Tempering is the process of melting, cooling, and warming chocolate so that it is firm and crisp at room temperature and has a nice glossy shine. Although it may seem intimidating, tempering is an easy-to-learn technique that is essential when cooking, baking, or decorating with chocolate.
How to Temper Chocolate
Take the chocolate and set it over a double boiler. That means there is a pot of hot water directly in contact with your source of heat (the stove) and then place your chocolate pieces in a separate bowl placed on top of the pot. The heat should be on medium or medium-low. If there is steam, that’s bad. Steam is very bad. What could happen is all that condensation could end up back in your bowl which could cause your chocolate to seize. When chocolate mixes with water, it firms up very hard and you definitely do not want that to happen. What you do want is for the chocolate to gently melt so that it produces a snap and sheen. Think about it. If you have ever had delicious pieces of chocolate that can snap and that had a beautiful glossy finish, then it was tempered. Without tempering, your chocolate would be limp and just melt in your hands.
The chocolate only needs to be melted ⅔ of the way so that it doesn’t stay too hot for a long while. Take the bowl of chocolate off the heat and, turning the bowl while using a rubber spatula, scrape and mix the pieces together to get it all to melt. The goal is to cool it down to about body-temperature. If it is too warm, set the bowl of chocolate over a bowl of ice-water, give it a stir, and then take it off and then stir and stir until it cools to the right temperature.
And that’s how you temper chocolate.