Ask the Alchemist #128


I’m doing raw chocolate, that comes out really really good. The only thing is, that even though I do very proper tempering, after being out the fridge a bit, it will soften, hence will not keep firm on the shelf. I wonder if it’s because I use paste and butter, vs bean to bar (via a stone grinder)? Does bean to bar temper better? Is there any butter added to beans when doing bean to bar? The texture, snap, crunch etc I get are amazing once out of the fridge and maybe a few minutes out, yet more than a few minutes, all that texture is gone, and chocolate becomes soft.

I get this question or some variation a few times a month. The main issue here is misconception that whatever is being done is producing a temper. To say “I am doing a proper temper” and following up with ‘it will soften” or bloom, etc is contradictory.

If the chocolate was tempered it would not be soft at room temperature and would not bloom. It’s basically a definition thing.

It does not matter in the least how the bar looks or feels or tastes coming out of the refrigerator. All chocolate is hard and brittle when cold. The whole key about tempering is that it remains hard, glossy and brittle (has good snap) when at room temperature.

In short, it is clear your chocolate is not tempered. As to why, there isn’t enough information to say. I suspect it is just the lack of seed or the wrong temperatures. There is not a lot more it can be.

What I can say is it does not really have anything to do with it not being bean to bar. It might (or might not) have something to do with your chocolate being raw. Many raw chocolates are higher in moisture which can inhibit proper crystallization and thus temper. Likewise, butter can be added to bean to bar chocolate but it does not have to be. It is totally optional.

Much like last week’s question, the real key here is observing what is really going on and diagnosing the problem correctly. “It’s tempered but”….as soon as you put that qualifier in there (“but”) that contradicts your previous statement it should raise a red flag that something is wrong with your initial assessment of the situation. I don’t mean to nitpick. My goal is get you to realize that your chocolate isn’t tempering and that is where your problem is in all likelihood. Once that realization is made, troubleshooting on your own “problems in tempering in the Big G” becomes almost trivial.That said, I’m always here to help and I’ll be touching base personally about this issue to get your situation all fixed up.

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