Keeping One’s Temper

Today’s object is the molten material below. That is: Belgian Truffle at St. Louis summer room temperature.

Pouring TruffleA friend got back from Europe and brought us a box of delicious truffles. Unfortunately, our summer normal room temperature is around 82°F with the window units running. So the truffles were running as well. Fortunately, the space-age Mylar bag contained the Truffles in a neat puddle from which I could re-form and “freeze” the  confections in the refrigerator. Chocolates bloom a bit if you refrigerate them. But they still taste fine.

“Bloom”? And where does keeping my temper come in? Was I angry?

These are technical terms used by chocolatiers. You see, chocolate is actually a very complex chemical and physical substance. It is a suspension of  solids in several fats that have a variety of different melting points.  If they are not carefully mixed as they cool, the confection gets grainy; much like ice cream. Did you ever try to re-freeze ice cream? It is never the same, unless you stir it during the freezing process.

Terms:

  • Bloom: One of two physically different processes in chocolate that causes the outside to whiten.
    • Temperature fluctuations well below the melting point cause one of the cocoa butter compounds to migrate to the surface.
    • Moisture condensing on chilled chocolate can bring sugar crystals to the surface
  • Temper: This refers both to
    • The process of heating the chocolate above its top melting point (about 125°F) and stirring it constantly as it cools to just above the lowest melting point (around 82°F, depending on the blend).
    • The state of having been carefully cooled this way, and then on to solid.

Unlike ice cream with its single melting point, one can carefully melt tempered chocolate to just above its lower melting point and refreeze it without losing the creamy texture. So with these truffles, we did keep our temper. Mm-mm, smooth.

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2 Responses to “Keeping One’s Temper”


  1. 1 Barry July 10, 2010 at 1:51 pm

    All this sounds vaguely familiar…!

    For my two cents worth, I’d say it’s not only unnecessary, but also a bit risky, to raise the temperature to 125 degrees F. Not much beyond that is the point at which the sugars begin to break down. If that happens you won’t be able to temper that chocolate, no matter what you do. 115 degrees F will do. It’s also unnecessary to stir once the temperature drops below 91 (for dark chocolate) or 89 (for milk or white), since these are points of recrystalization. In fact, excessive stirring of crystalized chocolate can cause it to lose its sheen.

    Just sayin’!


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