Can You Temper Dairy Free Chocolate?
Tempered chocolate - it's not chocolate with a bad attitude!
Instead, tempering chocolate is a process that involves perfectly melting chocolate so that it can be used in your favorite recipes.
Believe it or not, tempering chocolate is actually a somewhat delicate process that requires a bit of know-how to do effectively. Melted chocolate that hasn't been tempered properly can turn into a dull, stateless, grainy mess.
Dairy-free chocolate can be just as easy to temper as long as you choose the right products. In fact, milk is easy to scorch and burn, so sometimes, choosing a chocolate bar with more cocoa butter and vegan ingredients instead of milk can help you out when you're tempering chocolate.
Here are some tips on how to temper dairy-free chocolate, as well as the best brands to choose from if you want to do this.
What Does It Mean To "Temper" Chocolate?
Tempering chocolate involves heating and cooling it in a precise way so that you can work with it to cook or bake. When done correctly, tempered chocolate has crystals in the cocoa butter that are arranged in a specific order.
When the chocolate cools, it will be shiny, solidly set at room temperature, and have a firm texture that snaps when you bite into it.
If you don't temper chocolate correctly, it will be too soft in your hands and fail to properly set. It will have a dull color and can be gritty or grainy tasting, too.
Tempering is a fancy culinary term that means something quite simple - you melt chocolate and let it cool. But why would you want to do this?
Why Would You Want To Temper Chocolate?
Knowing how to temper chocolate is important if you are doing any kind of confectionary work. While you probably don't need to know how to temper chocolate if you're just going to include it in some baked goods, like cakes or cookies, it's an important skill to have if you need melted chocolate for things like making candies or chocolate-covered strawberries.
You might also need to know how to make tempered chocolate if you plan on making molded chocolate candies. Chocolate that is not tempered will not release well from a mold, making it a gloopy, globby mess that doesn't resemble whatever it is you are trying to make.
Whether you are making chocolate-coated nuts or fruit, candy, or bonbons, knowing how to temper chocolate is important. You can even use it for dipped cookies or for a ganache!
It can be done quickly in the microwave, on the stovetop, or in a double boiler.
Can You Actually Temper Dairy Free Chocolate?
You can temper dairy-free chocolate just as you would any other kind of chocolate.
The key here is to look for quality chocolate.
Some people try to melt chocolate that isn't real - we're talking fake or compound chocolate that doesn't include cocoa butter as a primary ingredient.
"Fake" chocolate often includes tons of fillers and ingredients that you can't identify. There are some dairy-free or vegan chocolate brands that try hard to mimic regular milk chocolate with lots of preservatives, artificial flavors, and other mystery ingredients.
These products are not only worse for your health, but they also don't exactly taste the best. They're also not the greatest for tempering.
Use real chocolate when you are tempering - the fewer the ingredients, the better. Dark chocolate with a high cacao percentage is ideal. The higher the percentage of cocoa solids, the thicker the chocolate will be and the better it will temper.
That's why non-dairy dark chocolate tends to be easier to temper than milk chocolate or white chocolate. It is simpler and doesn't contain as many additional ingredients that can make your work more challenging!
Another shopping tip? Don't worry about terms like "bittersweet" or "semi-sweet." This won't tell you much. Instead, look for vegan chocolate that is in the 60 to 70% range for cacao.
How To Temper Dairy-Free Chocolate - Step By Step
There are a few ways you can temper dairy-free chocolate. You can do it on the stovetop, in a double boiler, or even in the microwave.
There are other methods besides these, too, including tempering chocolate in a countertop double boiler or utilizing a technique called tabling. But these three are the simplest for home cooks to master.
Don't Let Your Chocolate Seize!
When you're deciding which method to use, the key priority should be to make sure your chocolate doesn't seize. Chocolate seizes for a few different reasons, but no matter what the cause, it can ultimately ruin your batch of chocolate.
The first thing to know is that chocolate is all about sugar, cocoa, and fat. Water is the enemy. If chocolate comes into contact with moisture during the tempering process, it will become clumpy and gritty - not smooth and silky.
You also need to pay attention to the temperature. If you are melting chocolate and then add a slab of cold vegan butter, the chocolate's balance will be thrown off and it will be ruined.
To prevent chocolate from seizing, you need to limit any moisture from coming into contact with the chocolate. Use a rubber or silicone tool to stir, since wooden tools tell moisture. Stir your chocolate regularly, too, to prevent it from seizing or from burning.
Method 1) Microwave Tempered Chocolate
The quick, "cheater" way to temper your chocolate is to do so in the microwave.
If you decide to melt chocolate in the microwave, all you need are your chocolate bars or chocolate chips, a silicone or plastic bowl, and a spatula.
If you're going to melt chocolate in the microwave, the key here is to stir it regularly. You'll put your chocolate and if you choose, vegan butter, into a microwave-safe bowl and heat it on low power for 30 seconds. Remove, stir, then keep microwaving in 30-second intervals until the completely melted chocolate is shiny and smooth.
Microwaving chocolate to temper it can work as long as you keep a close eye on the temperature. As long as the chocolate doesn't surpass the ideal temperature, then the crystals in the cocoa butter will remain intact. Using a microwave is a good way to temper just small amounts of chocolate - if you're using a large chocolate bar instead of chocolate chips, break it up into smaller pieces first so it doesn't overheat and is easier to work with.
Method 2) Tempering Dairy Free Chocolate With The Double Boiler Method
Of course, most chefs recommend the double boiler method for tempering chocolate. Here's a step-by-step guide on how to do it.
A double boiler is a bowl that is placed over a pan of simmering water. The bowl won't touch the water. This Is the method preferred by most chefs since it allows you the greatest level of control with a minimal chance of scorching the chocolate or causing it to seize.
A double boiler also allows for a slower melt - again, this can prevent scorching your batch.
The key to using a double boiler system for tempering your chocolate is to make sure that the bowl never touches the simmering water. The bowl needs to be totally dry before you add chocolate and you should avoid covering it while it's cooking since condensation will form. Of course, condensation is a type of moisture.
Once your chocolate has totally melted, turn off the heat first before removing the bowl. The steam can add moisture to the chocolate and cause it to steam.
1. Place water in the bottom of the double boiler, keeping the water about half an inch below the upper pan.
2. Place your chopped-up vegan chocolate or chocolate chips into the upper pan, then put the double boiler over low heat.
3. Stir the chocolate constantly until it is completely melted. Do not let the water in the bottom of the double boiler come to a boil while your chocolate is melting.
4. Keep the chocolate at the desired temperature while you're working with it - that way, the chocolate won't cool and solidify before you're done with it.
5. If you're worried about the chocolate burning, you can also temper it in a double boiler via a process known as seeding. To do this, you'll simply whisk in pieces of tempered chocolate a little at a time to help maintain a more consistent mixture and temperature. It works well for large batches of chocolate so that your entire batch doesn't get out of hand.
Method 3) Stovetop Method for Tempering Chocolate
This is the final option for tempering chocolate but it's not recommended by most chefs. It's very easy to overheat or burn the chocolate, ruining an entire batch.
In a pinch, though, it will allow you to temper chocolate without having to purchase or set up a double boiler.
To do it, you just put the pan of chocolate on the stovetop and turn it to low heat. Stir until the chocolate is melted. Be very careful doing this - stir constantly - until the chocolate is completely melted.
Which Chocolate Is Best For Tempering?
Are you interested in learning to temper your own chocolate for delicious homemade treats?
If so, you'll want to stick to non-dairy options like dark chocolate. Not only does chocolate with a higher cacao content tend to be healthier (and in our opinion, more delicious!) but it also is best for making candy.
That's because pure chocolate with fewer ingredients, like dark chocolate, is more stable and easier to work with than highly processed alternatives like white chocolate or milk chocolate.
There are countless quality chocolate brands out there that you can choose from if you're interested in creating your own confections with tempered chocolate. However, if you really want that smooth, glossy finish, you've got to go with the best of the best - MidDay Squares.
Why MidDay Squares Has The Best Dairy Free Chocolate For Tempering
MidDay Squares has an assortment of functional and flavorful chocolate bars that not only taste great but are great for you, too. These chocolates don't use fillers and chemicals to improve their taste or consistency, making them easier to work with if you decide to give recipes that call for tempering a try.
These chocolate bars do not contain gluten, soy, GMOs, or any animal products - including dairy. They're 100% organic and pack a nutritional punch with 12 grams of protein, 3 grams of fiber, and 1.5 grams of omega-3s.
Don't want to make your own candy - and would rather let someone come up with the recipes instead? That's not a problem. MidDay Squares come in an assortment of fun flavors and styles, with tasty mix-ins like peanut butter and almonds available.
So what are you waiting for? Whether you want to whip up a batch of confections for yourself after tempering some chocolate or you'd rather enjoy a tasty treat without all that work, MidDay Squares is the perfect non-dairy chocolate brand for you.