Using Tempered Chocolate
I have a couple of questions about using tempered chocolate.
I want to make chocolate shells using high-quality bittersweet chocolate, which is obviously tempered. Rather than melting and re-tempering it, I would like to preserve its existing temper.
Do I understand correctly that if I just heat it to 89-90 degrees, the temper will be preserved and I'll be able to use it for making shells?
My second related question: I came across this sentence in your "Tempering Chocolate Guidelines"
. "Stir the chocolate occasionally while you are working with it, to keep the chocolate on the sides from cooling and going out of temper."
This is very confusing to me - if the chocolate is tempered at working temperature (presumably, 86-90 degrees), how can it 'go out of temper' when it cools?
Sorry I'm only now getting a chance to answer your questions about using tempered chocolate. It may perhaps be too late for your project, but your questions were good ones so I thought the answers might help someone else out in the future, so I'll do my best.
First of all, yes, you should be able to use the high quality chocolate without having to temper it if you are careful not to overheat it when melting. You just want to get
the chocolate warm enough to soften it without it really losing it's shape. Once you stir it, of course, it will then lose its shape and melt, but if it melts from the straight heat, you've probably got the chocolate too hot and will lose the original temper.
Regarding the second question of keeping the chocolate warm so that it doesn't lose its temperature...
You don't want the tempered chocolate to cool until you are done using it. You want the temperature to stay within the recommended range for the type of chocolate you are using:
88-90°F. for dark chocolate
86-88°F. for milk chocolate
80-82°F. for white chocolate
I'm not big on understanding science myself, but there is science behind why tempering works the way it does. It has to do with the temperature at which different types of fat crystals form - loose crystals and firm crystals.
If you end up with loose crystals, the chocolate will melt more easily and won't have that beautiful tempered finish.
Hope that clarifies some of the confusion about using tempered chocolate. I did update the page on tempering chocolate
to try and eliminate some of the confusion for others in future.
Were you able to get your chocolate shells made successfully using tempered chocolate? I hope so!