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Tempering Chocolate

I've had problems tempering chocolate over the past few years. I seem to have found a simple technique that works better than what I had been doing before and doesn't require me to buy any new equipment.

My favorite type of dipped chocolate to make is caramel. Here is my latest batch. I used mostly dark brown sugar because that is what I had on hand. I really like the result, which is a richer taste that isn't in the least overpowering. They also turned out a little soft and drooped under the weight of gravity. I don't know if I missed the temperature mark by a degree or two or if the dark brown sugar affected the soft ball temperature. The good news is that the chocolate helps to contain the caramel.

Here is the chocolate melting. As with the standard procedure, I heated it up and then slowly cooled it down while vigorously stirring.

My new twist is to use a refrigerated plate to cool down part of the chocolate. Chocolatiers use a cooled marble slab; they work a blob of chocolate back and forth to cool it and jostle those molecules into the right configuration. Given that I'm working on small batches, the plate is big enough and retains its temperature well enough to make this process work. I spooned out some chocolate and worked it until it was close to firm, then put it back into the pot and continued stirring.

Here are the chocolates after cooling. They are discolored, which is my next problem to tackle (peak temperature too high?), but the enrobement is nice and firm. And I didn't have to buy a slab of marble and figure out where to store it in my kitchen.


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