You don't need to worry about tempering chocolate if you're using it in baking or mixing it with another liquid such as cream. But if you're melting chocolate as a decoration orFor dipping and you want it to stay hard and glossy, you'll need to temper it first. This involves melting, cooling and reheating chocolate before using it in order to stabilise the cocoa butter crystals.
If you miss out the tempering process the end result will look streaky and dull, with a disappointing texture. It might be worth investing in a special chocolate thermometer to ensure you control its temperature exactly.
There are three steps to tempering:
Melting, heating to 110ºF to 115ºF.
Cooling to between 79ºF to 80ºF.
Warming to between 88ºF to 90ºF. For dark chocolate, 84ºF to 86ºF. For milk chocolate and white cocoa butter coating (white chocolate).
Double Boiler Tempering
Chop chocolate blocks into small pieces or use chocolate wafers.
Fill bottom of double boiler so the hot water does not touch the bottom of the upper pan. Do not let the water boil.
Stir the chocolate while melting to ensure even heating. Try to avoid creating air bubbles.
Heat chocolate to 120ºF to 122ºF.
Replace the hot water with 70F water, no cooler. Stir until the chocolate cools to between 79ºF and 80ºF. It may occasionally be necessary to add additional cool water to the bottom of the double boiler.
Now replace the 70ºF water with warm water (about 92ºF to 93ºF) and raise the temperature of the chocolate to between 88ºF and 89ºF. For dark chocolate or 84ºF to 86ºF. For milk chocolate or white cocoa butter coating (white chocolate).
Maintain the appropriate temperature while dipping. If the chocolate exceeds 90ºF, it will be necessary to repeat the tempering process.
Testing the Temper
It is advisable to test the temper of the chocolate before starting to dip. Test the temper by spreading a small amount on foil and allowing it to cool. It should be smooth and shiny. Dull areas, wet areas or streaks may indicate poor temper or a lack or mixing. If the results are unsatisfactory, re-temper the chocolate before proceeding.