There is a knack to making chocolates and chocolate bars. That is, it you want to get the nice snap when you break it, and glossy finish with a smooth texture throughout..
Had I known a few simple things much earlier about tempering chocolate, I wouldn't have spent a fortune ruining the stuff !
Some of the many disasters include white mildewy type marks all over the surface (or in patches), crumbly interiors and dull finish.
If you look up chocolate tempering on the net, there are many web pages that tell you how to do this. They all use two classic methods.
The one for best results includes pouring chocolate on to a piece of marble, scraping it back and forward to cool it and then back into a bowl before pouring into moulds. I'll tell you now that this seemed like too messy and too much effort. I would also have needed to invest in a big lump of marble. There is so much "stuff" in my little kitchen at the moment that I have nowhere near enough storage space as it is. I therefore admit that this method was instantly put on the sideline....
The second method is called SEEDING. It seems to be the simplest and will give great results - as long as you get it right....
This is one of our new chocolate bar moulds. It's now a registered design and due to launch in about 4 weeks.
I've fallen in love with these chocolate bar moulds - which we have available in two different sizes. This one makes finished chocolate bars of 70g or thereabouts (depending on what fruit / nuts / sweets you decide to use for decoration - if any).
Here is the larger 3 cell chocolate bar mould which produces a chocolate bar with approximate weight of 100g (mine ranged from 95 to 120g depending if they had extra additions or not).
Simply wrap in cellophane and tie with ribbon - or make a pretty box / card sleeve - they make such a stunning home made gift.
For moulding your chocolate and getting good results, there are a couple of things you need to buy.
First thing is good quality couverture chocolate. This has a higher cocoa butter content and can be re-tempered quite easily. I buy really nice Belgian chocolate sold under the names of Belcolade or Callebaut from www.chocolatefountainwarehouse.co.uk. It normally has about 1 year sell by date on it. The stuff I buy comes in callets.
Callets are like small drops rather than a big bar. The Belcolate callets are like giant chocolate buttons, whereas the Callebaut callets are teeny weeny ones in comparison.
For early practising, you will get astonishingly good results with supermarket basics dark chocolate - 100g bars from the likes of Sainsburys are about 42p. Don't bother trying to work with budget grade or commercial brand white chocolate. I've wasted a lot of money myself trying that..... It doesn't taste as nice - but it tempers quite nicely.
Secondly, you need a chocolate thermometer or laser thermometer. I've got a laser thermometer (cost about £15.00 with postage) and the temperature range is both high enough to use for candy making / sugar syrup for macarons and low enough for tempering chocolate. It's not at all fiddly, and the temperatures are really pretty accurate.
Lastly, get a glass bowl if you do not already own one. Using other bowls such as earthenware creates hotspots unlike the glass which transmits a much more even heat and can burn or overheat your chocolate.
To temper your chocolate by the seeding method, you first need to melt it. This can be done by zapping it in short 15 second bursts in the microwave or using a double boiler (glass bowl over simmering water). If using the double boiler method, be sure that the water does not touch the bottom of the bowl and DON'T get a single drip of water in the chocolate or it will seize and become useless.
For the microwave method, simply stir every 15 seconds and remove when a little more than half melted. The residual heat in the bowl will continue to melt the rest of the chocolate. With the double boiler method, I prefer to pour boiling water into a pan and sit the bowl over the top. Leave it and wait until the chocolate melts. It is important not to let the temperature of your chocolate exceed 120deg F - so check the temperature regularly.
Once melted, you can begin the seeding process to cool the chocolate evenly to 80 deg F and then warm slightly until you reach moulding temperature. To do this, you need to add a little solid chocolate into the melted chocolate. It is important to stir constantly. It is best to use a silicone spatula as you can get all the chocolate away from the sides of the bowl.
Stir this until it melts in and add more if required. Check the temperature regularly. For plain / milk chocolate, it's ready to pour or dip (enrobing) truffles at about 85deg F. For white chocolate, you want a lower temperature of 80 to 83deg F.
I used to get ok results without a thermometer SOMETIMES. Success would be hit and miss. Sometimes the finished chocolates would BE perfect, but more often than not they would quickly develop a bloom (whitish covering) or go crumbly inside. These of course were entirely edible - but they didn't look nice and the texture was very wrong.
If you want super results every time, the pouring temperature of chocolate is crucial.... as is a chocolate thermometer (or laser thermometer) .
Incase you had not already guessed. this chocolate robot mould is another new registered design we'll be launching soon. The metallic effect on the chocolate robots was achieved by brushing a tiny bit of lustre dust (used for sugarcraft) inside the mould as suggested by a Facebook Fan. I think it was Ellie (sorry - I can't find the old chat post now !)
Sarah-Jane Nash, April 2012