, and create a kitchen they love to use. He’s an avid home chef and loves to bbq, grill out, and make awesome food for family and friends. He’s been featured on MSN, Renaissance Periodization, and Good Financial Cents.