Ann Reardon

Chocolate Secrets Revealed

how to temper chocolate decorations

Everyday on How To Cook That there are hundreds of comments, requests and questions. Lately there has been a groundswell of questions all about chocolate. What chocolate should I use? How do I temper it? Can I temper in a double boiler? What is tempered chocolate? This video reveals the answer to all of your chocolate questions so you can make beautiful truffles, giant chocolate bars and chocolate decorations at home.


How I can find out if I have fake chocolate or real chocolate?
If it contains cocoa butter it is real chocolate
If it contains vegetable fat then it is compound or fake chocolate.

Can you eat fake chocolate?
Yes you can 😀

If I have to temper chocolate is it real or fake?
Real chocolate or chocolate that contains cocoa butter needs tempering. Fake or compound chocolate does not need tempering.

What is the difference between tempering and melting your chocolate?
If you just melt it and then leave it at room temperature it doesn’t set (see the video for an explanation and footage of the difference)
Tempering allows it to set at room temperature and gives it a good shine and snap.

chocolate truffles video recipe

Tempering in the microwave

One cheats way is just to keep it in temper. Finely grate chocolate put it into a microwave safe plastic bowl, and microwave on high heat for 20 seconds then stir, 10 seconds and stir, 10 seconds, 10 seconds stir.  See video for explanation of how this works.

How do you know if you’ve overheated it? Is there a certain temperature it could not go past?
That’s correct you need to keep it under a certain temperature, after that it will melt the cocoa butter completely. The temperature is different for milk, dark and white see the video for more information.

Instead of grating the chocolate could I use powdered chocolate? Like ovaltine or nesquick? Can I use nutella? hersheys syrup?
These are chocolate flavoured, but they are not chocolate. You can’t use them to make chocolate decorations.

What if you don’t have a microwave, can you use a double boiler?
You can’t use a double boiler to keep it in temper because it makes that chocolate too hot and melts all the cocoa butter particles. But you can use one of the methods below to temper it instead.

chocolate birds nest

Tempering chocolate using freeze dried cocoa powder

See the video at the top of this post for a demonstration
Completely melt your chocolate either in the microwave or over a double boiler.
Then cool it until it comes down to about 97F (36.11 degrees Celsius), this took about 10 minutes. Use a candy thermometer to check the temperature.

Add in a teaspoon of the freeze dried cocoa butter per 200g (7.05 ounces) of chocolate and stir it though.  You can purchase freeze dried cocoa powder here, it is not cheap but you don’t need much.

If you add it when the chocolate is too hot you will completely melt the cocoa butter particles so it won’t help temper it at all. If you add it when it is too cold the freeze dried cocoa butter won’t mix in and you’ll get little white dots on your chocolates.

chocolate scrabble how to cook that ann reardon

Tempering chocolate using the tabling method

See the video at the top of this post for a demonstration

Completely melt your chocolate.  Tip out 2/3 of your chocolate onto a cool surface, stone or marble are best (melamine will not work as it is not cool enough).
Spread out the chocolate to cool it down and then bring it back into the middle keep doing this until you get ribbons on top.  Scrape it into the bowl with the rest of the chocolate stir through.

chocolate peanut dessert recipe reardon

Tempering chocolate using block seeding

See the video at the top of this post for demonstration

Melt your chocolate, cool to 97F (36.11 degrees Celsius) then add in a chunk of tempered chocolate. Keep stirring it around with the chunk in it until it comes down to about around 91F (32.78 degrees Celsius) then take out the chunk and you’re good to go.

Do we need to temper compound chocolate?

No compound chocolate does not need tempering you can melt it in the microwave or double boiler, spread it out or mold it and it will set at room temperature and have a nice shine. It is very easy to use.

Can we just use compound or fake chocolate for everything?
Yes you can but it does not taste as good as real chocolate.

What can go wrong?

Seized chocolate
If you get water in your chocolate it will seize. Your only hope is to add more liquid like cream or milk and stir it in then push it through a fine sieve to make a ganache instead.

Burnt chocolate
If you don’t stir or overheat your chocolate it can burn. When it is starting to burn it will go into a thick crumbly paste – if you keep heating it will go black and start to smoke.

by Ann Reardon How To Cook That

My Cookbook

ann reardon crazy sweet creations cookbook
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All recipe quantities in the book are in grams, ounces and cups.

256 Comments View Comments

  1. Hi anne,Can you make a chocolat hersheys bar?

  2. I tried to follow the the instructions with chocolate chips, but it didn’t really work. I’m keeping the truffles in the freezer. Are chocolate chips no good because of the soy lecithin?

    • Hi Carin, What are you chocolate chips? The term can mean different things. Are they real chocolate or something else? What method did you use to prepare it and what were you trying to do with it.

  3. Can you do a video on how to make chocolate from scratch and then to temper that chocolate and use it for a simple truffle? Pleassssseeee!! Thank youuu! Xxx

  4. Can you use the grating method on white chocolate?

    • Yes you can K.

  5. Hi im from worland Wyoming and iwas wondering if you can always melt your chocolate in the microwave or if you alway have to melt it on the stove. If im going to do the tempret chocolate can i do it in a microwave

  6. Do you have to use a specific type or brand of chocolate

    • Hi Thomas, Ann uses a variety of brands and of course brands vary from country to country. The best ioption is to experiment with what is readily available to you in the local area.

  7. You don’t get lollipop sticks here so what can you use rather than that ann help

  8. Hi…I want ask you one ques…it is real or fake chocolate If the chocolate contains cocoa butter substitutes?

    • Hi Siveyogini, Anything that uses a cocoa butter substitute would be fake chocolate.

  9. Ann, thanks to your easy to follow explanation of all the different chocolates ,I started to use chocolate. I made red modeling chocolate roses, free hand chocolate designs, and chocolate ganach. I called it Death By Chocolate and was a huge hit with the fresh strawberry middle. Thanks so much 🙂

    • Hi Sheiba, You have done an amazing job. The roses look fabulous.

  10. Hello Ann ,

    what is the best chocolate to use for truffles ? and what to use fake chocolate or real chocolate to get good and un-melted truffles

  11. I’m new to your site but my two boys are obsessed with you! As a result I’ve been asked to make them the giant kit kat for their birthday- my question is, how far in advance can I make this?

    • Hi Josephine, Ann thinks you could make it up to a week in advance!

  12. can you melt different chocolate together?
    and what you do is sooooo AMAZING!!!!!! 😀 😉 🙂 🙂 😀

    • Hi Leli, You can. Melt the compound chocolate first as it has the higher melting point and then add the real chocolate and heat a little more.

  13. Is it possible to melt chocolate over a double boiler with a candy thermometer, but keeping it under the right temperature so it will stay in temper?

    • Hi Laura, That should be fine!

  14. Hi Ann I saw your video about chocolate.I want to do the block seeding.Is it ok to not use a candy thermometer and just eye ball it?

    • Hi ysabellamari, You could try but there is no way of knowing if you are hitting the right temperatures.

      • Hello~
        I tempered chocolate over the weekend, and since i don’t have a candy thermometer, i eye balled it, and it came out in temper. (somehow) Here’s what i did:
        Melt the chocolate fully (i melted dark chocolate in the microwave)
        Set a timer for 10 minutes and stir the chocolate constantly the entire time.
        Once 10 minutes is up, add your block of chocolate and stir until the chocolate feels the same temperature or cooler than the tip of you finger.
        Use within about 5 minutes, as the chocolates sets fairly quickly. (it will be a rather thick consistency)
        ~I hope this helps!

  15. Hey Ann, I have problems trying to subscribe the site says i did but its not in my inbox or junk 🙁 please help!

    • Hi Anya, I will forward your comment to tech support to see if we can resolve the problem.

  16. Hello Ann
    I would like to ask that I’ve brought chocolate nestle chocolate melts and and at the back it says compound chocolate is that all I need or do I need to add glucose into my chocolate to make decorations.

  17. Hello Ann,

    I’m not sure if this question has been asked or not; but can you use chocolate chips like nestle townhouse morsels to temper? The reason I ask is because I’ve been trying to temper these all weekend and they don’t seem to work. They contain cocoa butter but just don’t seem to be setting up

  18. I have white chocolate and I want to make not to thin shapes that Ican leave out from the freezer, should I temper it just like milk chocolate or it is a different way?
    Greetings from Chile

  19. Hi Ann! I’m a big How to cook that fan! I was making some chocolate truffles and my real chocolate hardened. Can I re-temper my chocolate?

    • Hi Isabella. You can retemper the chocolate.

    • Thanks, Isabella. That was my question too! And Thanks, Ann for answering it!! 🙂

  20. Hey, Which real chocolate would you recommend in Australia to get that taste good and give a really good snap, tried Cadbury as I like it but it doesn’t snap or set as hard as I would like. Thanks 🙂

    • Hi Melissa, Ann suggests maybe trying a darker chocolate, as it tends to be harder and give a good snap!

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