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This guide aims to help you get to grips with the basics of confectionary, from the science and the process behind tempering chocolate, to an in-depth look at how to melt and use Candy Melts, and different ways in which you can present your creations!
Ideally, the first thing you will need is 24 hours – even if you're going for the Super Quick Microwave Method. Why? Because the textural, taste and visual qualities you're looking for will still be establishing themselves during the "settling period" (i.e. directly after you've tempered your chocolate).
Please Note: for simplicity, we've tried to keep as much of the chemistry bits and pieces out of this step-by-step section. Simply reacquaint yourself with the previous page if you're wondering why you're trying to hit the temperatures you are.
Also, because not everyone has a double boiler handy, we'll be using a saucepan and a bowl.
Roughly chop 75% of your chocolate with a knife, placing it in your bowl.
Finely chop the remaining 25% of chocolate and put it to one side.
Half fill your saucepan with water, raising the temperature until it reaches a simmer. Turn off the heat.
Put your chocolate-filled bowl over the saucepan, ensuring no water makes its way into your chocolate, or is touching the bottom of the chocolate bowl.
After it has started to melt, start stirring with your spatula, ensuring you are getting all chocolate off the sides of the bowl in the process.
Use your thermometer to regularly check the temperature. Once your milk chocolate has reached around 46? (Dark: 49?. White: 43?), take it off the heat.
Slowly start adding the 25% of finely chopped chocolate to bring down the temperature, stirring frequently to get rid of any lumps.
Keep taking the temperature of the chocolate until it reaches the 'optimum temperature zone' (where form V crystals will start appearing) (Dark: 28?. Milk: 26.5?. White: 23?).
Put the milk chocolate back onto heat for a couple of seconds whilst stirring. Don't let the temperature exceed 32? or fall below around 29? for a couple of minutes (this facilitates the formation of form V crystals).
Your chocolate is now tempered and is ready to be used!
Revision of Essential Information:
As promised, here's the super-easy, super-quick microwave method of tempering chocolate. Please bear in mind: this will not achieve perfect results!
And if you want to maximise the quality of your microwave tempered chocolate, it will definitely still benefit you to know about (and apply where possible) some of the stuff discussed above.
Chop the chocolate into pieces.
Put the chocolate into a bowl and melt at 800W-1000W.
Remove and check every 10-15 seconds, ensuring it doesn't overheat.
When the chocolate is 90% melted (with a few stray unmelted pieces jiggling around), remove permanently and stir until smooth.
That's it! You've got tempered chocolate to start creating your own sweet treats!