21 Jan How to Temper Chocolate in a Microwave & a Give Away
This is me at chocolate class. While Elizabeth Baird looks mildly curious, I look like I’m about to have the “full bore lateral panic” my mother so often threatened. From my expression you’d think the macarons had started to dance about like extras in a scene from Fantasia. Or perhaps Master Chocolatier Derrick Tu Tan Pho was juggling knives blindfolded. But no. He’s just showing us how to temper chocolate. This is me reacting as I see Derrick put a metal bowl in the microwave.
Ever since my mom bought her first microwave in 1972 “Don’t put metal in the microwave!” has been drilled into me. Of course, that hasn’t stopped me from starting a small fire with a foil wrapper or showering the interior of the appliance with sparks from a gold-rimmed tea cup. But in all my years of melting butter and reheating cold beverages, I have never once zapped a piece of metal flatware or nuked a shiny silver mixing bowl. And there, in front of half a dozen seasoned food writers, Derrik, who is also the Technical Consultant & Director of the Barry Callebaut Canada Chocolate Academy, put a big metal bowl of chocolate pistoles in the microwave and hit “Start.” As you can see, it took all my self-control not to launch across the table and stop him.
Turns out that while aluminum and gold are death to a microwave, stainless steel is safe. I witnessed this first hand. How can this be? Those metal shelves in department store models aren’t coated with fairy dust. They’re made of stainless steel. According to Derrick, as long as your bowl is stainless steel and doesn’t touch the walls of the microwave, you can nuke it. And I believe him. Of course, I haven’t tested his premise in my own oven, but I was more than happy to witness his demonstration in someone else’s.
Anyway, if you like chocolate, the microwave just might be your best friend for tempering chocolate. Who knew? Uh, that would be Derrick. I can vouch for the microwave method for tempering chocolate. I’ve been using a variation for years (3 to 5 minutes on power level 3) but this is just as fast and far more effective. Without further ado, there’s a Master Chocolatier’s favourite method. The type of “microwave-proof” bowl you select is entirely up to you. Given my track record, I’m sticking to Pyrex. Murphy already has me on speed dial as it is.
How to Temper Chocolate in the Microwave
Courtesy of Derrick Tu Tan Pho, Master Chocolatier, Technical Consultant & Director of the Barry Callebaut Canada Chocolate Academy
Here is the chef’s foolproof method for tempering chocolate in the microwave – using about 1 kilo of chocolate.
- Pour chocolate pistoles into a microwave proof bowl and microwave for 1 minute on high. Take it out and stir well.
- Put bowl back in the microwave for 1 more minute on high, take it out and stir well once again. At this point in time, you will notice that about 1/4 of the chocolate has started to melt.
- Microwave for 30 seconds more on high – take it out and stir well. Now you will see that about 1/2 to 2/3 of the chocolate is melted.
- Microwave for another 10 seconds, take it out and stir it well once again. You can repeat this process for up to 3 more 10 second intervals.
- Once mixed, you need to carefully check the temperature of the chocolate using either a digital thermometer or a regular one. (You can check the accuracy of your thermometer by putting it in boiling water to see if it can reach 100C.) This is the crucial point – the chocolate should not be over 32C (or 89 – 90 F) for dark chocolate, 30C (or 86 – 86F) for milk chocolate and 29C (or 84 – 85F) for white chocolate.
- Keep stirring the chocolate for another minute or so, you’ll be amazed at how the temperature changes. The chocolate should be glossy and smooth.
- You can repeat this process for up to 3 more 10 second intervals – after each 10 second interval (only if necessary!) take the chocolate out and stir it well, check the temperature.
Note: If the chocolate is 34-35C (93 – 95 F) add another 50 grams of chocolate and stir until melted and the temperature has cooled to 32C. The goal is to get the chocolate to 32 C. Resist the temptation to put it in the fridge or freezer – just keep stirring! Don’t ever put your chocolate in the fridge or freezer.
So, why am I telling you this? I have my reasons — which I’ll reveal next week. In the meantime, tell me the benefits of tempering chocolate and your favourite chocolate recipe. I’ll pick a name at random on Monday. The winner gets a 1-kg box (that’s 2.2 pounds) of Cacao Barry’s Origine Chocolate Pistoles. Sweet!
Note: Due to confusing international food regulations, this contest is open to Canadian residents only.