Articles tagged #CANDY-MAKING
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Sephra chocolate - a brief history

How to temper chocolate

Need to temper chocolate? Help is at hand! Believe it or not, the fear of tempering chocolate is quite common. But it can actually be fun. I always thought tempering chocolate would be a daunting task – and really tried to avoid it. Recently I saw a segment on the Food Network on how to temper chocolate. Now, I’m all in to tempering! It's actually fun! There are so many recipes which really rise to the next level, simply by using a good quality chocolate and tempering it. I’ve been a home cook and part time caterer for years, so I found many of The Food Network shows fun to watch and also got many good recipe ideas. Alton Brown has always been the most interesting, because he gave scientific facts about the food you cook and eat... and what actually happens, scientifically, to the food during preparation. Over the years, Alton has played many a roll on the Food Network, but his “Good Eats” show has remained popular and entertaining, as well as informative, to this day. Who knows how many years it’s been on, and yes, how many reruns we’ve endured, but, he’s given us many interesting and important scientific facts about the food we eat. Alton has several interesting “side-kicks” on his show. One he refers to as “W” is a well versed but impatient kitchen store employee who finds Alton totally exasperating because he searches for kitchen implements which are (as he put it) “multi-taskers”. In other words, he wants a pot or pan which will have more than one use in the kitchen! The other side-kick, known as “Shirley” is an actual food scientist who explains reasons for the action and re-action you get when you mix ingredients or substances. I happened to be watching a “Good Eats” show recently and the subject “WHY TEMPER CHOCOLATE?” came up. It was Shirley’s job to explain exactly what happens when you temper chocolate and why it has to be done a certain way and maintain an exact temperature to be successful. I thought it would be interesting to pass this along to you and hopefully you’ll find it both interesting and helpful the next time you're working with chocolate.

Why Temper Chocolate? To Avoid Chocolate Bloom

If you heat and cool chocolate without controlling the temperature - the crystallization of the cocoa butter will result in crystals of different sizes (bad crystals) forming, and your chocolate will bloom. To simplify, it will appear dull and covered with white patches. It will also crumble rather than snap and “melt in your hands, not in your mouth”. Have you ever attempted home made candy during the holidays. I made a batch of caramel turtles years back that were scrumptious. However, they only looked scrumptious for about a day and half before they started turning whitish and ugly. That was before I knew about tempering which would have alleviated the problem... especially important when giving them out as gifts. Which I did. If chocolate blooming does occur, the chocolate is still okay to eat, just not as attractive as if you would have tempered it.

The Purpose of Tempering Chocolate To avoid this, you need to temper your chocolate. Tempering chocolate controls the crystals, so that only consistently small crystals are produced, resulting in a much better chocolate texture. I have, whenever possible, avoided the need to temper chocolate completely by rolling my truffles in sugar, cocoa or nuts. However, if the recipe requires it and you want your chocolate to be shiny & “snap able”, without a white bloom, then temper, you must.

How to Temper Chocolate

So, exactly how do I do this, you ask? Well, there are just a few things needed to begin. And, really, it’s not rocket science and it’s NOT difficult. A couple of quick tips and you'll be tempering like a pro. First, don’t temper less than one pound of chocolate at a time. It’s easier to work with larger batches to maintain the proper heat and it’s also easier tempering dark chocolate (no milk solids) than tempering milk chocolate. So, if this is your first “go” at tempering, try using chips and save the Sephra milk and white chocolate for later. Second, you’ll need a . Easy to purchase online or at a kitchen store. Simply read the description to make sure it’s a good fit for tempering chocolate or a chocolate thermometer. I always read the reviews, too. Don't want to throw my money away and customers are always brutally honest.

Here we go...

  • Set aside about a quarter of the chocolate chips you are tempering; you’ll need these later
  • Place ¾ of your Sephra dark chocolate chips into a microwave-safe bowl
  • Microwave on 50% power for 30-45 seconds at a time, give a stir and continue to heat until the chocolate is melted and smooth
  • Bring the chocolate to 115 degrees Fahrenheit (46 C)
  • When working with milk or white chocolate, bring the milk or white chocolate to 110 degrees Fahrenheit (43 C)
  • However, with dark chocolate…if it’s not 115 degrees, heat in short bursts (like 5 seconds, no more) until it reaches temperature, but don’t let it go above 115 degrees
  • Keep in mind… Chocolate burns so easily and then it really gets ugly
  • Now add the remaining tempering chocolate chips you saved and stir constantly to incorporate it into the melted chocolate
  • The newly added chocolate chips will bring down the temperature (thus tempering …get it?) of the whole batch
  • For dark chocolate you want your ultimate perfect temp to be 90 degrees Fahrenheit (32 C)
  • For milk or white chocolate your perfect temp is 87 degrees Fahrenheit (30 C)
  • Test your chocolate. Smear a small amount of chocolate on waxed paper and see if it sets. Properly tempered chocolate should begin to set in just a few minutes
  • It will lose its shine and take on a matte look, then it will start to set around the edges. At cool room temperature, a streak of tempered chocolate should set within 4-6 minutes. (Don’t be tempted to put in the refrigerator, this will not tell you if the chocolate is actually in temper)
Using Tempered Chocolate Now that you've tempered your chocolate, you must keep it warm but not hot, ideally in the 85-88 Fahrenheit degree range while working with it. You can keep it warm over a pan of warm water, but Alton Brown suggested using a regular “heating pad”, which I thought was genius. (We all have a well-used heating pad lurking in the linen closet somewhere.) Place a towel between the heating pad (set on low) and the bowl. Stir the chocolate often to main uniform temperature while you’re using it. Now you’re off and running to make all the chocolate goodies your heart desires.

Always Use Good Quality Chocolate

So this is a bit of a sidebar here, but if you’re not familiar with Sephra Chocolate – I want you to be. There are many things you can do with Sephra Chocolate. Of course, we started in 2003 to create the best chocolate fountain chocolate; and worked with one of the world’s finest chocolatiers to formulate the perfect recipe for fondue chocolate. The thought of adding oil to our chocolate, like other chocolate fondues out there, was just unthinkable! As the years passed, we realized we had the finest chocolate to do most everything. Sephra Chocolate Chips are ideal to use as baking chocolate. You can confidently use Sephra dark chocolate for some of the best chocolate chip cookies EVER. Stir into hot milk for some sensational “hot” cocoa. If I am making a cake or batch of brownies I always throw a handful of Sephra chocolate chips into the batter before baking. It just adds a bit of chocolately deliciousness and makes everything more moist. Of course, there is no question about how flawlessly it runs in our Sephra Chocolate Fountains; thousands of caterers, world-wide, would use nothing else. So by tempering Sephra chocolate, you’re now preparing it for candy making, frosting ganache (oh, give me a bowl and a spoon, please) or taking it to the “next level” as the term goes. We find the tempered chocolate is luscious as a chocolate coating on our , the newest "IT" product to our Sephra line. The Belgian or Premium Brands are outstanding, but must be tempered to keep their rich glossy color. If you’re not in the mood to temper, try the Sephra Melts – ideal for candy making without tempering.

Give Tempering a Try

So next time you're tempted to not temper because you, like I did, have a fear of tempering, DO IT. It's really interesting and fun and will really make your chocolate recipe extra delish!

Compound Chocolate: What are Chocolate Melts?

What are ? We receive many inquiries each day regarding the differences between couverture chocolate and compound coating. Simply put, Compound chocolate uses vegetable fats in place of the cocoa butter used to make 'real' chocolate. Given the common reference to both as 'chocolate,' it is important to make the distinction between 'real' chocolate and chocolate melts. In this article, we will highlight the unique characteristics of chocolate melts and their most suitable applications. [caption id="attachment_3153" align="aligncenter" width="1675"]

Key Differences between Couverture and Compound Chocolate[/caption]

Defining Compound Chocolate


Understanding Chocolate Regulations

  The FDA stipulates that to bear the label “chocolate,” the product's fat must derive solely from cocoa butter and dairy fat. This ensures that 'real' chocolate possesses the distinctive “melt-in-your-mouth” sensation due to cocoa butter's unique melting point. By U.S. standards, only products with cocoa solids, cocoa butter, and dairy fat earn the chocolate title. However, the European Union's regulations diverge, allowing up to 5% of alternate vegetable fats in genuine chocolate.  

The Lowdown on Compound Chocolate

  Compound Chocolate stands apart, opting for vegetable fats over cocoa butter. Frequently employed fats include the semi-solid varieties like coconut oil and palm kernel oil. This choice significantly reduces costs since vegetable fats come cheaper than cocoa butter. Notably, compound chocolate requires no tempering, sidestepping challenges like fat bloom, which mars the appearance of untempered true chocolate. Despite these advantages, it doesn’t mirror the lustrous finish of genuine, tempered chocolate. Compound chocolates share a foundational recipe: cocoa solids, vegetable fats, and sweeteners. Milk varieties integrate milk solids, with some variants also including added flavors, colors, and essential emulsifiers to maintain consistency.  

White Chocolate vs. White Chocolate Coating

  In a twist, “White Chocolate” isn’t true chocolate, as it lacks cocoa solids. Instead, a "White Chocolate coating" comprises sugar, vegetable fat, milk, whey, emulsifiers, and flavorings. Primarily, chocolate melts are presented in forms such as chips, melts, or discs, ensuring efficiency in packaging, marketing, transportation, and consumer application.  

Handling, Storage, Heating and Use of chocolate melts

  At a glance, chocolate melts bear a striking resemblance to genuine chocolate chips or discs. Please note that tempering isn't a requirement for compound chocolate. Additionally, their distinct texture differs from the coveted "mouth feel" true chocolate enthusiasts seek. This distinction arises because the fats in chocolate melts possess a notably higher melting threshold. For optimum storage, place chocolate melts in an environment that is both cool and devoid of moisture, steering clear of any extreme heat and dampness. A word to the wise: refraining from refrigerating or freezing both couverture and compound chocolates is imperative. Doing so risks condensation, leading to moisture infiltration, which can compromise the chocolate's integrity, making it gritty and uneven upon melting. Diving deeper into specifics, compound chocolate has a melting curve that's marginally elevated—about 5-10 degrees Fahrenheit—compared to couverture chocolate. This curve ranges from 103 to 108 degrees, peaking at 118 to 123 degrees Fahrenheit. Maintaining this temperature spectrum over a prolonged duration is feasible; however, periodic agitation is crucial to circumvent any charring or uneven heat distribution. If one employs the melts in a chocolate fountain, agitation becomes redundant. But, a caveat with couverture chocolate: the milk and white variations demand extra caution since their dairy elements render them susceptible to scalding under intense heat.  

Chocolate melts ingredients



Sugar is a sweetener. It also adds texture and body to a recipe in which it is an ingredient. The word “Sugar” implies derivation from cane or beet sources.

Vegetable Fat

Replaces the cocoa butter used in couverture chocolate. The substitution of vegetable fat for cocoa butter results in a considerable cost savings. Vegetable fats used may include coconut oil and palm kernel oil.


The cacao tree produces a dried, partially fermented seed essential for chocolate making. Cocoa is a robust powder, obtained by grinding these seeds and separating the cocoa butter from the dark, bitter solids.

Milk Powder

This is the “milk” component in milk chocolate melts and a primary ingredient in white coating chocolate. This is an animal product with implications for those with milk protein allergies, vegans and vegetarians.

Soy Lecithin

Used commercially in products requiring a natural emulsifier and/or lubricant. Lecithin is the emulsifier that keeps cocoa and cocoa butter in a candy bar from separating.


Vanilla is a generic term describing the flavor essence associated with the pod of certain orchids of the genus vanilla.  

Uses of Chocolate Melts

  Compound chocolate is a favorite in the chocolate world, especially for molding candies. Its affordability and ability to set without the need for tempering make it a top pick for hobbyist chocolatiers. While its flavor might not match true chocolate's richness, its taste remains appealing. In chocolate fountains, compound chocolate stands as a viable alternative to couverture chocolate, offering notable cost savings for businesses like catering services and restaurants. Its use mirrors that of couverture chocolate. For confectioners and bakers dipping items, such as strawberries or cookies in chocolate, compound chocolate is the go-to. It's unique in that it hardens into a shell at room temperature, eliminating the need for tempering. However, in baking, it doesn’t retain its shape like commercial chocolate chips designed to withstand oven temperatures.  

Sephra Chocolate Melts

  Sephra coined the phrase "chocolate melts" for our compound coating range. Both to distinguish them from our Belgian and Premium couverture chocolate ranges, and to highlight their perfect suitability for use in chocolate fountains, candy-making and dipping. You can taste the difference yourself over at our website -