How to Melt & Temper Chocolate

Melt & Temper Chocolate

Melting chocolate might seem simple enough, but there’s a bit more to it than that. Learn some tips on melting chocolate and tempering to give your chocolate its characteristic shine and snap.

  • Types of Chocolate

    There are lots of different types of chocolate available and they don’t all act the same. To get the most out of your chocolate goods, it’s important that you use the right chocolate product in the right way. Candy melts and chocolate or chocolate melting wafers are not the same products. 

    If pure chocolate blocks or wafers are to be melted and then expected to set up as a chocolate coating, for example, they need to be tempered. Tempering is a method of melting and cooling that gives chocolate back its characteristic shine and snap.  

    If tempering chocolate isn’t for you, you can use candy melt wafers. These can be found in most grocery, craft and bulk food stores. Candy melt wafers are made so that after melting and cooling, they will have a shiny finish and set up with no need for tempering. As they are candy, they are much sweeter than pure chocolate and contain little to no cocoa powder. 

  • General Tips

    Here are some general tips on working with all chocolate: 

    • Chopping the chocolate into small uniform pieces helps to melt it evenly and quickly. To save time you can also look for small chocolate coins that don’t need to be broken down.  
    • Stir often and keep a close eye on the chocolate. 
    • Moisture or overheating chocolate will cause it to become thick (seize).  
    • Remove the chocolate from heat before all the chocolate is melted, then stir to melt the remaining chocolate. 
    • With all methods of melting chocolate, make sure all equipment, including the double boiler, bowls and spatula, are completely dry to avoid seizing. 
    • If you’re melting chocolate chips, use those made from pure chocolate. All chocolate chips are formulated to keep their shape in baking and may not melt smoothly. Imitation chocolate-flavoured chips may be very difficult to melt.
  • Tempering

    The most common ways to melt and temper chocolate at home are either in the microwave or on the stovetop. When tempering, we recommend starting with one pound of dark chocolate.  


    Microwave  Tempering

    Microwaves are a quick and convenient method for melting and tempering chocolate. Keep in mind that chocolate shouldn’t go above 90°F / 32°C and needs frequent stirring. 

    The biggest advantage to using the microwave is that it’s a dry method, so there’s less risk of moisture getting in and causing the chocolate to seize. However, scorching the chocolate is a real risk if you don’t pay close enough attention to it. Also, make sure you use a microwave-safe bowl that doesn’t become too hot when heated. The timing will depend on the wattage of your microwave. 

    To melt chocolate in the microwave: 

    1. Finely chop chocolate using a sharp knife and place in a microwave-safe bowl. 
    2. Heat for 20 seconds on low power. 
    3. Once you see the chocolate begin to melt, remove the bowl from the microwave and stir with a rubber spatula. This helps the chocolate to melt evenly and prevents overheating.  
    4. Heat for an additional 15 seconds on low power and stir again. Repeat this process until almost all the chocolate is melted.  
    5. Stir in remaining bits of un-melted chocolate. Check the temperature of the chocolate with a food thermometer and make sure it doesn't go above 90°F / 32°C. 


    Stovetop Tempering  

    Although there is a risk of water getting into your chocolate when tempering on the stove, this method allows you to have greater control of the melting and tempering process.  

    Chocolate should be melted slowly in a double boiler over hot, not simmering, water. Steam shouldn’t escape from the sides of the double boiler - any amount of liquid in the chocolate can cause seizing. The top part or bowl should fit snugly over the pot without extending too much.  

    1. Finely chop chocolate using a sharp knife and place it in the top of a double boiler. Add water to the bottom of the double boiler. Do not let the water touch the upper bowl. 
    2. Place over medium-low heat.  Start stirring gently as the chocolate begins to melt and use a thermometer to track the temperature of the chocolate. 
    3. Remove double boiler from heat when 3/4 of chocolate is melted. Continue to stir until all the un-melted chocolate is mixed in.  
    4. Check the temperature of the chocolate and make sure it does not go above 90°F / 32°C.
  • Common Questions

    Water got into my melted chocolate and now it’s a grainy lump, what can I do? 

    Seizing happens when steam or water has gotten into your melting chocolate. It causes the chocolate to become thick and grainy. When your chocolate has seized, don’t throw it out, make a ganache. Add 1-2 tbsp of cream or liquor for every 2 oz of chocolate you’ve used. Heat gently and stir until it becomes smooth.  


    My chocolate went above 90°F / 32°C, can I still use it? 

    Yes, as long as your chocolate isn’t burnt, you can still use chocolate that has gone above 90°F / 32°C. Continue to stir chocolate away from the heat until it cools to 80°F / 27°C.  


    My chocolate got overheated and now tastes and looks burnt. Can I fix it? 

    Unfortunately, you can’t fix burnt chocolate. It’s best to throw it out and start over.

Storing Chocolate

What is the best way to store chocolate and for how long? Get all the answers here.