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Chocolate tempering machine

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I'm interested in getting more involved in chocolate-making and am thinking about a tempering machine for convenience. Is there any reason (besides cost) to temper manually rather than using a machine? The websites of many chocolatiers only talk about hand tempering -- do they really do it by hand and NOT use a machine? Or is this some quaint image they're trying to uphold?

And, lastly, any recommendations on machines? Table Top or Revolation?

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  1. Quaint image - need to use all that beautiful marble for something.

    Having tempered manually (a few hundred truffles each year around Christmas) for about seven years before switching to a tempering machine I can't think of a reason. I've been moving the machines out of my kitchen in the past several years, but the tempering machine will be staying.

    I have changed the way I make truffles. I used to freeze the centers in an all day process and then dip them. On the plus side they looked like homemade truffles. On the negative side they took longer to make and a very small minority of them would have streaks of chocolate out of temper. I believe this is a nearly inevitable occurence because of the cold center cooling the tempered chocolate and then the heating pad I had the chocolate on trying to heat it up. The tempering machine has an explicit instruction not to dip cold centers. Oddly I've never challenged this instruction, but it's because I use moulds with the machine. By piping the truffle center into the mould, I save a lot of time but end up with more professional looking results.

    Personally, I've only used the Revolation (I bought mine when it was the Chandre Sinsation) and it does what I need it to do. If I really wanted to, I could learn to play with the viscosity settings on it to control the temper better, but I'm fine with what it does. I use it every year for white, milk and lots of dark. The only mark against it would be if you plan on dipping a lot of things, like toffee pieces. Things you can firmly grasp and dip, like a strawberry are fine. Things you need to completely coat, and use a fork for will be swept off the fork by the machines wave motion and then you're on a hunt. I don't do this very often, so it works fine for me.

    5 Replies
    1. re: muD

      muD--

      Can you give any advice on tempering by hand? I thought it seemed so straightforward, and then I once tried doing it--failure. I love to cook/bake, but just don't have a lot of spare time in my life (work f/t and have an 18 mo son who i like to spend time with!), so I don't have much time/energy to trouble shoot failures through repeated experimentation. I would love some advice.

      It sounds as though you do the heating pad thing. I think I read about that in one book (The good Cookie by Tish Boyle? can't remember). Unfortunately, I don't own a heating pad and generally hate to buy one off things. Do you think that's really required? I'm not talking about doing hundreds of truffles, more the occasinal strawberry or biscotti.

      Any advice appreciated.

      Smokey

      1. re: Smokey

        I'm assuming you have a marble board, or some piece of marble, a chocolate thermometer and a double boiler. For clarification, I was using the heating pad (which I borrowed from my parents and haven't exactly returned) to keep the tempered chocolate at the right temp. This is only necessary if you'll be taking a long time with your chocolatiering. For dipping some fruit (must be bone dry) or biscotti I wouldn't find it necessary. A chocolate thermometer is not a candy thermometer in case anyone was wondering. The double boiler isn't as essential as the marble or chocolate thermometer, but I think it is the best way to melt chocolate.

        You can temper by melting chocolate and then stirring in some solid chocolate, but in my opinion it's playing Russian roulette. You either temper it or you don't - good luck. When using a marble board and thermometer I could go through several attempts at cooling, mixing cool and melted back again trying to hit the three degree sweet spot that guarantees success. Eventually you get it right. Every year I got better, but it's a bit of a pain.

        As for the specifics of tempering, I'd recommend a book by Carole Bloom. My book is probably fifteen years old, but I would imagine that the same section on tempering would be in all of them. There are also plenty of sites on the web with basically the same info.

        Link: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASI...

        1. re: muD

          Hmm, marble slab, eh? Yes, I think I had heard the most about the Russian roulette method, and had hoped that there was some bit of advice I could get that would make it less 'roulette'-like. I'm not buying a marble slab any sooner than a chocolate tempering machine. Sigh. Perhaps perfectly tempered chocolate will simply be something that will wait for my retirement.

          Smokey

          1. re: Smokey

            Well the RR method relies on two keys for success. Proportion of melted chocolate to solid chocolate and the temperature of the melted and solid chocolate when combined. You should be safe assuming the solid chocolate is at room temp - you'd still need a chocolate thermometer but a mercury one isn't that expensive. Unless someone knows of a published source, I'd do an extensive web search. There is a fairly good chance someone has posted guidelines listing these two factors and a formula for success. The standard response is two-thirds melted to one-third solid, but melted chocolate can be at a range of temps from ~100 up to 120 before burning.

      2. re: muD

        Thanks for your input!

      3. Tempered chocolate is tempered chocolate, whether tempered by machine or by hand. It's really just an expense thing. Most people don't temper chocolate frequently enough to make it worthwhile to buy a special machine. But if you do, or are planning to, of course you should. I can't believe any of those companies are hand-tempering. Hand dipping, sure. But why on earth would they hand-temper?

        1. Check out chocovision.com. I have two of their 10-lb max machines and I love them. I wouldn't bother tempering by hand. The machine does it all easily.