Temper, Temper, Temper! The Science of Tempering Chocolate *
AbstractNut clusters, chocolate-dipped candies, and chocolate-dipped strawberries are just some of the delicious goodies that have a thin, rich layer of chocolate wrapped around them. But how do pastry and candy chefs make these delectable treats? The first step is to melt and temper chocolate. Tempering is a process in which the cocoa butter in chocolate is hardened into a specific crystalline pattern. When the cocoa butter molecules are in this pattern, the chocolate is shiny and breaks with a sharp snap. Tempering chocolate is an art and a science. It is a science because the tempering is temperature dependent. If the temperature of the melted chocolate is too high, the chocolate will burn. If the temperature of the melted chocolate is too low, it might never harden properly. In this science fair project, investigate how different temperatures affect the resulting melted chocolate. After tempering, brush some of the chocolate on wax paper. Does the chocolate harden or does it stay soft? Is it shiny or blotchy? Can you peel it off or does it stick to the paper? Try tempering dark chocolate and white chocolate. Is there a difference in the tempering temperature for each one? Once you have figured out the tempering process of your favorite chocolate, use your recipe to cover nuts, strawberries, or your favorite treat. Share your goodies with your friends and family and let everyone know that your science fair project has a sweet ending.
Figure 1. Stacks of various kinds of chocolate. (Wikipedia, 2008.)
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This website from the Exploratorium in San Francisco has information on various aspects of chocolate.
- Spadaccini, J. (n.d.). The Sweet Lure of Chocolate. Exploratorium Magazine Online. Retrieved October 16, 2008, from http://www.exploratorium.edu/exploring/exploring_chocolate/index.html
- Corriher, S. (1999, March 1). Food Science: Why Temper Chocolate? Fine Cooking, Vol. 31, Retrieved October 16, 2008, from http://www.taunton.com/finecooking/articles/food-science-why-temper-chocolate.aspx
- Chu, M. (2006, November 12). Tempering Chocolate. Retrieved October 16, 2008, from http://www.cookingforengineers.com/article/155/Tempering-Chocolate
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