We were recently invited to a chocolate workshop hosted by Master Chocolatier Derrick Tu Tan Pho of Barry Callebaut Chocolate Academy. During the workshop, Derrick demonstrated for us his recipes for chocolate treats such as macaroons, brownies and mousse.
But most importantly, he shared with us the importance of tempering chocolate. Tempering is the process of heating and melting chocolate to a stage where when cooled, it will have that nice, glossy appearance and crisp ‘snap’ when broken.
Here is Derrick’s foolproof method for tempering chocolate in the microwave. Make sure to use high quality chocolate, and have a calibrated thermometer and some extra chocolate pieces handy!
How to temper chocolate
- Place 1 kg of chocolate pieces into a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave on high for one min. Remove from microwave and stir well.
- Place bowl back in the microwave for one more min on high. Remove and stir well. At this point, about 1/4 of the chocolate will have started to melt.
- Microwave for 30 sec more on high. Remove and stir well. 1/2 to 2/3 of the chocolate should be melted.
- Microwave for another 10 sec, remove and stir it well once again. You can repeat this process for up to three more 10 sec intervals.
- Once all melted, carefully check the temperature of the chocolate using a thermometer. This is the crucial point – the chocolate should not be over 32C (or 89-90F) for dark chocolate. For milk chocolate 30C (or 86F), for white chocolate 29C (84F).
- Keep stirring the chocolate until you reach the desired temperature. The chocolate should be glossy and smooth.
NOTE: If the chocolate is at a higher temperature than the crucial temperature point, add a few more chocolate pieces and stir in until melted. This will cool down the overall temperature of the chocolate. The goal is to get the chocolate to the correct temperature. DO NOT place the chocolate in the refrigerator or freezer to bring down the temperature!
Now that your chocolate has been tempered, you can use it for a variety of treats including molded chocolate candies and candy bark.
One of my favourite tricks that Derrick taught us is to place a bowl of Grand Marnier (or another delicious liqueur) in the freezer for a few hours. The alcohol just gets really cold, rather than actually freezing into ice.
Pour your melted chocolate into a piping bag with a fine tip (or a Ziploc bag with a very small tip cut in the corner). Pipe out designs on the liqueur and your chocolate will instantly harden on the cool liquid.
Derrick giving me his expert directions!
Not only a sweet accessory to your dessert, but also infused with a little bit of extra boozy flavour too!
Originally published December 2010; Updated October 2019.