The difference between tempered and untempered chocolate

There is so much more to it than that and we are going to continue to delve into that today with some chit chat about the difference between tempered and untempered chocolate.


Allow me to paint a picture for you.


You’re strolling the isles in a health food store. You see a raw chocolate bar. The packaging looks good, the ingredients certainly look appealing to your healthy nature. The price is a little on the high side, but you figure it’s worth it.


You deserve the best and this must be the best. You buy it. You feel good about your choice.


Once you are home, settled (or maybe this happens 5 seconds after your purchase while walking to the car ) you open the pretty packaging, you’re excited, intrigued… first impression, it’s dull, but that’s ok, it’ll be awesome. You break it, it bends. You’re confused.


You take a bite, it’s soft, grainy, thick…it’s not chocolate. You’re not a happy camper and I don’t blame you.


This is a classic case of “fake chocolate parading as real chocolate”. When I say “real chocolate” I am referring to tempered chocolate. Have you ever melted a bowl of cacao butter, not used some of it, allowed it to cool at room temperature and noticed little beads forming in the butter ?


These little beads are actually cacao crystals, some are large enough to be seen by the naked eye and, I think, it ‘s a good way of understanding why untempered chocolate is grainy and dull; all these different sized “beads” make it impossible for the chocolate to be stable, shiny, snappy, etc… Yes? 


When chocolate is tempered, these crystals are encouraged to form in a particular way. I like to think of them as puzzle pieces. If you just dump a bunch of puzzle pieces on the table, they aren’t going to fit together. If you pick up the puzzle, it will crumble.


However, if you take the time to put the pieces together, they form a stable structure which you can pick up, move around and so on.  Once chocolate is tempered, it’s stable at higher temperatures (doesn’t melt in your hand), you get the “snap” we all know and love and the texture is smooth, light and firm.


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All the best