Make sure you are using good quality chocolate, preferably a couverture (usually comes in the form of fèves, coins or morsels).
- Finely chop 700 g (1 1/2 pounds) of dark chocolate. It is better to temper this minimum amount or more, as smaller amounts are harder to control.
- Place two-thirds of the chocolate in a double boiler or metal bowl over a saucepan of simmering water. DO NOT LET WATER GET INTO CHOCOLATE! Stir frequently and check the temperature as it shouldn’t exceed 49°C/120°F for dark chocolate, 47°C/116°F for milk chocolate and 45°C/114°F for white chocolate.
- The easiest way is to melt it in a microwave using a 15-10-5 technique (first heat it stirring every 15 seconds, then 10 seconds, and finally every 5 seconds until it reaches the needed temperature ).
- Remove from heat (or microwave) when the chocolate is fully melted. Gradually stir in the remaining 1/3 of chocolate. Let it melt completely before adding more. Allow cooling stirring occasionally until it reaches 29°C/84°F for dark, 27°C/81°F for milk and 26°C/79°F for white chocolate. If it gets cooler than needed – reheat again.
- Once the chocolate is ready, place it back over simmering water. Raise its temperature to 32°C/89-90°F for dark, 30°C/86-87°F for milk and 28°C/82-83°F for white chocolate.
- Remove the bowl from heat. Spread a little bit of melted chocolate an a parchment paper and check it. If it looks sticky and dull, repeat the process starting with two thirds again
Well-tempered chocolate has a shiny, flawless appearance, it is firm and breaks off with a snap. It is important to keep the chocolate in temper as long as you are working with it. If it cools, it can be reheated. Heat it for 5 to 10 seconds at a time, stirring and checking the temperature. If you keep your chocolate within the working temperature range, it will stay in temper and be liquid enough to use.
Have leftovers? Cover it well and keep at 15-18°C/60-65° F. Never chill or store your chocolate in a very warm place as it will result in “blooming” (those white spots that appear on the surface).
Now you’re ready to create your chocolate designs and decorations!