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TEMPERING COCOA BUTTER
FREE LESSON ON TEMPERING USING DIFFERENT METHODS
This tutorial is devoted to cocoa butter tempering.
We use tempered cocoa butter to colour moulds. It's tempered cocoa butter which crystallises in a stable form and makes our moulded chocolates incredibly beautiful and glossy.
It doesn't matter what you use for colouring (an airbrush, a paintbrush, or any other tool). Each cocoa butter colour must be tempered at every single stage of colouring.
We single out two main methods used for cocoa butter tempering: a classic one and tempering with creamy cocoa butter.
CLASSIC METHOD OF TEMPERING COCOA BUTTER
What's the essence of the classic tempering method?
We melt cocoa butter: it doesn't matter how you melt it. Using a microwave or in the oven.
We melt cocoa butter to the temperature of 40–45°C (104–122℉). By melting cocoa butter to a given temperature we destroy all crystals and crystal binding.
Next, we cool down the cocoa butter to 26–27°C (78.8–80.6ºF). Stable crystals form at this temperature allowing cocoa butter to crystallise in a stable form.
After cooling, we heat cocoa butter to the working temperature at which we will use this cocoa butter for colouring. The working temperature is 29–30°C (84.2–86℉).
40–45°C ︎︎︎ 26–27°C ︎︎︎ 29–30°C
Let's look at this tempering method in practice. I've heated the cocoa butter to the temperature range of 40–45°C (104–122℉) in the microwave.
Let's cool it down with the help of water with ice. I put the container with the cocoa butter in the bowl of water and, constantly stirring it with a brush and controlling the temperature, wait until it cools down.
When I see that the cocoa butter has reached the required temperature in the range of 26–27°C (78.8–80.6ºF), I take the container out of the bowl of water, wipe it dry with a napkin and heat to the working temperature with a hair dryer.
The cocoa butter is ready for use.
This tempering method is quick and easy. But what if you don't have any ice?
We melt cocoa butter in a microwave oven to the temperature in the range of 40–45°C (104–122℉). And to cool it down, we use a separate container, preferably a metal one, or you can grab a glass bowl. Then we pour the cocoa butter in this container and stir it with a spatula for cooling.
After it has reached the required temperature, we pour it back into the container and bring to the working temperature with a hairdryer.
TEMPERING WITH CREAMY COCOA BUTTER (OR SILK COCOA BUTTER)
The second tempering method involves creamy cocoa butter. It is often called cocoa butter silk. Before we move on with this method, let me tell you a little more about what creamy cocoa butter is and how to make it.
Creamy cocoa butter is made of ordinary cocoa butter callets with the help of a special machine. In essence, cocoa butter callets are held at a certain temperature for a long period of time. The temperature at which callets are held is slightly lower than the temperature of stable crystals. The temperature is 33.5–33.8°C (92.3–92.84°F).
Being held at this temperature for a long time, cocoa butter callets soften and end up with a creamy smooth texture and gloss. It is the gloss which gave creamy cocoa butter its second name “cocoa butter silk”.
If you are interested in the equipment used for the production of cocoa butter silk, the most well-known are EZtemper and Magic Temper. They are from Spanish and American manufacturers. Lots of other options have appeared on the market for the last couple of years. You can search and find a cheaper and more affordable option for your region.
Let's move on to the essence of this method. Melt cocoa butter to the temperature range of 40–45°C (104–122℉). Then let's just wait until the temperature drops to 32.5–33.5°C (90.5–92.3℉). At this temperature we add 1% cocoa butter silk.
Mix thoroughly. Thanks to the texture of the cocoa butter silk, it's very easy to mix it in the tempered cocoa butter. We work at 29–30°C (84.2–86℉).
40–45°C ︎︎︎ 32.5–33.5°C +1% silk ︎︎︎ 29–30°C
HOW TO TEST IF COCOA BUTTER IS WELL-TEMPERED OR NOT
We can do a simple test to make sure the cocoa butter is well-tempered. Shed a drop of the cocoa butter on the table and observe how it crystallises. Stable cocoa butter crystallises much quicker than melted cocoa butter.
Give it 1–2 minutes and you will see how the drop is becoming matte. You will observe the crystallisation phase. The drop is not sticky. It means that the cocoa butter is ready. Don't forget about the working temperature. Get down to colouring.
What can we do if the cocoa butter failed our stability test?
If it's been 2 minutes and you see that the cocoa butter is not even close to being crystallised, temper it once again. When I say 'temper it once again', I mean that we need start over from the very first temperature. We melt cocoa butter and follow the above-mentioned instructions.
THE PERFECT AMBIENT TEMPERATURE
The ambient temperature is important not only during the tempering process, but during the entire process of moulded chocolates creation. If you want to get a great result, stick to it. The perfect ambient temperature is 18–20ºC (64.4–68ºF).
You should always keep in mind the ambient temperature. It's the temperature in the room where you temper cocoa butter, do a stability test, colour chocolates and, in general, where the full cycle of chocolate production happens.
You can temper cocoa butter and do everything perfectly, but the stability test can fail. One reason is possible. It's too hot in the room you are working in.
THE WORKING TEMPERATURE
After we have tempered the cocoa butter, we use it at the temperature range of 29–30°C (84.2–86℉). Maintain this temperature while you continue using this cocoa butter. If you overheat it, it will become overtempered. If it gets too cold, it will crystallise, and we will have to temper it again.
STORING COCOA BUTTER
After we have finished working with a particular colour, leave the cocoa butter in the container. It will crystallise in it. You can store it at room temperature until the next use. And don't forget to temper it every time you need this cocoa butter. You can temper cocoa butter as many times as you want.
You can prepare cocoa butter of different colours and in large amounts. And, depending on the needs, break off a piece of a coloured cocoa butter, temper it and use it.
TEMPERING UNCOLOURED COCOA BUTTER
If you prefer uncoloured cocoa butter, it is tempered the same way. Follow the instructions for coloured cocoa butter depending on the tempering method.
If cocoa butter doesn't crystallise quick enough, i.e. if it looks like cocoa butter in its unstable form, and the required ambient temperature is maintained, then, most likely, such cocoa butter is not tempered.
I've encountered such a case just once. I failed at tempering one colour of cocoa butter. I tempered it several times, again and again. I ended up melting a new portion of cocoa butter, colouring it in the same colour, and somehow it tempered well. But the probability of such a case is very low.
The probability that you temper cocoa butter correctly and the conditions required for crystallisation are observed and the cocoa butter doesn't crystallise is still very-very low. The chances of that are one in a billion. And it is difficult to explain such cases.