Have you ever made chocolate covered fruit or homemade peanut butter cups and wondered why the chocolate you’ve melted A) doesn’t set or B) has to be kept in the refrigerator to keep from being a melty mess? That’s because your chocolate wasn’t tempered. Tempered chocolate sets at room temperature and has a snap just like a chocolate bar you buy from the store. Though I’ve known about the method and reasoning to temper chocolate for a long while, I was always too intimidated to try it! The process seemed simple enough, but I know how finicky chocolate can be. And I hated the thought of potentially wasting time and delicious chocolate resources!
But for Halloween this year, I wanted to temper some dark chocolate to create a simple sprinkle bark for me and my toddler to snack on. The tempering process took a couple of tries to get right, but the good thing about chocolate is that, as long as it’s not burnt, it can be re-melted! And having some back up chocolate on hand will ease your mind (and the tempering process) too. I learned the below method from Ghirardelli and I hope you find it as simple as I did! Because we all deserve chocolate bark made from nothing but real chocolate.
Here’s what you’ll need to temper chocolate:
Let’s break down the steps for tempering chocolate:
- Grate or finely chop your chocolate. The method that worked for me was to use my knife to “shave” the chocolate. I chopped the chocolate extremely thin to create shavings. Starting at one end of the chocolate bar, and then finishing it all up by chopping cross-wise. You want the chocolate chopped in as small of pieces as possible.
- Place 2/3 of your finely chopped chocolate into a stainless steel bowl that will fit on top of your medium saucepan. Fill the saucepan with an inch of water and place over medium-low heat. You want the water to heat up but not boil. Go ahead and lay your bowl of chocolate on top of the saucepan. With your candy thermometer within reach, begin stirring the chocolate until it starts to melt. While there are a few unmelted pieces left, check the temperature of your chocolate. You want your chocolate to reach 110°F-115°F but not exceed 130°F. I found that my chocolate reached this temperature before it was all totally melted.
- Remove your chocolate from the heat and place your bowl on top of a towel or hot pad holder. Continue stirring if your chocolate didn’t totally melt yet. Allow the chocolate to cool to 95°F-100°F. To speed this process up, you can gently move the chocolate around the bowl. Check the temperature of your chocolate frequently to be sure it doesn’t cool too much. The cooling process took about 6 minutes for me.
- Once your chocolate has cooled to 95°F-100°F, add in the remaining 1/3 of finely chopped chocolate and stir. It may take a while for all of the chocolate to totally melt. This is why you want your chocolate chopped as fine as possible. If your chunks are too big, they won’t melt (trust me, I did this my first go).
- Now that your chocolate is totally smooth and melted, it’s tempered! You can dip fruit, pour it into candy molds, or spread it over a piece of parchment paper to make your own chocolate bark!
Note: to test that your chocolate is tempered, you can thinly spread a small amount onto a clean surface to see if it sets/hardens. If your chocolate is not tempered/doesn’t set, then you’ll have to start over. But you can simply re-melt your chocolate, as long as you have extra chocolate on hand to finely chop and add-in to your melted chocolate like we did in step 4.
- 1/2 to 1 pound dairy-free chocolate (bar form), finely chopped
- Toppings of choice: sprinkles, nuts, dried fruit, coconut chips, etc
- Add about an inch of water to a medium saucepan; set on top of burner. Lay out a large piece of parchment paper on a flat surface - big enough to spread your bark.
- Finely chop your chocolate - the smaller the better! Add 2/3 of the chopped chocolate to a medium stainless steel bowl (one that can fit on top of your saucepan without touching the water).
- Set bowl of chopped chocolate on top of the saucepan. Turn heat to medium-low. Stir the chocolate frequently until nearly melted, checking the temperature intermittently. Once the chocolate reaches 110°F-115°F remove from the heat and place bowl on a towel. You don't want your chocolate to exceed 130°F.
- Allow your chocolate to cool to 95°F-100°F, stirring to ensure all chocolate is melted. Add in the remaining 1/3 finely chopped chocolate and stir until totally melted.
- Pour your tempered chocolate onto the parchment paper and use an icing spatula to evenly spread it into a big circle/rectangle, making it as thin or thick as you'd like. Immediately top with toppings.
- Allow chocolate to set at room temperature. Break into pieces and enjoy!
- Store leftovers in an airtight container at room temperature.
Make sure all of your bowl and utensils are totally clean and dry. Even one drop of water can ruin the batch of chocolate.