How to Temper Chocolate Easily Using a Microwave
Home  »  Recipes  »  Candy  »  

How to Temper Chocolate – Tempering Chocolate the Easy Way

Tempered chocolate is shiny and reflective and breaks with a clean crisp break.

There are a variety of ways to temper chocolate, but I’m going to show you how to temper chocolate the absolute easiest way – all you need is chocolate and a microwave!

How to Temper Chocolate

What Is Tempered Chocolate?

Tempered chocolate is chocolate that has been heated and cooled in just the right way to produce smooth, shiny chocolate with a good snap.

When tempered, the cocoa butter molecules are lined up to make only form-5 beta crystals. Other crystal forms yield chocolate with an unpleasant mouth feel and rough texture.

Why You Should Temper Chocolate

Tempering gives chocolate certain desirable characteristics:

  • It will be dense and will not crumble.
  • It will be shiny. This indicates that the internal crystal structure is uniform.
  • It will have a good, clean snap. Chocolate that isn’t tempered won’t make a sound when you break it.
  • It will be stable at room temperature. Putting a piece in your hand for a moment should not leave a trail of melted chocolate.
tempered chocolate on a spoon

Perfectly tempered chocolate is smooth, shiny, and has a good, clean snap when broken.

If you just melt and cool chocolate any which way, it doesn’t harden with the proper almost-reflective surface and the smooth crisp break of chocolate that’s been tempered correctly. The chocolate could end up rubbery and fugdey, lack luster, or crumble. This indicates that it is out of temper and that the cocoa butter molecules have formed other types of crystals.

Chocolate that is out of temper may also bloom. (Have you have had old chocolate turn a little grey? This is called blooming.)

pieces of chocolate that are out of temper

This chocolate is out of temper – note the cracks, crumbly texture, and surface blooming.

How is Tempered Chocolate Used?

It doesn’t matter if chocolate is tempered when using it in cake batter. However, if your chocolate will be visible in your end product, tempering is important.

It is fantastic when used to make:

Pink serving dish filled with square and round bonbons painted with gold

Which Chocolate Can Be Tempered?

Not all chocolate can be tempered with this partial melt method. You must start with chocolate that has already been tempered if you’re going to temper chocolate using the microwave.

The best chocolate to use is:

  • Chocolate discs (I like using Callebaut chocolate discs or TCHO discs) – Chocolate discs are designed for melting and they are already tempered – a requirement for this method of tempering.
  • A block of tempered chocolate – You would need to chop it into small pieces yourself. There’s an inexpensive chocolate chopper you can buy to help with this.
  • Some chocolate bars – Be careful of which brand you buy. If you see ingredients like vegetable oil, coconut oil, even artificial chocolate flavoring, don’t buy it as they will interfere with the tempering process.

Bag of TCHO Chocolate DiscsYou should absolutely avoid other types of chocolate:

  • Chocolate chips are designed to hold their shape while cookies are in the oven, so they aren’t the best choice for melting and tempering.
  • Unsweetened chocolate (sometimes labeled baking chocolate) – If you’ve ever tasted that chocolate on its own, you’ll know why. It’s only meant to be eaten after being mixed with sugar in baked goods.
  • Candy meltsCandy melts are easy to work with. You don’t need to worry about tempering at all. But, they aren’t real chocolate and their flavor won’t be nearly as good as the real thing! You should be wary of chocolate labeled ‘compound chocolate’ or ‘chocolate coating’ as the texture and taste is totally different from the real deal.

Tempering Chocolate the Easy Way

I learned how to temper chocolate from the pros at Kakao Chocolate. I got to be a chocolatier for a day – this meant that, in addition to being trained by a professional chocolatier, I got to eat all of the chocolate that I wanted all day long. Hello, sugar high!

Here I am dipping truffles with Jenny from Kakao Chocolate. Don’t they have the cheeriest work space?!

Jenny from Kakao taught me that if she isn’t using the expensive tempering machine shown above (these machines cost almost $2,000), she uses the Partial Melt Method. I took out my notebook. The Partial Melt Method sounded fancy but was pretty simple – it’s how you can temper chocolate using a microwave.

The Partial Melt Method

Here’s how you temper chocolate in a microwave:

  1. Put your chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl.

  1. Microwave in short bursts, stirring vigorously between bursts until 75% of the chocolate is melted. The exact amount of time the chocolate needs to be in the microwave will depend on your particular microwave.
    In the shop, Jenny taught me to initially microwave for a minute at half power, then microwave for thirty more seconds at half power for the next interval (she only needed the two bursts) – that worked for me at home as well.

  1. Mix the melted chocolate with the unmelted chocolate already in your bowl until completely smooth. When about 75% of the chocolate is melted, the final stir will melt the remaining chocolate. Microwave in very short bursts at this point if you’re having trouble getting all of the chocolate to melt.

  1. Wait until the chocolate cools to 90 F (for dark, semisweet, and bittersweet chocolate) or 86 F (for milk and white chocolate) before using it. Your patience will be rewarded. If you use the chocolate while it is too hot, it won’t hold a shape.

Making sure to not melt all of the chocolate using the microwave – using the heat of the melted chocolate to melt the 25% remaining unmelted chocolate in your bowl – is key to achieving a proper temper, so don’t overlook this detail!

Why This Easy Method of Tempering Chocolate Works

Tempered chocolate has cocoa butter crystals that only occur in a particular form. The tempering process has only a few aims:

  1. You want to dissolve cocoa butter crystal forms that are undesirable.
  2. You want cocoa butter crystals to form in the one crystal structure (form-5 beta crystals) that guarantees the desirable unique properties.

Cocoa butter molecules can form six different forms of crystals. Crystals that are form-1 through form-4 melt at or below 27.3 C (about 81 F). Form-5 beta crystals – what you’re looking for – have a melting point of 33.8 C (about 93 F). Form-6 crystals don’t even form from melted, tempered chocolate; they appear months later and you can often see evidence of form-6 crystal formation as surface blooming.

When you heat chocolate in the microwave so that 75% of it is melted, the melted cocoa butter is heated so no crystal forms remain. Stirring in unmelted chocolate until it melts cools the chocolate down so cocoa butter molecules begin to crystallize – and encourages formation of the form-5 crystals. The unmelted, tempered chocolate in your bowl acts as a seed for proper form-5 beta crystal formation.

Using a Candy Thermometer for Accuracy

You don’t need to use a candy thermometer when you temper chocolate using a microwave, but doing so can be helpful if you really want a great end result.

To not damage the chocolate, it’s recommended that chocolate never go over 122 F (for dark, semisweet, and bittersweet chocolate) or 105 F (for milk and white chocolate). Once over these temperatures, the chocolate will become thick, have a grainy texture, and might even burn.

How to Temper Chocolate

Tempered Chocolate on a Spoon

How to temper chocolate easily in the microwave using the partial melt method.

Active Time 2 minutes
Total Time 2 minutes
Difficulty Easy

Materials

  • Chocolate (See notes)

Tools

  • Candy thermometer (optional)

Instructions

  1. Place the chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl.
  2. Microwave in short bursts, stirring vigorously between bursts until 75% of the chocolate is melted. The exact amount of time the chocolate needs to be in the microwave will depend on your particular microwave. In my microwave, I do it for a minute at half power, then microwave for thirty more seconds at half power for the next interval.
  3. Mix the melted chocolate with the unmelted chocolate already in your bowl until completely smooth.
  4. Wait until the chocolate cools slightly before using it. If you have a candy thermometer, check to make sure it is 90 F (for dark, semisweet, and bittersweet chocolate) or 86 F (for milk and white chocolate) before using it.

Notes

For the chocolate, you can use:

  • Chocolate discs (I like using Callebaut chocolate discs or TCHO discs) - Chocolate discs are designed for melting.
  • block of tempered chocolate - You will need to chop it into small pieces yourself. You can buy an inexpensive chocolate chopper to help with this.
  • Some chocolate bars - Be careful of which brand you buy. If you see ingredients like vegetable oil, coconut oil, or even artificial chocolate flavoring, don’t buy it.

Don’t use:

  • Chocolate chips - They are designed to hold their shape while cookies are in the oven so they aren’t the best choice for melting and tempering.
  • Unsweetened chocolate (sometimes labeled baking chocolate) – If you’ve ever tasted that chocolate on it’s own, you’ll know why. It’s only meant to be eaten after being mixed with sugar in baked goods.
  • Candy melts – Candy melts are easy to work with. You don’t need to worry about tempering at all. But, they aren’t real chocolate. Their flavor won’t be nearly as good as the real thing! You should be wary of chocolate labeled ‘compound chocolate’  or ‘chocolate coating' as the texture and taste is totally different from the real deal.

If you have a candy thermometer, make sure that the chocolate never goes over 122 F (for dark, semisweet, and bittersweet chocolate) or 105 F (for milk and white chocolate); once over these temperatures, the chocolate will become thick, have a grainy texture, and might even burn.

If you accidentally melt all of your chocolate in the microwave instead of only 75% of it, add unmelted, tempered chocolate to the bowl and stir until it melts completely.

How to Temper Chocolate – Tempering Chocolate the Easy Way
Love it? Share it!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

17 comments on “How to Temper Chocolate – Tempering Chocolate the Easy Way”

  1. I want to take a bath in that fifth photo!

  2. Ohhh thanks so much for sharing this :D I adore your blog!

  3. Annsays:

    “Although my chocolate may look like chocolate chips, it is not. These are Callebaut chocolate discs. Chocolate chips will not temper well. Giver’s Log (the blog of a chocolate maker) explains that “chocolate chips are not designed to melt, in fact, they’re designed to not melt (so they can hold their shape in your favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe).” The chocolate discs are designed for melting. ”
    This explains it all! The only chips you can find in Belgium are the Callebaut discs. I always wondered how others could have hard chocolate in their cookies. Mine stay soft in my cookies and cakes. I thought I was using chocolate chips but I wasn’t. Anyway, nothing I can do about it since there isn’t an alternative. Thanks for explaining :-)

  4. radhakssays:

    Hi – I was wondering if the chocolate disks that you used were already tempered or not? Given the tempering method you used, it seems they were tempered to start with but since I’m still somewhat new at learning all this stuff, really wanted to know for sure. Thank you!

  5. Midgesays:

    Can you please tell us how much chocolate was in the bowl? I’ve tried this method and it’s just not working. It looks great and then once the chocolate has sat for a few days out of the fridge it gets chalky looking and dull. I have read that is has “bloomed” ? Is this cooking it too long or not long enough?
    Thank you

  6. Kathy Bsays:

    I love this! After some failed attempts at tempering chocolate, I came across your page. You’ve been such a great help!
    P.S. I just LOVE the 5th photo…

  7. Macsays:

    That will not temper chocolate,I have made a thousand bars by hand, tempered by hand, I am a bean to bar maker in Panam a chocolate maker. All you have made here is untempered. The only way this recipie will yield tempered is if by accident the tempered chocolate you added takes the temperature down to 84 or so and the excess heat from the other melted brings it back up to 91 or so which would just be by luck, and you will have to be stirring it on the way back up. Past 94 or so it goes out of temper and the crystal bonds are done. It isnt hard but is precise.

  8. sweetoothsays:

    The video was great but I still have a couple of questions.
    1). Are the callebaut (and other brands that you buy in discs) all pre-tempered? E.g. Callebaut organic semi-sweet callets. Is this actually “tempered” chocolate and I am re-tempering it?

    2). If you are slow, as I am, and you are doing a truffles by hand or coating by hand – how do you keep the chocolate at 86 degrees for any length of time?

  9. Amandasays:

    Hi! I purchased the 60.3% Callebaut chocolate. Can I use that to make chocolate covered strawberries? I don’t know if it’s sweet enough?

  10. Marilee Leachsays:

    What great information. Can’t wait to try something knowing this now.

  11. TJsays:

    Thank you soooo much! After much practice, tonight I perfectly tempered chocolate and it was amazing! Thank you thank you!

  12. Josh Sugarmansays:

    I feel this post is misleading to people. You can’t just melt and stir for tempered chocolate. you have to heat, reduce heat, and heat again to the proper temps to get shine and snap in tmpered chocolate this is done by tabling or seeding.

  13. Jan Johnsonsays:

    Wonderful how to article! Where do you purchase the chocolate discs you are using? Grocery, Wal-Mart type stores? Thanks so much. I look forward to your next article

  14. Mariesays:

    Do you spray the silacone cups with a spray first?

  15. Melaniesays:

    Thank you for your tips. I was wondering how much to cool the tempered chocolate if using it as a drizzle instead of a dip?

  16. It was perfect the first time. I learn so much from you as well! Keep it up great post.

Show All Comments

Stay Connected!

Join my mailing list - and receive a free eBook!

Sign me up!
Gray Logos Representing Media Where Cupcake Project has Appeared
Next Post