How to temper chocolate

If you want to melt chocolate to make decorations or moulds, you need to temper it. If you don't, the chocolate won't have a lovely shiny finish; in fact it will look quite matt like this one here. Tempering is controlling the temperature of the chocolate as you melt it, ensuring that the sugar crystals within the chocolate stay consistently small resulting in a very shiny chocolate that has a really satisfying snap.

I'm going to show you how to temper chocolate using a microwave; now you could also place the chocolate in a bowl over a pan of simmering water but the microwave is the safest method. If the chocolate comes into contact with the water, it'll ruin it. I've also got a thermometer to check the temperature of the chocolate as I'm tempering it.

So let's get started. I'm going to use 300g of premium dark chocolate drops. These work well because they melt easily. Put one third, or 100g, into a microwave-safe bowl and melt on full power for one minute. I'm using an 850 watt microwave but if your microwave is more or less powerful, you adjust this time by 15 seconds either way.

Stir well and then heat again for another 20 seconds. Keep heating in short burst of 20 seconds until the temperature rises to 48 degrees centigrade. Then gradually add the remaining chocolate; doing this is going to reduce the temperature. Continue stirring all the time to ensure the chocolate is smooth and lump free. We want the chocolate to be around 28 degrees C. And you can test whether it's tempered by dipping a spoon into the chocolate; after a few minutes it will set and it should be shiny.

Okay, so let me show you a really great way to use your tempered chocolate by making chocolate bark. What I need to do is take a baking tray lined with baking paper and spoon on some of this lovely chocolate. Spread out with a palette knife and top with some chopped pistachios, cranberries, almonds and honeycomb, then allow to set. It can then be broken into shards, packaged into small bags making the perfect edible gift.

And there you have it, perfectly tempered chocolate.

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