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May 9, 2012 09:47 PM

Couverture Chocolate

I am beginning to do some set chocolate in molds using a chocolate tempering machine and I am a little unsure about the type of chocolate needed to be used. Am I only limited to using couverture chocolate? After I melt my batch of chocolate, I have to seed it with already tempered chocolate?

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  1. Couverture just refers to chocolate that has a higher minimum cocoa butter percentage. It will be more runny and better for getting thin shells in the molds. Sometimes it just depends on the chocolate, and you can also add straight cocoa butter to thin your chocolate if it is too thick. I usually use Valrhona or Felchlin, but there are plenty of other good chocolates. Barry-Callebaut products usually show 1 to 5 droplets on the package to indicate viscosity, fewer droplets is thicker when melted, more is thinner and better for molding and enrobing.

    I have not used a tempering machine, hopefully it comes with instructions? You seed with solid tempered chocolate because that introduces the more stable fat crystals that you need. Tempering is about crystallization. I temper by hand using the seed method. I add a fair amount of solid chocolate and stir occasionally until that is melted. When the chocolate gets down to about 95, you want only a few solid pieces left, so that they will melt on the way down to 90 while providing stable crystals. You don't want too many unmelted pieces because they can stick in molds and also induce too much crystallization, making the chocolate really thick at normal working temps. If this does happen but the chocolate is still in temper, raise the temp a degree or two to melt out some of the crystals. Don't go by temperature alone. You can have chocolate in the the right temp zone but that hasn't been properly pre-crystallized and is not in temper. Dab a little on parchment to test how well it sets up, and test again any time you're not sure of your temper.

    Hope that helps. Have fun!

    4 Replies
    1. re: babette feasts

      wow you are a wealth of information. It's so ridiculous, because I studied chocolate in culinary school, yet since been working as a pastry cook. And now I am second guessing myself, If you don't mind me running through how i would do it for your feedback let me know.

      I temper on my marble...

      1. melt chocolate to 44-45C
      2. either cool down on the marble slab, moving around to ensure good crystal formation. or add seed chocolate (the seed chocolate has to be already tempered? or does the already tempered seed just promote easier crystal formation?). cool down to 28C
      3. Heat back up top work dark chocolate between 31-32C
      5. Pour in molds, Tap to release air bubbles. dump out excess chocolate until on shell remains. Scrape.
      6. Fill.
      7. Pour over chocolate to create base. scrape. Chill 5 minutes just to set. Release.

      Now if the chocolate is too runny, I can add tempered cocoa butter to it. which just means I have to temper it the same way i temper chocolate and make sure that I add it at the same temperature as the chocolate. Does a little cocoa butter go a long way? or what's the ration like. I guess I have to add as I go to obtain the right viscosity.

      Do you use couverture chocolate or regular chocolate with cocoa butter added to it?

      1. re: reneelkaslasy

        Thanks. I do a little chocolate work.

        Usually melting to 50c is recommended. Seed chocolate has to be already tempered, that is the point of it, to add stable crystallized cocoa butter to the mix of melted fats. If you do have solidified chocolate that is out of temper, you can melt and re-temper, but it will be easier if you use tempered seed from another batch. The cooling to 28C is more for tabled tempering, where you have to encourage the crystallization manually with agitation rather than using seed.

        You remember the steps well. Some fillings will require more time to form a crust and solidify enough to support the weight of the bottoms. An hour or two in front of a fan can really speed that along. I usually do 2 or 3 layers on the bottom; the first layer shrinks and the second is the 'beauty coat'.

        Less cocoa butter = thicker chocolate, more cocoa butter = runnier. Pure melted cocoa butter is very liquid. A little does go a long way, if you needed to thin your chocolate you would probably only add up to 5% cocoa butter.

        I generally just use couverture.

        1. re: babette feasts

          if seed chocolate has to be already tempered, then I just save a bit from the last tempered batch?

          yes, i almost forgot that I used to paint the inside of the molds in upward motion in a thin coat. I remember painting the inside of the molds with luster dust first. or spraying them with the gun of tempered colored cocoa butter.

          If i am painting in lines of cocoa butter design/decor. I temper the cocoa butter. paint on. then brush my base in. then pour in my tempered chocolate.

          I think I am combining the seed method and the table tempering in my head. If i am purely table tempering. then i guess I wouldn't seed at all. just cool down on the marble and agitate.

          if I melt and remelt chocolate that is out of temper, will it still have bloom streaks, or just be more dull?

          1. re: reneelkaslasy

            Yes, save a bit from the last tempered batch. Chocolate is expensive, and when molding you always need to temper extra. I generally melt my scraps first and use new chocolate from the bag for my seed, but as long as your scrap was tempered it shouldn't matter. You can melt and temper the same chocolate over and over as long as you don't get water in it. It's not going to wear out!

            Brushing or spraying the first layer in will give you a fantastic finish and help avoid bubbles. Tedious and time consuming, though, so it's up to you to decide if it's worth it. For me, polishing and one layer of decoration is enough fiddling. Bubbles are a bigger problem in molds with more angles and corners, so they haven't been an issue with the dome shapes I've been using lately.

            If you need to melt and temper out of temper chocolate without the addition of tempered seed, you may have a more challenging time of it but it should be possible. The cocoa butter hasn't been destroyed or compromised, it's just out of order. If you can table temper without using seed, you should be able to re-temper without it too, right?

    2. Couverture chocolate is 30 - 39% cocoa butter. Because of that high level, it can be used for dipping and enrobing. You can still use it in molding. I use Callebaut because I can't bring myself to pay for Valrhona. You can use a lower percentage of cocoa butter for molding if you like.

      I use a tempering machine too. I'm way too lazy to temper by hand. If it was tempered when you started, you can probably get away without seeding but the machine makes it easy.

      2 Replies
      1. re: Hank Hanover

        I am keeping my fingers crossed for a JVC tempering machine but the woman is giving me quite the run around. So I may be tempering only by hand to start. hmm. what do you do with the chocolate that is out of temper. let's say you do a whole batch, and it is bloomed or doesn't set. can you re-temper it?

        1. re: reneelkaslasy

          With a tempering machine and seed chocolate, you can temper just about anything. I once tried to temper a chunk of my Callebaut 815 semi sweet chocolate. It has about 35% cocoa butter. I use it for just about everything because I don't want to buy a bunch of different chocolates.

          Anyway, this chunk had been sitting around unwrapped or at least loosely wrapped and exposed to the atmosphere and it had bloomed. I was able to temper it or at least it displayed the characteristics of being tempered. It snapped and didn't start melting as soon as you touched it, but it wasn't as dark as it normally was. It wasn't as shiny as it normally was and it didn't dry as thin as it normally did. I ended up using it in a ganache with some other chocolate.

          Santa got me a Revolation 2 tempering machine a few years ago. She said she had gotten it at a really good deal and hadn't paid anywhere near what Amazon is trying to sell it for.

      2. Oh by the way, Alton Brown has a technique where he can melt already tempered chocolate and it doesn't lose it's temper. He uses a heating pad wrapped around a stainless steel mixing bowl. He says if you can keep the temperature below about 98°F, it won't lose it's temper.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Hank Hanover

          what a great technique! that'll encourage me to be braver with my good chocolate in lieu of a machine.

        2. If the chocolate is not properly tempered will it still come out of the mold easily? I want to add maca to melted chocolate and pour this into a mold for proportional consumption. The esthetic does not matter for me in this case.

          2 Replies
          1. re: maxmillan

            I think it will come out of the mold fairly easily. If it isn't tempered, it won't snap when you break it and it will start melting as soon as you touch it.

            1. re: Hank Hanover

              Thanks. I tempered it. I guess I was just feeling lazy but it really doesn't take too long if I do this while watching TV.