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. I seem to have a lot of trouble with sugar bloom. This last time I was incredibly careful to not get any water anywhere near the chocolate! But I cam in the next day and it had some white speckles on it. Could it just be from humidity in the kitchen? the “shock” i am about 80% sure its sugar bloom and not fat bloom because of the pattern of the bloom and because the chocolate had a nice snap and a good temper (or at least iu thought it did.

    • I meant to say the shock of going from the refrigerator to the kitchen*

    • Hi Dilyn, this can be if some of the chocolate was not quite tempered and you have streaks, make sure you use a spatula to stir, scrape down he sides of the bowl and scrape the chocolate off the spatula regularly to make sure it is evenly mixed before you pour it.

  2. Hi Ann, Thank you for the informative videos about tempering chocolate and the new chocolate decorations. Really inspiring. I have followed your advice and exact instructions to temper real chocolate (yes, with cocoa butter) and tried to create chocolate wave decoration but with no success. I have tried it once with cooled marble (in freezer overnight) slab and the chocolate cooled to quickly so it was not flexible to form the wave. It did separate from the marble slab and was snapy. During the second time I have tried it with non cooled marble slab. This time the chocolate seized (no water involved) and all I got was chocolate shaving as it did not separate from the marble slab. At what temperature do you heat the chocolate in the microwave? it took me 6 rounds of 10 seconds heating(at P100) until the chocolate became pasty (and not liquify as in your video). How can I improve the process to get these beautiful wave decorations? thank you and looking forward to your reply. Kind regards, Dror

  3. do i have to use freeze dried cocoa powder or can i use fresh?

    • Hi Lital, It needs to be tempered, the freeze dried cocoa powder is – you’d just need to check if the fresh cocoa butter that you have is in temper – you are wanting the melted chocolate to follow the crystal structure in the cocoa butter that you are adding.

  4. What’s the ratio of freeze dried cocoa powder to chocolate? Or is it just a teaspoon across the board? (Dark or milk chocolate only, not white, if that makes a difference).

  5. What candy thermometer do you use

  6. Hi Ann, I am from India. Mam i want to know, how we have to RETEMPER our chocolate, if once it go wrong.because we have meilted chocolate with us when first time we wasn’t tempered it properly.(its not getting heard, snapy) please help me.

    • Hi poornima gupta. To retemper chocolate, you will need to to use the tabling method or adding the freeze-dried cocoa powder method as listed on this page.

  7. What is the standard temperature for tempering chocolate ?

    • Hi Sammiie, there is a process for tempering chocolate rather than a set temperature. You will need to heat it to the recommended temperature then col it to a recommended second temperature and then warm it again to another temperature. The required temperatures vary depending whether you are using dark, milk or white chcolate.

  8. I canā€™t find the Chocolate camera template. Where can I find

  9. I canā€™t find the camera template where can I downloaded

  10. In your chocolate secrets video, you show a method of tempering the chocolate using freeze dried cocoa butter, but did not mention how much chocolate was in the bowl. So how much chocolate is required for one teaspoon of freeze dried cocoa butter. A reply would be extremely helpful if possible.

  11. Hi Ann, I tried melting some compound dark chocolate and making some chocolate barks. However, at room temperature it’s still sort of soft and it doesn’t snap. I tried freezing it and it got hard, but just wanna check whether I can get a good snap effect with compound chocolate or must I use real chocolate?

    • Hi Khee Wei, compound chocolate will set firm without being tempered. It has a higher melting point so it doesn’t melt in your mouth as well -so you don’t taste as much chocolate flavour.

  12. Hi Ann,
    I am from India, I used Morde Dark chocolate , for making the chocolate. But the chocolate doesnot hardens at room temp. But it hardens in fridge, and while demoulding the chocolate it again starts to melt. I have followed seeding method as u mentioned for tempering but its not working. Also the chocolate doesnt remains flowy after adding piece of dark chocolate to the melted chocolate. Please help me Ann

    • Hi Nikkieta, It sounds like your chocolate went out of temper. It most likely overheated at some point. I suggest using a better quality chocolate. This is a brand that is great for melting but doesn’t have the coco butter content suitable for great tempered chocolate. Use one that has cocoa solids and cocoa butter as the main ingredients, rather than sugar. Try again with a smaller quantity being careful not to overheat it. See if you can get better results.

  13. As you said chocolate with cocoa butter is real and chocolate with vegetable fat is fake, what if the packaging said the chocolate contain both cocoa butter and vegetable fat?

  14. Hi, I have found a shop in Sydney that supplies the freeze dried cocoa butter. It is called F.Mayer Imports and it is near Sydney International Airport. Just encase anyone wanted to know šŸ™‚

    • Thanks Charlotte.

  15. I have purchased a chocolate which does not include cocoa butter or vegetable fat, how do I know if this is fake or real chocolate? I have provided a picture of the ingredients

    • Hi Shabnaz, Labeling guideline differ greatly but it is generally understood that Cocoa mass should contain cocoa butter and the non-fat solids from cocoa production. Usually it is in proportions of at least 50% cocoa butter to solids. So I would say that likely have real chocolate here. It has other additives in the mix as well.

      • Would I have to temper this chocolate?

        • Yes you will need to ?

          • Thankyou for your help’! šŸ™‚

  16. Hi Mitzi, I am sorry but we are not aware of what is locally available in Mexico. Best to ask at a local bakery or cake decorating store.

  17. Hi I have a question see how if you use the cocoa powder method is there a certain ratio of chocolate to powder you add or do you just add one teaspoon of cooca powder to any amount of chocolate that you are trying to temper

    • Hi Nidah, You are just seeding the mix, so you only need a small amount to get the process underway. This is fine for a small amount of chocolate you might use for a dessert or to make a batch of my truffles.

  18. I tried to make your chocolate feathers and am using compound white chocolate but it wont go hard in room temperature and as soon as i take it out of the fridge it melts back to a liquid
    Please help what can i do to stop it melting

    • Hi Sarah, It sounds like you are using real chocolate – if you want compound check the ingredients definitely say vegetable fat and not cocoa butter

  19. Hi! i super love your show and your chocolate recipes and everything! i was wondering though, you mentioned in this episode that ‘benching’ will temper chocolate because you keep it moving as it cools. can i do the same thing by stirring it constantly in a bowl or in a stand mixer on the lowest setting until it gets thick? would this temper the chocolate properly or should i stick to buying a decent thermometer and ‘seeding’ the chocolate instead?

    • Hi Krista, Tabling chocolate to temper it allows the bonds to form in the chocolate that will give the shiny crisp finish we like. Usually a baker would table a portion of the chocolate on a cool surface and use it to then to seed the remainder. You can do as you suggest and let the mix cool naturally but keep mixing it as it goes. The challenger will still be to ensure that you get it to the right temperature and don’t let it overheat. You will find a host of instructions about this on the web. Then you will need to to take into account the impact of the ambient room temperature.

  20. Hi Ann, looking for compound chocolate to make your chocolate butterflies decoration. Can’t seem to find vegetable fats under the ingredients, instead I found Vegetable Oil. Is Vegatable Oil the same as Vegetable Fats?

    • Hi Sophia, yes it can be written as fats or oils. This is compound chocolate but Just check if the purpose of this product, some chocolate chips are made to hold their shape when heated in the oven and so won’t melt easily at all. You want cooking chocolate or chocolate melt that you can mold to any shape you want.

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