Chocolate is tempered so that after it has been melted it retains its gloss and hardens again without becoming chalky and white (that happens when the molecules of fat separate and form on top of the chocolate).
There are a variety of ways to temper.
One of the easiest ways to temper chocolate is to chop it into small pieces and then place it in the microwave for 30 seconds at a time on high power until most of the chocolate is melted.
Be very careful not to overheat it.
(The temperature of dark chocolate should be between 88 and 90 degrees F, slightly warmer than your bottom lip.
It will retain its shape even when mostly melted.
White and milk chocolates melt at a temperature approximately 2 degrees F less because of the amount of lactose they contain.)
Any remaining lumps will melt in the chocolate’s residual heat.
Use an immersion blender or whisk to break up the lumps.
Usually, chocolate begins to set or crystallize along the side of the bowl.
As it sets, mix those crystals into the melted chocolate to temper it.
A glass bowl retains heat well and keeps the chocolate tempered longer.
Another way to temper chocolate is called seeding.
In this method, add small pieces of unmelted chocolate to melted chocolate.
The amount of unmelted chocolate to be added depends on the temperature of the melted chocolate, but is usually 1/4 of the total amount.
It is easiest to use an immersion blender for this or a whisk.
The classic way to temper chocolate is called tabliering.
Two thirds of the melted chocolate is poured onto a marble or another cold work surface.
The chocolate is spread out and worked with a spatula until its temperature is approximately 81 degrees F.
At this stage, it is thick and begins to set.
This tempered chocolate is then added to the remaining non-tempered, melted chocolate and mixed thoroughly until the mass has a completely uniform temperature.
If the temperature is too high, part of the chocolate is worked further on the cold surface until the correct temperature is reached.
This is a lot of work, requires a lot of room, and makes a big mess.
A simple method of checking tempering is to apply a small quantity of chocolate to a piece of paper or to the point of a knife.
If the chocolate has been correctly tempered, it will harden evenly and show a good gloss within a few minutes.
How to make the Christmas treePour melted tempered chocolate onto flat surface.
Use offset spatula to spread chocolate to 1/8 inch.
When chocolate begins to set, cut Christmas tree shape using a sharp paring knife.
Use small cutter to cut out rounds for decorations.
Use same technique to make the base on which the tree will stand.
Use cocoa butter paints to paint decorations on the tree.
Use melted chocolate to stick on bon-bons.
Then, use melted chocolate to stick tree to base.