To test for proper temper dip a small spatula or even a dinner knife into the chocolate until about 2 inches are coated. Allow the excess to drip back into the container. Prop the knife or spatula so it can dry without touching any surfaces. Leave it at room temperature for five minutes if you are using dark chocolate. Now examine it. It should be even in colour with no streaks or spots, glossy but not shiny and when touched does not smear or leave chocolate on your finger. If it meets all these conditions then your chocolate is properly tempered. To learn more about testing for proper temper consider purchasing DVD volume one.
Real chocolate purchased from a reliable supplier is usually in perfect temper. That means that it contains stable beta crystals. However if we wish to use this chocolate to make bonbons, chocolate figurines, coated truffles or any number of other confections we must first melt the chocolate. Once we melt it these stable beta crystals are displaced and wild crystallization begins and disrupts the temper. Alpha, gamma, beta prime, beta double prime and beta crystals all form. We have melted chocolate that appears to be usable but if we pour it into a mold or attempt to dip cookies or truffles into it we will discover that as it hardens it is dull, streaky, melts in our hands and has none of the snap or mouth feel we associate with good chocolate.
We need a way to get back those stable beta crystals in sufficient quantity to give us those qualities that make chocolate so popular with almost everyone. This is what we mean by tempering.
There are three aspects to the tempering process:
1.Time - it takes time for beta crystals to form and multiply.
2.Temperature - beta crystals will only form within a narrow temperature range which is dependent upon the type and brand of chocolate.
3.Agitation - some form of agitation, usually stirring, is needed to properly distribute the beta crystals so they can multiply.
This important tempering process is covered in detail in volume one of the DVDs which you can find here [link] or you can investigate private lessons here [link]
Will not melt at room temperature
Will not melt in your hands
Will have no streaks
Will be glossy (shine will only occur when it hardens against a shiny surface such as a polycarbonate mold)
Will snap cleanly when broken
Will shrink appropriately and release from molds easily
Should be stored at room temperature which is considered to be between 18 - 25º C
Most chocolate problems can be traced to improperly tempered chocolate. So if you are experiencing any of the following problems recheck the temper of your chocolate:
Chocolate is dull and streaky
Chocolate has white spots
Melts in your hands or turns liquid at room temperature
Will not easily release from molds
Bends before it breaks
Whether you temper by hand or by machine it is imperative that you test the temper of your chocolate. Remember that temperature is only one aspect of the tempering process. Chocolate which is at the correct temperature may still not be properly tempered.