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.

Tempered chocolate’s 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. Tempered chocolate 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 cooled, tempered chocolate 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, you’ll want to be sure to temper it.

It is important to use tempered chocolate for:

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

Which Chocolate Can Be Tempered?

Not all chocolate can be tempered using this method. You must start with tempered chocolate if you’re going to temper chocolate this way.

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 chocolate 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 unique properties of tempered chocolate.

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 in tempered chocolate – have a melting point of 33.8 C (about 93 F). Form-6 crystals don’t even form from melted, tempered chocolate; they appear in tempered chocolate after months 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

How to Temper Chocolate

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.

Learn how to temper your chocolates for your dessert decorations! It is easy, just follow the simple recipe and make it at home. You’ll have a ganache that shines, properly textured truffles, and gorgeous chocolate-dipped fruits and caramels!
Love it? Share it!

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