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The summer months are upon us and the areas you are working in are getting warmer. This can give you issues with your tempering. As happens every summer the questions are coming in with multiple variations on this theme so I want to go over a few of them that are pretty common and what you can preemptively do about them.
I am suddenly having trouble tempering. It has been working perfectly for months but now it is all blooming. Could it be the humidity?
First and foremost just stop worrying about relative humidity. In certain pretty rare circumstances it can give you issue but by and far if you control your ambient temperatures any potential humidity issue will just go way. Basically stop looking for problems and focus on the basics.
The biggest issue with tempering in the summer is the ambient temperature. The chocolate needs a temperature gradient in order to temper.
What this means is if you are bowl tempering and trying to get your chocolate too thicken at around 80 F, if it is 75 F you are going to fight to get seed crystal formation as a 5 degree gradient if quite small. The simple solution (which I have already employed with my room being 72 F) is to use a cool water bath to induce the chocolate to cool off. Cold water right out of the tap is usually perfect.
The same holds true when you pour up the chocolate into your molds. The temperature gradient in the room is going to direct effect how the crystals form. Keep in mind that even in fully tempered chocolate, there are minor amounts of Type IV and even Type III crystals. In most cases because you have seeded with a lot of Type V then that is mostly what is there and you get properly tempered chocolate. But if your chocolate is taking more than about 20 minutes to start to set up and loose its wet sheen then you are giving time for more Type IV to form which can lead to blooming.
The very simple solution is to put the chocolate into the refrigerator just until the sheen is gone. That will force the Type V to spread quickly and dominate the bar. I found the sweet spot for me is 8 minutes at about 45 F. If your refrigerator is warmer or colder you may need only 6 minutes or as much as 12 minutes. You are again just looking for the bar to start to set up.
My chocolate bloomed. Can I retemper it?
Yes. See above for summer tips.
Silk has been working great for me but now the chocolate isn’t setting up.
See above about popping the bars into the refrigerator for about 8 minutes to jump start the crystallization process.
I am tempering with Silk. Since I am doing milk chocolate I added it at 86 F but it bloomed.
The wonderful thing about Silk is Silk is a wonderful thing (sorry, just watched the new Pooh trailer). But really, the nice thing about Silk is that no matter what kind of chocolate you are making you still grate it in at 95 F and pour it up at 92 F. Just don’t forget to place it in the refrigerator for 8-10 minutes if your room temperature is above about 74 F.
So there, short and sweet this week. Just remember just because you are doing everything as you have always done that does not mean the conditions you are working in are exactly the same.