Tempering by Seeding Method
You can follow the instructions without reading What is Tempering? and get the right results. I recommend reading it before this if you hope to understand the whole talk of crystals.
Tempering through seeding is probably the most accessible method. It’s hard to mess up and doesn’t require practice. If you are looking for a quick easy solution to tempering, do it this way.
The “catch” with seeding is that it requires you to have tempered chocolate already. You want to use this method when melting chocolate in order to give it a new shape or mix inclusions (fruit, nuts, etc) into it, to use chocolate to decorate a dessert, or in order to fix chocolate that went out of temper.
If you are making your own chocolate from scratch, this method will only be applicable once you’ve already tempered some chocolate another way, or if you don’t mind mixing another chocolate in with yours.
Why is it called Seeding?
Crystals crystallise, meaning have a feature that pulls in other particles organising the atoms into a predetermined structure. When we temper our goal is to break all the existing crystals in the cacao butter and then introduce shape V (5). This can be done either by manipulating temperatures or mixing in chocolate that is already made up of shape V. Once we introduce shape V to a chocolate mass with no other crystals, the shape will pull other particles into pattern, eventually crystallising all of the cacao butter in your chocolate, so that it is tempered.
In seeding, we do this the second way, mixing in chocolate that is already crystalised with shape V, or a “seed” of the desired crystal structure.
Saucepan & bowl for bain marie (double boiler), rubber spatula (can use spoon), whisk (optional, can use spoon or spatula)
Reserve at least ⅓ of your pre crystalised chocolate by weight (I like to use a tiny bit more to be sure) and chop it finely.
Image credit: /vindepeche.blogspot.com/
Crystalised chocolate is any store-bought chocolate, either a chocolate bar or chocolate buttons, it doesn’t matter what shape. If you have 100g of chocolate to work with, at least 33g is to be put aside. All store bought chocolate is made up of shape V and nothing else, unless it was damaged by heat in its supply chain.
This reserved portion will then get cut down very small, but not melted. Use a knife for a small amount or a shredder for a large amount, just cut it small to increase surface area.
Melt the rest (⅔) of your chocolate, then, while mixing, bring it’s temperature down to 31-32ºC.
Melting is ideally done gently. I suggest a double boiler or sousdvide. For a small amount of chocolate I would even turn heat off once the water underneath the double boiler is simmering.
Heating up your chocolate affects its flavour. Going too far makes it taste bitter and we call it burnt, but you don’t need to go that far to break some of the more volatile flavour compounds. So do this gently and do not go over 46ºC.
Once it’s done, take the chocolate off the heat, and while mixing allow it to cool down to 31-32ºC. This is a flexible range, although if you’re working with a huge batch of chocolate, steer towards 32ºC. When I say mixing - use a rubber spatula and ensure to constantly wipe the edges of the bowl clean. Don’t let a cluster of chocolate stay in the same place too long.
Once your ⅔ chocolate is melted and in the right temperature range, mix in your chopped ⅓ chocolate and whisk until it’s in a consistent texture. Your chocolate is tempered.
You will notice this mixture behaves differently to the melted chocolate earlier. Pay attention to this difference and you will begin familiarising with your subjective experience with tempered chocolate, to build an intuitive sense for tempering. Once you can tell this difference you will have an easier time tempering and troubleshooting.
Once your chocolate is tempered, pour it into its mould and let it set in the fridge for 15-20 minutes. If you don’t have a mould a sheet of parchment paper will do great too.