If you watched Chocolate Week during this year’s Great British Bake Off, you’ll have spotted a number of the bakers tempering their white chocolate during the Showstopper Challenge. The bakers were tasked with creating a celebration cake using white chocolate as the main ingredient, as well as for decorations.
“Tempering chocolate is all to do with the crystallisation of cocoa butter during the process of melting and cooling chocolate,” Alice explains. “When you buy chocolate from the supermarket it is shiny and snaps when you break it. If you melt it and cool it again without tempering, the cocoa butter crystals form in a loose and uneven structure leaving you with dull chocolate that crumbles rather than snaps. Tempering by controlling the temperature of the chocolate as it cools allows consistently small and even cocoa butter crystals to form, which creates that lovely shiny snap.”
Alice added that tempering white chocolate is much harder than tempering milk or dark chocolate, as it contains far more cocoa butter.
“The bakers had to work with white chocolate in the Showstopper, which has a higher cocoa butter percentage than other chocolates, making it a tricky challenge.”
How to temper chocolate
So, now we know the reason for tempering chocolate, but how do we actually go about it?
"In order to get the perfectly tempered chocolate, this chocolate needs first to be melted at 40°C. Then, I usually pour it over a marble table and spread it using a palette knife in order to cool it down to 27°C. This process needs to be done with care, by moving the chocolate constantly on the table in order to avoid creating any lumps of chocolate that would crystallise.
"The last step of our crystallisation is to warm up the chocolate to 32°C. Now the chocolate is ready to be used! The time, the movements and the temperature are crucial to get a nice tempering.
"The process is the same for the four types of chocolate being the dark, the milk, the white and the last created by Barry Callebaut which is the Ruby chocolate. But the temperatures change! The one above is the dark chocolate one, the milk one is 40°C then 26°C then 31°C, the white one is 40°C then 26°C then 30°C and the Ruby one is 40°C then 27°C then 30°C."
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