In Search of Beta Crystals Part II – The Wrath of Water

Couldn’t resist!

Let us continue the quest for Beta Crystals in Part II of our chocolate tempering journey.  This week we discuss the central role temperature control plays in the process of tempering chocolate.

Before we get started, a couple key facts to remember:

-          Chocolate will melt completely at anything over 115 degrees Fahrenheit.

-          The Beta Crystals that we seek tend to form when the chocolate is at a temperature around 90 degrees Fahrenheit.

-          At temperatures below 90 degrees Fahrenheit, other crystal forms will rapidly form.

-          Water and chocolate DO NOT MIX (this will become more important in next week’s installment).

The basic process for tempering chocolate is simple.  The idea is to completely melt the chocolate (raise its temperature above 115 degrees), then cool the chocolate in a way that promotes the formation of the Beta Crystals. 

One obvious solution would be to simply melt a bunch of chocolate and let it sit awhile at precisely 90 degrees until the desired crystals have formed.  This would work, but it would take forever. We all know that waiting for chocolate is the worst (that’s why we ship all of our chocolate priority mail!)

Rather than keep the chocolate at 90 degrees and wait, we first lower the temperature of the chocolate to around 81 degrees (give or take a degree).  This will promote the rapid creation of Form IV crystals – not the crystals we want, but easily transformed into Form V crystals by raising the temperature of the chocolate back up to 90 degrees. 

Mmmmmm melted chocolate

Mmmmmm melted chocolate

To sum up, the key steps in the tempering process are: 1) melt the chocolate by bringing it up to 115 degrees (don’t overheat! Chocolate will burn at temperatures above 145 degrees); 2) cool the chocolate to the low 80s; 3) raise the temperature back up to 90 degrees.

If this process is done correctly, when the chocolate cools it will have that nice chocolate bar shine and snap!

Our Chocolate cooling in a mold in Ohio.

Our Chocolate cooling in a mold in Ohio.

Who knew making chocolate was so complicated? It sounds like you need a lab to temper chocolate, but you don’t!

Join us next week for the exciting conclusion of our quest for Beta Crystals when we will teach you several ways that you can temper chocolate right at home!