Last weekend, I went to The Sydney Chocolate School with some girlfriends to attend their introductory course on hand tempering chocolate. It turns out, it’s pretty easy to do… and the end result is definitely worth the effort.
First let me set the scene: the workshop is in one of the adorable little cottages in the Sydney suburb of Mosman. As you walk into the space, the aroma of divine sweet things wafts through the air and it is just so warming. There is bunting, felt garlands, subtle seaside inspiration, cute teacups and delicate handmade chocolate gifts. I felt like I’ve just walked into my favourite movie Chocolat. Aaaaaagh!
So since I am now essentially a professional on this topic (insert a chocolate-covered toothy grin right here), here are my top 5 tips on tempering chocolate yourself.
A big, solid, ceramic or glass bowl. A thermometer, chocolate moulds, a few small pieces of cotton wool, dried fruit (in this instance we used freeze dried raspberries), two large spatulas and a bain-marie set up.
Oh and chocolate… choose a good quality chocolate in white, milk or dark chocolate or a blend of each. The chocolate used by the Sydney Chocolate School is organically farmed and doesn’t use any palm oil, is gluten free and their dark chocolate is also Vegan.
We were taught the French technique of tempering the chocolate on a slab of marble, so if you have a stone surface like a kitchen bench top or the like, then that will work just fine.
When you buy chocolate, it has already been tempered: heated and cooled. So the fat molecules have been melted and set. So we are essentially re-melting them down and ‘re-aligning’ them back again in the form of the new treats you will be making. It is essential that you get this heating step correct or you wont get the right taste, look or texture.
Make sure there is not even one drop of water in your bowl. Then warm the bowl of chocolate in the bain-marie till it is around 45 degrees Celsius.
Pour the chocolate over a cool slab and with a spatula in each hand, start scraping the chocolate back in from the outside of the spread back into the middle. After all the chocolate has been scooped back and forth and is well mixed, it goes back into the bowl. This step will ensure that end result will be shiny and have just the right amount of crunch.
Get some good quality chocolate moulds and make sure they are clean and dry before use. Give them a good buff with a piece of cotton wool as this helps aid the removal of the chocolate from the moulds once it has set, and gives the chocolate an extra glossy finish.
There are a variety of moulds, shapes and edible prints that you can buy (The Sydney Chocolate School stocks many items for sale themselves), so this is the step where you can get truly creative.
For the heart shaped moulds we crushed up some freeze dried raspberries into the moulds first. The round moulds were perfect for topping with some hundreds-and-thousands to make chocolate freckles, and a lovely gold edible print paper was placed on the lollipop moulds to give them some a special finish.
Pour in the chocolate to top the moulds, tap the moulds town firmly to get rid of any air bubbles. The and scrap off the excess chocolate with a spatula so that they have a smooth finish.
Cool in the fridge for about 30 minutes to set and simply tap gently out of the moulds to release them.
This is not so much of a step, rather just an obvious statement really. But IFF you can manage to hold back and spare some of your creations from instant inhalation, they really do make gorgeous treats to share. All you need are some cellophane or brown paper bags and tie with ribbon or twine.
And there you go… handmade chocolate treats. How impressive!
Gather some friends and head over there for one of the many courses on offer. You’ll get a bag of treats to take home and maybe even follow up a course with their scrumptious high tea. Plus, you’ll leave feeling like a real professional, complete with a certificate… and I will be framing mine!
The Sydney Chocolate School
Building 21. 1110 Middle Head Road
Mosman 2088. Australia.