By The Spoonful


Chocolate Tempering 101

It’s not always easy to melt chocolate so it will set properly and have a shiny coat while making your favorite chocolate covered goodies. It can often burn, seize or sometimes it just won’t harden like you know it should. So I offer you easy steps, tips and techniques on how to properly chocolate cover you’re your favorite foods.

Tempered chocolate is the secret professional use to make their flawless looking chocolate products. Chocolate that has been tempered is smooth, with a shiny finish and a satisfying snap when broken. If you’re planning on making dipped or molded chocolates, the chocolate must be tempered so it behaves properly to produce goodies that are both delicious and attractive.

Professionals have special tools, marble slabs and tempering machines. I don’t have the counter space, or the income for these fancy gadgets. I have put together this straightforward guide to tempering chocolate at home using the tools you already own. After a little patience and practice, tempering chocolate is actually quite simple.

Temper chocolate with these easy steps: 

  • Chocolate needs to be in small chunks
    • Chop Your Chocolate- Be sure you purchase chocolate in block, bar or disk form, do not use chocolate chips. Chocolate chips have additives that allow them to retain their shape at higher temperatures, so they will not temper properly.
  • Melt 2/3rds The Chocolate
    • Using a plastic microwave safe dish, melt chocolate in 45 second intervals, stirring in-between until chocolate has melted. Then microwave in 10-15 second intervals.
      • Plastic is best because it retains little heat after being heated and will cool faster. If you use a glass bowl it will take longer for the chocolate to cool after being melted for the next step because it retains the heat.


  • Use a double boiler, set over simmering water. Securely clip a candy or instant-read thermometer to the side of the bowl to monitor chocolate’s temperature.
    • Be careful with this method, you don’t want any water vapor to end up in the chocolate.
  • Stir continuously
    • Gently stir and scrape the bottom of the bowl until chocolate has melted, this will help prevent burning. Use a rubber scraper-not a wooden spoon.
    • Why not wood? Wood can retain moisture, moisture can ruin chocolate.
  • Watch Chocolate’s Temperature
    • Bring chocolate to 116°F-118°F or and 110°F for white chocolate, remove from heat. Do not heat chocolate any further or you risk it burning.
    • If using a double boiler method, make sure no water vapor or water drops touch chocolate. Chocolate + water = trouble. If water mixes in with the melted chocolate it will start to seize, or firm up and the chocolate will be ruined. Tip: Have paper towels nearby to wipe away any possible water from the bowls rim.
  • Seed The Chocolate
    • Add the remaining 1/3 chocolate in small increments, stirring to incorporate the remaining chocolate chunks. They will melt from the heat of the already melted chocolate.
    • Seeding the chocolate will help bring down the already melted chocolate’s temperature, stabilizing the fat and sugar crystals. Stir continuously; the more it’s agitated, the shinier the chocolate will be. Tip: Stir until your arms hurt, then stir some more.
  • Lower The Temperature
    • Stir until the chocolate gets down to about 90°F, for white chocolate stir until it reaches about 88°F.
    • This may take about awhile depending on how large your chocolate batch is.
  • How To Test If It’s Tempered
    • When the chocolate has reached about 88-90°F, test by smearing a small amount of chocolate onto parchment paper and placing it in the fridge to set.
    • If chocolate doesn’t set after a few minutes then it is not tempered yet-keep stirring. It should set in 2-5 minutes, white chocolate takes about 5-8 minutes. Once set, snap the chocolate. If it has a nice snap, the chocolate is tempered.
    • While waiting for the test chocolate, let the bowl of chocolate sit. If you agitate the chocolate at this point the temperature will lower. Don’t risk the temperature lowering if it’s perfectly tempered.
  • Begin Dipping
    • When chocolate has passed the tempered test, you can now start to dip your goodies into the chocolate. Tip: For perfect chocolate covered strawberries, use and ice water bath. Carefully place dipped strawberries into a bowl of cold water and ice, let sit for a few minutes. Remove strawberries from the ice water and let dry on paper towels.
    • If the chocolate sets up too quickly for you to work with, you can re-warm it very carefully over the double boiler or in the microwave—but don’t go over 92°F!
  • Problems
    • The chocolates are sticky or soft to the touch after several minutes in the refrigerator; chocolate is not tempered. Keep stirring chocolate to get the temperature down. Once it’s reached the correct temperature, test again. You should be fine.
    • The chocolates are firm and shiny but look streaky; chocolate is probably not completely tempered. You need to stir it more, the more you agitate the chocolate, and the shinier it’ll be. Tip: If your arm hasn’t fallen off, you haven’t stirred the chocolate enough.
    • The chocolate doesn’t set up even after you’ve gotten it down to the correct temperature and stirred until your arm has fallen off. Please don’t hurt me but….. you should start over. Chocolate is very finicky! Perfect indoor temperature, humidity, and many other factors are out of your control yet can have an adverse effect on how chocolate decides to temper, or not temper. Tip: Practice makes perfect, and once you do get it, which you will, it’ll be that much more rewarding.

Now that you have know hot to temper chocolate at home, now you should make some yummy goodies! Like Perfect Chocolate Covered Strawberries, Chocolate Covered Bacon and other Unique Chocolate Covered Foods.

I have condensed all my chocolate tempering information down to 4 simple steps on the recipe card below. This card will come in handy when you need to re-jog your memory before you start melting chocolate.

4 Easy Steps to Chocolate Tempering

by By The Spoonful


1. Chop your chocolate into small pieces, reserving 1/3 for seeding. Melt 2/3 of it to about 115-118°F depending on what type of chocolate you’re melting.

2. Remove the melted chocolate from the heat and stir with a rubber spatula while seeding with the 1/3 reserved chocolate.

3. When the chocolate has reached about 88-90°F, test on a knife or spoon, placing it in the fridge to set.

4. Once temper has been achieved, start dipping! The chocolate can be warmed slightly to 92°F to make it easier to work with.

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