How to Temper Chocolate

Picture of How to Temper Chocolate
The 4 simple steps you need to know to temper chocolate perfectly every time.  There's no magic in getting chocolate to temper - it just seems that way!  Follow these easy steps and never be intimidated by chocolate again.

When you buy chocolate, it is already "in temper."  This means that all of the fat crystals are aligned to give the chocolate perfect snap and shine.  When you melt chocolate to change its shape or use it in a recipe, you are taking it out of temper.  The heat causes the fat molecules get all jumpy and if they aren't realigned correctly, you get what's called "bloom."  Bloomed chocolate still tastes great, it just loses its visual and textural appeal.  But even bloomed chocolate can be brought back into temper!

Tempering chocolate can seem like a big mystery, but all you need is a bowl, a pan and a thermometer to get it right every time.  For the most accurate results, I recommend using an instant-read thermometer.  

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Step 1: Setup

Picture of Setup
If you have a double boiler, more power to you!  If you don't, you can set up a simple "bain-marie:"  
  • Rest a metal bowl on a saucepan with 1 inch of water in bottom.
  • Make sure the bottom of the bowl is at least 1 inch above the surface of the water - not resting in the water.
Using chopped chocolate or chocolate wafers, reserve a quarter of the amount of chocolate in a separate bowl to use as a "seed" later.

Grab a silicone spatula and a good thermometer, and you're ready to rock.

Step 2: Melt

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Bring the water in your saucepan to a SIMMER  (do not boil)

Stir the chocolate continuously until it has all melted smoothly.

Bring the chocolate to:
  • 118oF (48C) for Dark Chocolate
  • 112oF (45C) for Milk Chocolate
Remove the bowl of chocolate from the saucepan and carefully wipe the steam from bottom of the bowl.

ONE DROP OF WATER IN THE MELTED CHOCOLATE WILL CAUSE IT TO SEIZE and, well, ruin it completely.    So, you know, be careful.

swordfish723 months ago


Thanks for the clear instructions!

I followed the steps and the instructions but did not manage to get shiny chocolate.

I used it to cover a cake and spread it with a spatula; was that a mistake?

Also, the day I covered the cake was rather humid; could that have been the reason?

Great article. Thank you!

I have been following the instructions on the back-side of the label on my favorite milk chocolate coatings for years, to temper, but really had no idea why I was going through the extra work until reading your article.

Also, regarding white 'chocolate', out is not necessary to temper, since it's considered a coating, and not really true chocolate. You can also purchase milk chocolate coatings that do not require tempering, but they don't taste quite as good as real milk chocolate.

Oh, photos of tempered and bloomed chocolate would be helpful as a descriptor.

Thanks for the article!
Very helpful!

I just tell my recipients to refrigerate the chocolates if they will not consume because it will melt in no time. After all, they are home made and not for commercial consumption. Easy...

I just tell my recipients to refrigerate the chocolates if they will not consume because it will melt in no time. After all, they are home made and not for commercial consumption. Easy...

How/when would you add water based things such as vanilla extract to prevent ruining it?
i dont have a microwave so this instructable is really useful :D thumbs up
Cam9183 years ago
Always wanted to know how this was done...never seems to work when I try it, unfortunately...
what about for white chocolate? I can never get it as thin as milk chocolate to dip my strawberries in :/
i'm not sure if white chocolate can be tempered. white chocolate is actually just cocoa butter, and there have been some debates as to whether it is actually "chocolate". i don't think the same principles of tempering apply as white chocolate and... well... normal chocolate are very different. hope i helped!
If anyone is interested in the why temper chemistry have a look here...

Basically cocoa butter has 6 types of crystaline form depending on how it was last "set".

We heat to liquify the cocoa butter crystals and then control the setting temperature to make sure we get the most good type of crystals.

Given this then you should be able to temper white chocolate too but the temperatures might be lower again than the Dark and Milk versions that Schoochmaroo listed.
that's what I was thinking Pattus, through trial and error I think I might be heating it just a bit too high or too long? there has to be a way because Chocolatiers do it all the time and come out with beautiful results. I've come close to it but I added crisco it it to get those results.
What sort of white chocolate are you using? Some of the common brands (like Nestle and Toll House) contain hydrogenated or other cheap high-melting fats but no cocoa butter at all, which means that they don't melt properly.

The upside to the fact that these "chocolates" contains no cocoa butter is that they don't require tempering - you can hold them close to their maximum working temperature to thin them, which should be around 110 degrees F.

A mid-level white chocolate like that from Ghirardelli usually contains small amounts of cocoa butter in addition to the cheaper fats, and therefore does require tempering.

A high-quality (and, unfortunately, high-price) white chocolate like Guittard's contains only cocoa butter, and none of the cheap fillers.

The higher the cocoa butter content of the chocolate, the better it will look (and taste!) in the final product. Tempered crystals of cocoa butter give chocolate its characteristic high gloss and "snap." Because of this, the best fat to add to chocolate to thin it is cocoa butter! You can usually find sticks of pure cocoa butter at drugstores, usually sold by the skincare products. Just make sure it says "100% pure cocoa butter" or something similar - the cocoa butter blends smell nice, but taste terrible. ;)
xxev753 years ago
mmmmm chocolate ;)
KEUrban3 years ago
So I have a question, Scooch... If I have a sous vide, could I just float a stainless steel bowl in it with the temp set to 88-90 degrees depending on the kind of chocolate?
scoochmaroo (author)  KEUrban3 years ago
Yes. FIrst heat it up to the higher temp to get all the fats properly out of alignment, and then keep it at the 88-90 mark to let them settle back in. That would be perfect!
Kaiven3 years ago
Fingernail polish = win color?
Chocolate... too bad my brother hates the stuff. I'll have to do this for my bacon sometime.
scoochmaroo (author)  Kaiven3 years ago
:D Thanks for noticing!
Maybe I should match my manicure to all of my projects from now on. . .
Kaelessin3 years ago
HA! that makes so much sense! It's actually the same idea as tempering steel or glass . . .similar processes too (though this one yields tastier results)

It'd be really neat to show the difference at the end with a picture of something molded with tempered chocolate and something molded with untempered chocolate . . . your description is great but nothing quite does it like a picture you know? Just my .02 . . .

scoochmaroo (author)  Kaelessin3 years ago
Now that is an excellent suggestion. I will definitely add that in at my first chance!
Now I can link to this instead of including the directions in one of my instructables :)

scoochmaroo (author)  supersoftdrink3 years ago
I don't know what took me so long!
Carleyy3 years ago
YAY. I have been waiting for this instructable!!!!!!