How to Temper Chocolate in a Microwave & a Give Away


21 Jan How to Temper Chocolate in a Microwave & a Give Away

Shocked to learn you can put metal in a microwave to temper chocolate - The Messy Baker


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.

Cacao Barry Origine Chocolate Pistoles

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.

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  • Teresa Pitman
    Posted at 09:56h, 21 January Reply

    I used to temper chocolate in an electric skillet. It worked! The benefits? It means the chocolate looks glossy and shiny when you dip something in it and let it set up. Without tempering, the chocolate looks dull. Still tastes good, though.

    My favourite chocolate recipe is very simple: vegan chocolate chips, melted, add in sliced almonds and spread on parchment paper to make bark. Before it starts to set up, sprinkle with sea salt. That salt/chocolate/almond combo is amazing.


    • Charmian Christie
      Posted at 10:33h, 21 January Reply

      @Teresa Pitman, now I’m hungry. And the chocolate / salt combo can be stellar. I like it with caramel, but that’s not vegan.

      Never thought of using an electric skillet. I always learn something from the people who comment. Thanks!

  • Ellen Graf-Martin
    Posted at 10:43h, 21 January Reply

    I like how quickly the chocolate melts in a glass bowl / stainless steel pot double boiler – and especially like it for my fave easy recipe – stir fresh, salted cocktail peanuts into melted dark chocolate and drop in small spoonfuls on a parchment-paper lined cookie sheet to cool. These never last in our house – a houseguest last week confessed to eating 6 of them for breakfast.

    • Charmian Christie
      Posted at 10:55h, 21 January Reply

      @Ellen Graf-Martin, I used the double boiler for years but often got water splatter because I was inattentive.

      Interesting that the first two comments share recipes with salted nuts. Love that the recipes are easy. And I’d eat them for breakfast, too.

  • Leslie
    Posted at 10:49h, 21 January Reply

    I had the same expression years ago when I saw a chef do the same thing in a class ….. the whole class sent out a loud gasp. Thanks for bringing those memories back to me!

    • Charmian Christie
      Posted at 10:58h, 21 January Reply

      @Leslie, so it’s not just me? Good to know. Everyone else took it in stride.

      The person who snapped the photo was quite amused by my reaction. Although I’ve witnessed the act in person, I still can’t bring myself to put stainless steel in the microwave. I get uncomfortable just thinking about it.

      • Leslie
        Posted at 11:05h, 21 January Reply

        I must be your older sister. I think about doing it but just can’t bring myself to pushing that button. I’m sure my house would explode! I’ll stick to ruining my good tea cups.

  • Cheryl Arkison
    Posted at 11:10h, 21 January Reply

    I managed to temper chocolate for my peppermint bark this year – totally by accident. But it sure was nice to hear that snap when I went to break apart the pieces.

    • Charmian Christie
      Posted at 16:01h, 21 January Reply

      @Cheryl Arkison, good point. Tempering also allows for the “snap”.

      Bet that bark was gooooood.

  • Amy Proulx
    Posted at 11:13h, 21 January Reply

    The benefits of tempering chocolate…. less blooming! No one likes those funny grey spots on their chocolate. That is, if the chocolate actually lasts that long in the house.

    • Charmian Christie
      Posted at 16:03h, 21 January Reply

      @Amy Proulx, I know what you mean. Chocolate has a very short life span in our house.

      Good point about the bloom — which always sounds incongruous to me since “bloom” is a positive term for most things but not for chocolate.

      • Amy Proulx
        Posted at 20:53h, 21 January Reply

        @Charmian Christie, I am usually too lazy to do the tempering part, holding and mixing at 32C. I had bloomy drizzle on my Christmas cookies this year. But the cookie monster at our house didn’t care.

  • Janet Foster
    Posted at 11:45h, 21 January Reply

    What a great idea. I bought a bunch of candy molds a few years ago with the intention of using tempered chocolate to make candies a la Jacques Torres. That never happened because the tempering process was too intimidating. I’ll try this method. Thanks

    • Charmian Christie
      Posted at 16:05h, 21 January Reply

      @Janet Foster, put those molds to use!

      Glad you don’t find this tempering method intimidating. Are you brave enough to use stainless steel? Or are you going with glass?

  • LJ
    Posted at 09:47h, 22 January Reply

    This is an interesting tip, but I’m going to stick with my Pyrex measuring cup. It makes it easy to see how the tempering is progressing and… it’s a measuring cup. So I know how much is in there too.

    I like making candied orange peel then dipping the peel in chocolate. Terry’s Chocolate Oranges got nothing on these.

    • Charmian Christie
      Posted at 13:13h, 22 January Reply

      @LJ, I’m with you on the Pyrex front. Love the idea of using measuring cup.

      You make orange peel?! My grandmother use to make it and I adored it. Tried to make it myself once and it was simply awful. Since chocolate/orange is one of my favourite combos, I just might have to try again. Mind if I nick your idea?

  • Joshua Burgi - "Just Eat!"
    Posted at 11:20h, 22 January Reply

    What a very interesting read! I will have to give this a try next time I need to temper some chocolate.

    Tempering chocolate gives the finished product a glossier and smoother look!

    My favorite chocolate recipe is one I have for Chocolate-Raspberry Tartlettes! ‘Tis wonderful!

    • Charmian Christie
      Posted at 13:18h, 22 January Reply

      @Joshua Burgi, chocolate and raspberry is another of my favourite combinations. Do you have a link to your tartlettes? I went to your site and couldn’t find the recipe. Feel free to post the link here. I allow links to relevant posts and this treat sounds amazing.

      And bonus points for your correct answer about tempering chocolate.

  • Melissa
    Posted at 16:24h, 22 January Reply

    I always thought tempering chocolate was beyond my ability. I am like most people, I stuck it in the microwave and let it go for a few minutes. I did this on many occasions for hot chocolate, to drizzle over icecream only to whack it as it hardened over the frozen goodness or to dip truffles in, a wonderfully good sloppy mess! Now, I have never invested in top quality chocolate to melt, but I can sure say I invested in bad chocolate. You know it is bad when it starts to turn grainy before you even get started the dipping or the drizzling. I swear I will never by bulk food store chocolate again. Chocolate is my best friend, melted, not melted, tempered not tempered,its all good.

    • Charmian Christie
      Posted at 09:36h, 23 January Reply

      I love how properly tempered chocolate will freeze when it hits ice cream, making that “crackle”.

      Using this method, tempering is not beyond anyone’s ability. I have a cheap candy thermometer (bought to make caramel corn) and am surprised how much I use it.

      Hope you can find good chocolate for your next round to truffles or sundaes.

  • Jessica Skiftun
    Posted at 17:21h, 22 January Reply

    I have to agree with Amy, the biggest benefit of tempering chocolate is avoiding the dreaded bloom. When I see those funny gray spots I can’t help but think the chocolate has turned (even though I know it hasn’t).
    Any recipe with chocolate in it is my favorite, but if I had to narrow it down….. I just had some pretty delicious milk chocolate and raspberry scones… yum!

    • Charmian Christie
      Posted at 09:38h, 23 January Reply

      Funny how off putting that bloom can be. Fortunately, it’s not harmful. And it goes away when you melt the chocolate.

      Those scones sound delicious. That’s one variation of a scone I haven’t had. Must amend that soon.

  • Quiet and Social | The George's Learning
    Posted at 12:16h, 25 January Reply

    […] the pic said an hour but I recommend overnight to make sure they’re solid. Melt chocolate (how to temper for that snap.) and dip in banana sandwiches. I recommend doing it in small batches as the banana melts quickly. […]

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