"Allons tapper du chocolat" is the literal translation of "Lets go hit some chocolate."
By "hitting" chocolate, we mean tempering the chocolate on a cold marble surface. A process that involves heating the chocolate to 45 - 50°C then dramatically cooling it to 28/29° by pouring it on a cold marble surface and working it with a spatula. Then heating it to 31/32° for use.
There are other ways of tempering chocolate for home use, such as pouring unmelted tempered chocolate in your melted mass. These techniques are good to test out if you wish to make chocolates at home.
Chocolate is tempered in order to allow the correct development of the "beta" crystals. If you have ever opened a bar of chocolate to see that it is white, this is due to an incorrect change in temperature. The cocoa butter has risen to the surface which is why the chocolate turns white or grey, often called "blooming". The chocolate may be powdery and unattractive but it is still good chocolate, it simply needs to undergo a correct temperature change in order for it to be properly tempered and at its best.
How to temper dark chocolate on a cold marble surface:
- Melt the chocolate on a bain- marie (simmering water) between 45- 50°. Remember that all chocolate has different "tempering" temperatures and it is different for dark, milk and white chocolate. View the packet before using these temperature guides.
- Pour 2/3 of the melted chocolate onto a cool marble surface.
- Keep the chocolate moving by stirring it continually with a spatula. This will avoid the bottom setting too quickly on the cold surface.
- Continue this movement until the chocolate starts to thicken. This is when crystallisation takes place.
- Pour the pre-crystallised chocolate into the rest of the melted chocolate and stir until it forms an even mixture.
Your chocolate should be at 28/29°C.
- If it is not, repeat this step.
- Re-heat the chocolate on the bain marie and use it at 31- 32°C.
The best way to view if it has been correctly tempered is to put a knife in it and see if it hardens within 3 minutes.
Chocolate does not always need to be tempered, however. For example, for this dark chocolate entremet (entremet is a word we use for layered cakes in France) the chocolate has not been tempered, but for the chocolates in the photos above, it has.
5 Reasons to temper chocolate:
1) Avoid the fat and sugar "bloom"
2) Raise the melting temperature of the chocolate (this way the chocolate will not melt in your hand as quickly)
3) Preserve the chocolate correctly
4) Give chocolate a glossy, shiny appearance and a crisp, clean snap.
5) For the texture and the best sensation en-bouche (in your mouth.)
You must temper chocolate if you are making chocolates, chocolate sculptures or dipping things in chocolate and preserving them. (For example, dried orange peel is best with tempered chocolate.)
When not to temper chocolate:
For all cakes, cookies, bars, truffles.