Tempering -- a technique that stabilizes chocolate -- creates a glossy sheen and a crisp snap in finished candies.
The tempering process involves slowly raising and lowering the temperature of melted chocolate while constantly stirring. This process causes the structure of the large cocoa-butter crystals in the chocolate to repeatedly break and then reform. When the chocolate is finally allowed to set again, the crystals of cocoa butter join in perfect chains, creating an extremely smooth, shiny chocolate that has a clean snap when broken. Because this chocolate can be spread very thinly, it is useful for molding chocolate and coating candies, and creating delicate decorations.
1. Do not use a wooden spoon to stir chocolate; it retains odor and moisture, which will ruin the chocolate.
2. Do not let any drops of water get in the bowl with the chocolate.
3. Make sure you use a chocolate thermometer specifically designed to register the small degree changes that are necessary to ensuring properly tempered chocolate.
4. The thermometer should not touch the bottom of the bowl; it will cause an inaccurate reading.
5. A heating pad placed under the bowl of tempered chocolate will help keep it from cooling too quickly.