"Do you think you could get me a marble plate?"
"A marble plate... You know like a big square block of marble."
"What do you need that for?"
"You know... to temper chocolate."
"Oh. Like what do you mean? How big?"
"Just big enough so that I can temper chocolate on it."
"I'll see what I can do..."
Before starting my apprenticeship, and even in the beginning of it, tempering chocolate was this terrifying technique that I thought I could never master. Why on earth did I doubt myself? I guess I never actually understood why we had to temper the chocolate and I don't think I could actually envision the possibilities that come from tempering chocolate.
Since then, I've come to love using chocolate in a lot of different ways. Which is weird, because up until I was about 20 or so... I hated chocolate. I'm not kidding. Ask my parents and my childhood friends. I didn't eat chocolate and it wasn't until recently that I've come to appreciate it in all of its glory.
So why do we temper chocolate? To make it pretty!
I wish the answer was as simple as that, except that like most things in life... it's not.
"To make it pretty," is only about half of it. Chocolate, all except for white chocolate which isn't really chocolate at all, consists of three ingredients: Cocoa, sugar and cocoa butter. When chocolate is not tempered correctly, the ingredients are not dispersed evenly and the cocoa butter rises to the top and creates a dull, grayish color, A.K.A gray chocolate. When the chocolate is heated and cooled to the correct temperatures, the ingredients will be evenly dispersed, the chocolate will have a shiny, smooth color and it will harden fast.
-Heat the chocolate to about 45 degrees Celsius.
-Cool the chocolate (whether it be tempering it on a marble plate or adding chips of non-melted chocolate to the melted chocolate) to anywhere from 26-28 degrees Celsius.
-Re-heat the chocolate to 32 degrees Celcius.
-Test the chocolate! This is important because if you start right away working with the chocolate and it is not tempered correctly, you will be sorry you didn't test it. Start off testing on piece and wait a few minutes to see if the chocolate starts to harden.
Seems simple enough, right? Right.