Ask the Alchemist #190

Level: Apprentice
Reading Time: 5 Minutes

I use a Chocovision Delta to temper chocolate and have two questions:
(1) In using the seeding method (with tempered chocolate from the bag or from a bar of the same chocolate), I learned that it doesn't take very much seed for the chocolate to test as in temper--not the 30% or so that many (most?) people recommend. In fact, I wait for the temp to drop to around 95F before adding the seed, then remove it at 90F Chocovision says to add it as soon as the chocolate is at its highest temp and leave it until 90 is reached, but I found that doing so caused the chocolate to become over-crystallized quite soon. There is also the issue that the Type V crystals are just melting when the temp is above 93 or so. After reading your material on tempering and specifically on the "quality" of temper, I am wondering if I am doing something wrong. I always test for temper, and a great majority of my chocolates release from their molds without issue (sometimes some banging on the counter, sometimes a little while in the freezer is required). Could you suggest what might explain the apparent fact that the small amount of seed seems to work?
(2) I have the EZtemper. In your review of the product, you give some reasons why it might be preferable to use the cocoa butter "silk" for tempering. In using it the way Kerry directs for tempering chocolate, it seemed to me that over-crystallization occurred sooner than when I used chocolate for seed.    Is this a possibility--or is it more likely my imagination? I have a huge problem with over-crystallization and am exploring every possibility for ridding myself of this issue.


Many people would envy you your problem as you probably know.  But I completely understand where you are coming from.  You can certainly have too much of a good thing. 

The main thing to understand about tempering is that it is not a static process.  It just appears that way.  Most people tend to think of it as sort of filing a hole with dirt. When the hole is full, your chocolate is tempered.  You build crystals.  Once enough are built then your chocolate is in temper and it can setup. 

But it isn’t quite like that.  In many ways it is a dance. A give and take.  In chemistry it is called an equilibrium.  In most cases Type V crystals are forming and melting at the same time.  It is more filling a bucket with a hole in it.  It’s filling but also draining.  Your job is to get it full (fully tempered) without overflowing (over tempered).

It is important to try and get a grasp of that concept because with it you can start to manipulate your tempering session if you need to.

In your case you are overflowing the bucket. You need to drain a bit out.  You therefore have two choices.  You can pour water in a little slower  (less seed) or you can destroy some of the crystals a bit (raise the temperature).  Oryou can do a little of both. Whatever works for your method. 

In your first case I would recommend raising the temperature from 90 F to 91 F and see how that goes. 

It’s is also worth explaining that when you add your seed at 95 F, the Type V do not instantly melt.  They take a while.  It is the same as putting an ice cube into hot water.  It takes a while to melt.  And in the process it cools the liquid down.  The recommendation to add it at 95 F is for the same reason.  It gets the chocolate temperature down a little without dropping it radically only to have the tempering machine have to kick on and re-heat the chocolate.

The same is true of Silk.  The recommended amount is just a guide.  I often use as little as 0.5% and add it at 95 F.  So decrease how much you use to shift the equilibrium back the other way.

In both cases, the amount you use  and temperature will basically depend on the quality of your Silk or seed.  The better, and by better I mean amount of Type V, your seed or silk, the less you need and the higher you can take your temperatures.  I can’t really tell you because I don’t know how much Type V is in the product you are using.

My general recommendation is to increase your temperature 1 F at a time and/or decrease your seed/silk by 25% until you get the type of temper you want.