Level: Novice

Reading Time: 6 minutes

With more and more people getting into chocolate making at home so come basic questions.  This week was especially weighted to various ones about tempering.  So in lieu of just one question, here is a run of them.  The intent here is to let you start to see the patterns of what is going on.

Just wanted to see what temp is it best to add silk to milk chocolate and what temp for dark. I had the two numbers 92 and 94 in my head but just wanted to make sure. Thanks!

Both numbers are correct.  You add it at 94 F if the silk is solid and at room temperature. It is added at 92 F if in its creamy state.  The key is you are trying to get the chocolate temperature with the silk to 92-93 F.  The silk is going to drop the temperature when it is solid and cooler so that is why the chocolate is warmer (94-96 F).  The final temperature does not change with the chocolate.  Dark, milk, white, coconut oil, other oils, alternative sugars, etc, all temper with silk at the same temperature.

I'm wondering if a tempering machine such as the Chocovision V would be helpful:
I'm wondering if I can pour chocolate right off the melanger into this tempering machine without requiring to add already seeded chocolate? My goal is to make chocolate bean to bar without having to rely on buying already crystallized chocolate from a vender and simply create my own seeded chocolate.

It really depends on a host of variables.  Tempering machines are not magic.  They do not know how to temper all chocolates.  They do what you tell them.  If you don’t understand how to temper chocolate by hand, then a tempering machine will probably not be a good idea.

The answer to your question is yes though.  You can pour your chocolate from the melanger into a tempering machine and not use seed.  But you need to know the temperature to bring it down to (79-81 F) to form the seed, know what that looks like, and then know the temperature to bring it back to to destroy the non-Type V crystals. 84-85 F for white, 85-86 F for Milk, and 88-89 F for Dark.

The main advantage of a tempering machine is that you don’t have to pay attention to chocolate hitting and maintaining the temperature you tell it to hit and it keeps it homogenous by stirring constantly.

If you want to buy a tempering machine to solve your tempering issues because you can’t temper by hand, you have a good chance of running into problems.  Tech although helpful isn’t a full proof solution.  It is a tool that you have to know how to use.

Why can't we just go from 40 degrees celsius straight down to 30 degrees? in other words, just do tempering in 2 steps. Why the need for 3 steps? (heat, cool, reheat).

At 30 C (80-82 F) you have created Type V and Type IV crystals.  If you don’t get rid of the Type IV then they will interfere with formation of a lot of Type V and that mixture of different crystals is bloom.  By heating back up to 86-88 F you are destroying the Type IV crystals but leaving the Type V intact.  When the chocolate cools again there are a lot more Type V and they can out compete the few Type IV that form again.

I read your instructions page about 6 times. Sorry, I'm still trying to get my head around this, so I am very grateful for your assistance.
1) One thing I didn't understand was - in your Step 2) the "why" -
Why do we need to separate it into 2 bowls? Is it a matter of being time poor, like if you want to hurry up the process? but if you have time you can just skip this and let it cool to the right temperature in 1 bowl?

It has everything to do with scale.  It is easy to cool 1-2 lbs of chocolate.  It is much harder and time consuming to bring 8 lb of chocolate to 80 F and then back up again to your working temperature.

I also didn't understand the need for a water bath for the 1/3 bowl - don't you want to cool it all down anyway to 30 degrees? so just let it naturally cool down? Sorry, there were gaps in my understanding.
Or was it as a back up in case you cool down the 2/3 bowl too much?

I applaud you wishing to understanding all the parts and why you do particular steps.  In this case it is about control and speed.  The water in the 1/3 bowl is 15-20 C.  Also, if your room temperature is somewhat close to your target temperature it can take a really long time to get your chocolate cool enough to form seed and begin to thicken a little.

Silly question but I read 3 things are important to tempering - temperature, movement and time. Why is movement important? Is it to ensure that it's all the same temperature without different pockets of different temperatures? And also, what does it mean by "time" is
important? So long as it reaches the desired temperature, why does time matter?

In this type of tempering movement is only useful for making sure you don’t have hot spots.  Also, once back up at your working temperature stirring is important so that the chocolate does not prematurely set up in your bowl.  Crystal formation does not like motion and you don’t want excess formation before you have finished pouring your chocolate into the molds.

In some ways you are reading too much into what it is important.  Being important does not mean they are all critical all the time.  They are just things to keep in mind.  Time is only important in this case that if you take too long cooling and making your seed your reserve chocolate can cool off too much necessitating extra steps heat things back up.

I bought a 85% Lindt dark chocolate to practice with and snapped it - it snapped beautifully. I tempered it but it didn't set after an hour. My baking paper test failed. I just melted it to 48.9C and brought it down to 32C. I.e. 2 steps. It's very glossy, but I think it will set tomorrow.

Most likely your 2 step test is going to bloom. If you follow what you did, the tempered bar had Type V crystals.  You melted/destroyed them by heating to 48.9 C.  You then brought it down to 32 C.  Without a pattern (i.e. seed formed at 27-28 C) Type IV and Type V will form as it cools further and that combination is bloom.  The chocolate does not know or care you stopped briefly at 32 C.  It only sees that it went from 48.9 C to room temperature.  In essence you didn't do anything at all.  You did not temper it.  You melted it and let it cool.

Through all of this keep asking yourself why you are doing the step  you are doing.  It should either to form a crystal, preserve a crystal or destroy one.  All the bowls, stirring, baths etc are just to help you keep control of the process.  There are times when tempering 1 lb of chocolate you don’t need anything but a couple bowls and something to stir with.  The chocolate will cool off just fine and you only need heat it back up.