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 šŸ˜€

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. Ā 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 underĀ a certainĀ 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?Ā 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 useĀ 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. Ā 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 theĀ tabling method

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

Completely melt your chocolate. Ā 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 middleĀ keep doing thisĀ until you getĀ ribbons on top.Ā  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 toĀ 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.Ā 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 aĀ 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 Ann.
    I watched your chocolate video and appreciated all the tips.
    I recently tempered some milk chocolate. I melted in a double boiler to 110 degrees, got down to 84. I meant to heat it only a short time but it went up to 117. I place in an ice bath and seeded it. It took 30 + minutes to do this. Way too long. I went on to use it to coat my truffles and it was setting up before I could get the truffles on the sheet pan. They look good for several hours and are firm. But then I noticed a “light” cast. Did I burn all of the crystals?
    Thank you for your insight.

    • Hi Rolanda, it is either a sugar or fat bloom, that shows the chocolate wasn’t tempered properly, as you have described anyway. The chocolate is still edible but doesn’t look right.

  2. I had not tempered some dark cooking chocolate and to my great surprise, the cooking chocolate sets firmly to room temperature and has a good shine.

  3. Hi Ann!!! Thank you for your lovely recipes and a special thanks for sharing all the tricks on how to temper chocolate.
    I tried tempering at home (using a double boiler and then the seeding method), and although the chocolate was set nicely and the truffles were shiny, they were melting once I was touching them. Maybe I didn’t let the chocolate cool down to 31 Celcious before using it? Any thoughts or advice?
    Many many thanks in advance.

    • Hi Magda Che, if it is melting as soon as you touch it then it probably isn’t tempered properly and you have possibly used it to soon. Tempered chocolate will melt if it is handled though. This is why you people who work with chocolate a lot will use silicon gloves.

      • Hi Ann!!
        Thank you for the quick response! I will give it another try then and wait a bit to cool down before i use it.

  4. Hi Ann,

    I was just wondering if it is possible to finely chop the chocolate as opposed to grating it? I’m wanting to make your giant mars bar (which requires quite a bit of tempered chocolate!) so was wondering if this faster method of chopping the chocolate would still give the same result?

    Thank you!
    Joanne šŸ™‚

    • Hi Joanne, If you wish to temper the chocolate in the microwave you will need to grate it. If doing a large quantity a food processor will be a great help. You could always choose a different tempering method if you don’y have a food processor to do the grating for you.

  5. So can we add coco butter to compound dark chocolate to make it better

  6. How I can make a simple chocolate with cocoa powder?Sorry for my grammar mistakes. (I’m not from USA or UK)

  7. Hey Ann, I was wondering what brand of white chocolate you use? Thanks!

  8. Hello! Amazing tutorial thank you! I have been using the freeze dried cocoa butter method with dark chocolate and getting great results – do I add in the cocoa butter at 97F for milk and white chocolate as well, or at a different temperature?
    Thanks in advance, Elise

    • Hi Elise, Use the same temperature for milk and white chocolate as well.

  9. Hi Ann, could I use Crisco or vegetable shortening to thin out my tempered chocolate?

    • Hi Sebastian, to thin out real chocolate use cocoa butter. If you add crisco or shortening it will no longer be real chocolate and won’t need to tempered and can’t be tempered.

  10. how can i make my chocolate taste good if it is burnt

    • Sorry but there is no way to fix burnt chocolate.

  11. You’ve said fake chocolates will not need tempering. But will it have shine and snap? If not, is there a way we can bring shine n snap factor in them?

    • Hi Sindhura, the shine and snap of real chocolate is something Ann loves. That’s why she prefers using real chocolate.

  12. Lovely informTion, but there is one thing , u didn’t mission it , can we use oven to temper real chocolate ? cause I don’t have a microwave and we don’t have freeze powder , I prefer to make like a golden roles for temper chocolate and for melting chocolate as a point, when we use, for what and the porous to use , thanks and best regards

    Note : I’m addict of chocolate especially gourmet chocolate ( love with Swiss and French chocolate )

    • Hi Fawaz, it would be near impossible t temper chocolate in the oven as they tend to heat unevenly and yu would need to be constantly stirring the mix.

  13. Hi there, I’ve been wondering if it is possible to “fix” UN-tempered chocolate. That is I’ve melted it and it obviously isn’t tempered correctly as it is just not setting. Can I reheat it and then try my hand at tempering again using the seeding/ tabling method? Or is it lost and better to make into sauce/ ganache?

    And, how many times can I heat up and temper the chocolate? I’ve found that (when I actually do temper my chocolate correctly) it sometimes goes cold and starts setting in the bowl before I am done working.

    And (last one, promise), I find white chocolate almost impossible to work with and in one of the truffle videos you suggest using half real chocolate and half compound for the white chocolate. Do you have any additional tips on this for me please?

    Thanks for your fantastic tutorials, you are a brilliant teacher!

    • Hi Mandy, Yes you can temper the chocolate again if you have taken it out of temper, as long as it is not burnt (grainy). If it is setting I usually reheat a portion of it and then stir it back in rather than reheating the whole thing. I have found that better quality white chocolate with a higher portion of cocoa butter tempers well. Check in the shops does the bar feel soft or crisp.

      • Hi Ann,

        I was trying to make the chocolate pencils and paper using tempered chocolate but it kept melting as soon as i took it out of the freezer so how could i do that without it melting as soon as i take it out of the freezer?

        • Hi Maria, If the chocolate is melting so quickly it is likely it is not tempered properly. Tempering choclate heps it set at room temperature. All chocolate will melt in a warm environment though.

  14. Hi Ann,
    I absolutely love your tutorials!
    Just wondering if you know of a chocolate wholesale supplier in Melbourne (or online) where I can buy larger amounts of real chocolate (and not compound chocolate). I’m planning to give truffles as gift on Xmas and cant buy it all at normal supermarket. It would cost me a fortune!

    • Elaine, do you have a whole saler near you? Here in nz we have Gilmores so I don’t know what the equivalent is in Australia but you would be able to buy heaps there lots cheaper than your regular supermarket. I normally get mine in 10kg lots (I love baking and do loads of it so always have to have chocolate!) and I pay around $120 for it.

      • Hi Mandy, thanks for your tip!
        I have Googled wholesalers here and will contact some to check their prices.
        Hopefully I get a deal as good as yours!

  15. Hi, your videos are great, thank you! I have several questions … What if I’m using raw cacao butter and powder with a bit of coconut oil? Should I just temper the cacao butter by itself? Raw cacao butter is solid at room temp/in the store, does that mean it’s already tempered? And if so, will melting it in a dehydrator at a low temp maintain that temper? When do I add the cacao powder? And can I then also add a small amount of coconut oil and have it maintain temper? Thank you in advance!

    • Hi Angie, If you are adding any fat other than cocoa butter, then treat it as fake chocolate and do not worry about tempering it.

  16. This video was so helpful! Thank you so much! I have another question though. Do you have to first grate small chocolate chips (that contain cocoa butter) to temper them or can you just temper them immediately using a microwave?

    • Hi Alicia, You will get a better result by grating, as you don’t risk over heating the chocolate and sending them out of temper.

  17. You are the biggest fans of mine!!!!!!!!!! Your chocolate are so perfect. Where did you buy that?

  18. Your recipies are all perfect and that looks so yummmy

  19. Hi Ann!
    I know that you get tons and tons of chocolate questions per day, so sorry for asking another one! Is there a way to tell once the chocolate is melted if you have successfully tempered it by looking at it? Or is the best and only way to tell, to wait until it goes firm?

    • Hi Zoya, Ann has suggested dipping a piece of baking paper in the chocolate, put it aside on the bench. The chocolate should cool and set within 5 minutes. If it doesn’t set, it isn’t tempered.

  20. Hi Ann,
    At the end of my tempering when my dark chocolate reaches 32C
    it is very thick and hard to work with .
    Is there a way to thinner the temped chocolate ?
    I’m using real chocolate with 40% solids.

    • Hi Vigo, Ann suggests thinning your chocolate by adding more coco butter.

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