We hate to admit it, but chocolate is cranky. It is extremely sensitive
to heat and humidity, it burns easily, and must be coaxed into performing
by careful regulation of its temperature. This precise heating and
cooling process, which gives chocolate its characteristic glossiness and
"snap," is known as tempering.
Chocolate is rich in cocoa butter, which is polymorphic (it crystallizes
in several forms as it solidifies, only one of which, the "B" form, is
stable). The tempering process affects the crystalline structure of cocoa
butter, inhibiting the formation of non-B crystals with lower melting
points. If chocolate is melted improperly, some of these unstable crystals
can rise to the surface and create a dull, streaked finish, called "bloom."
There are a number of different tempering methods, and each chocolatier will
defend his as zealously as he guards his recipes. Since each product contains
different amounts of cocoa butter, dark and milk products are subjected to
different temperature ranges, and these can even very slightly from
manufacturer to manufacturer. The accompanying chart illustrates the typical
range for what is known as the "three temperature method" used widely in
Although chefs and some chocolatiers temper by hand, the process is fully
mechanized in chocolate factories. Most machines feature water-jacketed
thermal containers which can melt, temper, and
store chocolate. Scrapers
sweep the bottom and sides of the containers every few seconds, and stirring
mechanisms keep the chocolate thoroughly mixed. Some units feature pumps and
tubes that enable chocolate to be pumped directly to and from other
machines; e.g., coating and molding machines.
This edition of the Flyer Chocolate Letter is published and copyrighted 1990- by Paris
Chocolates, Inc., P.O. Box 1281, Washington, CT 06793, Tel: (800) CANDY BAR.
Flyer Candy Bars, chosen the best in New York City by New York
magazine, have received rave reviews in such media as The Boston Globe, Chef,
Chocolatier, Food & Wine, The New York Times, and WOR Radio, New York.