Temper or Pre-Crystallize Chocolate Using Cocoa Butter

by Eddy Van Damme on March 22, 2010

Oftentimes I am asked which is your favorite method of tempering or pre- crystallizing chocolate couverture. My answer is always the same: The cocoa butter method. Using cocoa butter to temper or pre- crystallize chocolate couverture is fast, hygienic and provides a finished result with high fluidity. Three factors which are very important.

If you are somewhat unclear on why we have to temper or pre-crystallize chocolate, or what chocolate couverture is in the first place, you may find it useful to read the other articles and methods of pre-crystallizing or tempering chocolate I have on my site. In a nutshell, when chocolate is melted and then properly pre-crystallized, it will harden with a crisp snap, it will easily retract from a mold and it will have a beautiful gloss. Without the pre-crystallization process it will be dull, grayish streaked, crumbly, stick to molds and will not be crisp.

Several types of cocoa butter products are on the market specifically made to be used for pre-crystallizing chocolate couverture. Since I had a hard time with these products clumping and not properly melting into the couverture, I decided years ago, to use and test standard cocoa butter for the tempering process. And my results are the exact same as using a specific cocoa butter product engineered for pre-crystallizing or tempering chocolate couverture. Using a micro plane and cocoa butter is all I use for quick, reliable tempering of chocolate. The cocoa butter I use is made by Callebaut.

What I like about the cocoa butter method the most:

1. Even though 1% of cocoa butter will properly pre- crystallize the couverture, adding more will not have any negative effects on the finished products. In fact, adding a little more will allow you to use the tempered chocolate at a higher temperature.

2. The chocolate couverture will be more fluid if compared to any other method of tempering. (Testing performed using the same brand at same temperatures)

3. Unless if using a tempering machine, it is the fastest method.

Just in case……couverture chocolate is what we need when tempering or pre-crystallizing chocolate. Couverture chocolate contains a minimum of 31% cocoa butter (Do not confuse cocoa butter with the % number of cocoa mass you see on chocolate bars- such as 64% cocoa mass etc), this amount of cocoa butter ensures a product which will be relative fluid when in a tempered state. Non couverture chocolate (think of standard chocolate chips) does not contain enough cocoa butter and will be a viscous mess when melted or pre-crystallized.

Tempering or pre-crystallizing chocolate couverture using cocoa butter.

You will need 1 % of cocoa butter to pre-crystallize or temper the chocolate couverture. For example to every 2lb 3 oz (1 kg) of chocolate couverture you will add 1 % (1/3 oz or 10 gram) cocoa butter.

Melt the chocolate to 115°F (46°C) over a very low simmering water bath (Bain Marie) or overnight in a chocolate melter. Let the chocolate cool to 95°F (35°C) for dark chocolate and 93°F (33.5°C) for milk and white chocolate.

2. Immediately add 1 % micro planed cocoa butter. Stir to dissolve the cocoa butter and homogenize the mass.

3. Let the chocolate cool to 90°F (31.5°C) for dark chocolate.  For white and milk chocolate allow the chocolate to cool to 87°F (29.5°C)

90 comments on “Temper or Pre-Crystallize Chocolate Using Cocoa Butter

  1. Hilary Adams on said:

    I like the speed of this method!

    Any suggestions on where to find the Callebaut cocoa butter in the Houston area? Or are we relegated to finding it and ordering online? Also, are there any brands of cocoa butter that you have found that just flat out don’t work as well?

    Thanks, Chef! I get so much from your blog! I know it can be hard work to keep up with it, but I really appreciate the info and the insights!

  2. Diana Wallace on said:

    Chef all of your information is always so helpful! You know how I love chocolate!

  3. Wow, that method really is fast! But do you need to keep the temperature of the chocolate at 29.5°C, that is, do you need to reheat it when the temperature drops or is it done once and for all and you can cover all the strawberries or truffles in a row?
    I love your website, i really appreciate the hows and whys of ingredients and baking, thank you for your wonderful posts! :)

  4. Eddy Van Damme on said:

    Hi Maya,
    Just like any other type of tempering chocolate, you have to keep the chocolate below 90°F (31.5°C) for dark chocolate. For white and milk chocolate below 87°F (29.5°C). So if you have to reheat, do it lightly, so the maxium temperatures are not passed. Instead of reheating it lightly, one thing I also like to do Maya is adding a little “warm” or out of the tempered zone chocolate” to the tempered chocolate. This makes the tempered chocolate more fluid and you can keep working this way very easily. Jus do not add too much of the warm-untempered chocolate to the tempered one or you may be out of the tempered zone.
    All the best and thank you for your kind comments.
    Eddy.

  5. Wow! You have a really nice blog.
    I’m a student at the Guthrie Center taking Baking & Catering and we use the ‘ON BAKING’ textbook in our class. When I saw the authors, I thought aloud, “Who are these people?” Then, my friend pointed out your name and said you were the pastry chef at HCC!
    Anyways, we study the book everyday. The teacher hasn’t even told us to look at it but we like to look at all the cool recipes and drool over the pictures. Everything you make looks amazing. I hope someday that you can teach me your ways.

    Sincerely,
    Jena 😀

  6. Irma Morales on said:

    I love your blog, it is so interesting and helpful!!

  7. Darienne on said:

    Never heard of this method before, but you can be sure I’ll try it soon. I hope it doesn’t matter if I use another brand of pure cocoa butter which I already have on hand. Brilliant idea, Chef Eddy.

  8. Eddy Van Damme on said:

    Darienne,
    Thank you! I’m sure it will work out for you.
    All the best, Eddy.

  9. Thank you for your very informative answer! :) All the best from Slovenia!

  10. Eddie on said:

    Thank you Chef, I have been toying with chocolate [I say “Toying” because my tempering results have been pathetic] for 2/3 months now and I was about to give up.
    I shall try youe method at tempering and hopefully retrieve my enthusiasm.

    Eddie

  11. Hi Eddy
    I was wondering when you were going to do a page on how to do some of the garnishes you put on your desserts like the chocolate mousse and all the other ones for example how do you color your white chocolate mousse once its done .
    Thank You Sincerely Antero Suarez

  12. Eddy Van Damme on said:

    Hi Antero,
    Thank you for visiting my site. Pretty soon I will do an article on chocolate garnishes.
    I’m not sure I understand your question on coloring the white chocolate mousse. Please send me some clarification.
    All the best Antero.
    Eddy.

  13. That is one smooth chocolate… I am gonna see these chocolates again… Now I know how to temper chocolates… It is an impressive method chef eddy… Nice…

  14. Hello, thank you for all the information. I’ve been struggling with my tempered chocolate coating.
    It seems too thick. I’ve thought about adding cocoa butter to it and now I will! Do you have suggestions on where to buy it online? Also, where should I buy my bulk chocolate and what should I be buying?
    Thanks sooo much!
    Bill.

  15. Eddy Van Damme on said:

    Hi Bill,
    Callebaut and Cacao Barry chocolate is not hard to find in the States and both have excellent couverture chocolate. If you are buying it in bulk you should ask the sale person how many “drops” (these drops look like teardrops) are on the original wrapper or box. Both companies label their chocolate couverture with drops. The higher the amount of drops, the more fluid the chocolate will be and easier to melt. For most applications I use couverture chocolate with 3 -4 drops.
    On buying milk chocolate, I prefer milk chocolate with a relative high cocoa mass content. (high 30% ‘s) Again both companies have excellent types available in couverture version.
    All the best,
    Eddy

  16. Jackie on said:

    Hi,

    Can I use this method with a tempering machine?
    Thanks
    Jackie

  17. Eddy Van Damme on said:

    Hi Jackie,
    It depends on what type of tempering machine you have.
    Eddy.

  18. janie davis on said:

    hi chef eddy,i really enjoyed class today.i never knew anything about pastry at all in the past,and taking your class i have learned a lot.tempering chocolate was fun and a great experience for me.i still have a lot to learn and the tempering method you demo today will become utilized in the future.thanks and may you be blessed on your work. (:-D)

  19. Ife Ayodele on said:

    Hey Che Eddy! I’m in another class (Cake Decorating 1) too and we learned to temper chocolate another way. Although this method seems intimidating, it’s probably because I wasn’t there to see it. I’m sure the results are excellent. Quick question: Would we only use this method for non-couverture chocolate (the chocolate without cocoa butter built in)? Thanks for the insight :)

  20. Eddy Van Damme on said:

    This method works for couverture chocolate as well.

  21. Dahye Kim on said:

    Thank you so much for the great information, chef Eddy!

  22. Simone Ortiz on said:

    Hi Chef Eddy, I enjoyed class last tuesday and hope to work with chocolate a lot more in the future. The technique that you showed us was a great way to melt chocolate. Hope to melt more chocolate tomorrow yummy. ^-^

  23. maria alviso on said:

    Hi,
    I really enjoyed tempering chocolate in class. The technique was a great way to temper and melt chocolate. Although, i still get confuse with the temperatures!!! :)

  24. Hello, thanks for all your help. I contacted a foods wholesale company Marque Foods here on the West Coast… I just tried my first test run with the dark chocolate in the tempering machine but noticed it wasn’t very shiny and seem to sweat a bit (very little). Any suggestions?
    Thanks again Cheers!

  25. Thanks Chef Eddy very helpful and interesting information.
    It is great to know what gives chocolate the status of couverture.

  26. Chef,
    This really does seem a much simpler way to temper chocolate. I note that you mention it may not be the best method when using a tempering machine, though. Why is that? And, what is the best way to temper chocolate when using a tempering machine, in your opinion?
    Thanks!

  27. Alejandro Bremont on said:

    Hi Chef Eddy,
    Without a doubt this is the method for tempering chocolate I like the most. I just have a question:
    could tempered chocolate left overs be reheated below the maximum temperatures without having to add a new addition of cocoa butter? In other words, could we just reheat left overs that have been previously tempered using the cocoa butter method straight to the tempered zone (90°F dark chocolate) without having to incorporate a new amount of cocoa butter?

    thank you chef!

  28. Chef Eddy, I agree with you, this is by far the easiest way to temper chocolate and also my favorite. I really had never worked with chocolate before and actually had not idea that it needed to be tempered in order to be able to work with it and have great end results. Thanks for these tips and the beautiful pictures you always have, visuals are important too!

  29. I really like this method cos’ its almost foolproof for a 1st-time chocolate “handler” like me, so thank you! One question – after melting the chocolate, what is the reason for cooling the chocolate to 95°F (if for dark chocolate) before we can add the cocoa butter?

  30. Robert Paul on said:

    Hi Chef
    This is the easiest way for me to temper chocolate. I like the ice method that I learned today, but this is the way I do it at home.

  31. willow on said:

    Great info..thanks! A couple of questions: as the chocolate is cooling from 115 to 95 F, do you stir constantly? Also what % of “untempered” melted dark chocolate can be added to the tempered chocolate. And can it be saved and “retempered” the next day?

  32. willow on said:

    Thanks for the great explanation! A couple of questions: as the heated (dark) chocolate is cooling to 95F does it need to be constantly stirred? What % of heated “Untempered” chocolate can be added to the tempered chocolate. And…can the chocolate be “retempered” the next day?

  33. Eddy Van Damme on said:

    Hi,
    When the chocolate is cooling to 95F you do not have to stir it, at least not constantly. You will have to give it a stir once in a while to ensure that the sides of the bowl are not cooled to lets say 87F while the center of the bowl is still 98F. Basically ensuring that the chocolate is cooled evenly. On adding untempered chocolate to the tempered chocolate, you can add about 10-20 % at a time. On retempering the chocolate the next day, sure you can, absolutely.
    All the best,
    Eddy

  34. willow on said:

    thanks for your quick reply!

  35. Hi Chef Eddy,

    First of all thank you for your website. You have written so much great information! My question is in regards to what Willow was asking about re-tempering. Is it possible to simply melt the already tempered chocolate while not going past 89F (depending on the type of chocolate) and therefore not destabilize the crystals? Would this work, or would it be best to redo the tempering process.

    Thanks,
    Phil

  36. Eddy Van Damme on said:

    Hi Phil,
    You certainly can melt the chocolate couverture and not exceed 90F (32C) and have perfectly tempered chocolate. To do so, my preferred method is using the microwave. Either in plastic or in a stainless steel bowl (When using stainless ensure that the bowl will NOT touch the sides of the microwave oven, I have used stainless steel bowl in the microwave oven for 15 years, all makes and such) Stir the chocolate often, about every 10-12 seconds at first. Once most of the chocolate has melted, heat only a few seconds at a time. It very quickly will go over the allowed tempered temperature. For milk and white chocolate use slightly lower final temperatures.
    Remember, for this method only tempered chocolate couverture will work ( the way we purchase it from a supplier or in case what you mentioned it was used before and was in temper when it hardened.
    All the best and thank you for your question,
    Eddy.

  37. how common is chocolate couverture (I have never head of it…)?

    if it is simply chocolate with more cocoa butter, why not just add more cocoa butter to “regular” chocolate…?

  38. Eddy Van Damme on said:

    Hi Jeff,

    Good question,
    Couverture chocolate is guaranteed to contain 31.5% cocoa butter, many contain more. Couverture chocolate is also a product which is conched longer and has a smaller particle size versus regular chocolate. Thus it is smoother and more luxurious on the tongue.
    All the best,
    Eddy

  39. Rick McClunie on said:

    Chef Eddy,

    Can I use semi-sweet or milk chocolate chips, or one ounce semi-sweet baking bars and use a greater amount of the cocoa butter than one would normally use with couverture chocolate, and achieve good results? If so, what’s the ratio of semi sweet chocolate (or milk chocolate) chips-to-cocoa butter as well as the ratios of the baking bars to cocoa butter?

  40. Eddy Van Damme on said:

    Hi Rick,
    Chocolate chips meant to be used for chocolate chip cookies will not give you a good result. Besides being too low in cocoa butter content this type of chocolate is not conched enough (the micron size is too large). A high quality chocolate is needed for a desirable result.
    Eddy.

  41. I don’t understand step 3 – a second cooling?
    Does adding cocoa butter add stable typeIV crystals?
    what difference would the second cooling make other
    than keeping the chocolate at working temperature?
    Does it play a role in crystallizing?

  42. Rick McClunie on said:

    Jeff,

    I have seen an ingredient of some couverture chocolates and Belgian chocolates, which include cocoa mass. What is it, and does its presence lessen or increase the quality of the chocolates for candy-making or other uses? Should I avoid it for candy-making (Toffee, Molding, Dipping)?

    What is compound chocolate and how is it used in candy-making?

  43. Margaret on said:

    I have a chocovision tempering machine (Revolation 2) and seed the chocolate. Would adding the cocoa butter enhance the results?

  44. Eddy Van Damme on said:

    The cocoa butter will make your chocolate couverture slightly more fluid. Something rather nice for most chocolate work.
    Eddy.

  45. can I temper raw cacao butter by melting to 110 F, then add a small amount of unmelted c. butter to bring the temperature down quickly before i bring the temperature back up? Can you give me any suggestions?

  46. Eddy Van Damme on said:

    Hi Joan,
    So in fact you want to “temper” the cocoa butter? Getting it in the right beta crystal form by doing so? If that is what you want to do the answer is yes.
    My best, Eddy

  47. Have you ever heard of adding a little cocoa butter to compound chocolate for a richer, more flavorful chocolate?

  48. Eddy Van Damme on said:

    I have not heard or done that myself.
    My best, Eddy

  49. I use a Bakon USA Choco TT temperer & mini enrober. Need to thin chocolate so it can run thru enrober. Am I able to use this method with this temperer? When do I add the cocoa butter? Will it not make the chocolate seize?

  50. Eddy Van Damme on said:

    You sure can. This method will only make your chocolate more fluid and will NOT make it seize. Remember, using chocolate labeled couverture may be all you need to get in order to obtain temepered chocolate in a nice fluid state.
    My best Eddy.

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