Tempering Chocolate in the Microwave

Tempering Chocolate in the Microwave
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chocolate covered bear paws
Even with tempered chocolate, it seems to get everywhere.

Do you ever melt chocolate to coat something, perhaps caramel, or to use it to dip other items (say, sugar cookies), and are disappointed in how it doesn’t seem to harden? Instead of a hard shell, it stays soft and messy, melting onto your fingers as soon as your touch it. Well, if you’re like us, you’ve researched the matter, and found that your chocolate wasn’t in “temper.” And, you probably found difficult instructions on how to temper chocolate. We know we did. We’ve even tried it and told you about it. But, in that post, someone mentioned an easy way to temper chocolate. Really easy. So easy, it seemed as if it wasn’t true. However, we tried it, and found that it’s really easy to have perfectly tempered chocolate without double boilers, thermometers, or immersion blenders. Really!

So, let’s temper some chocolate!

Tempering Chocolate in the Microwave


  • 12-16 ounces chocolate

Abbreviated Instructions

Chop chocolate into small pieces and place in the bowl of a food processor. Process until finely chopped, and transfer to a microwave-safe bowl, reserving about 1/4 cup of the chopped chocolate.

Microwave in 30-second intervals, stirring with a spatula, until 2/3 of the chocolate is melted.

Use the spatula to stir and fold chocolate until it's smooth.

Test for temper by spreading a small amount of the chocolate on a piece of parchment. If it hardens nicely, the chocolate is ready; if not, stir in about 1/2 of the reserved chopped chocolate and test again.


Ingredient discussion:

We were busy making Bear Paws (our take on turtles) for the holidays, and we like to use a rich dark chocolate. In particular, 70% cacao from Callabaut. But, you should be able to use any chocolate that’s already in temper (basically in a bar form or solid piece). Note that chocolate chips are not just chocolate, but a variety of ingredients; we don’t know what would happen if you tried this technique with chips, but we don’t recommend it.

Procedure in detail:

finely chopped chocolate
If the pieces of chocolate are too big, you’ll have lumps in your tempered chocolate.

Finely chop chocolate. We start by chopping chocolate off a really big bar of chocolate: 5 kg, or 11 pounds. It’s a lot of chocolate, but we do go through the stuff. We simply take a chef’s knife, place the point of the knife near the edge, and use the heel of one hand to tap the knife into the chocolate, breaking off pieces. These pieces aren’t small enough, so place them in the bowl of a food processor and process until they’re all smaller than a pea. Don’t process so long that the chocolate starts melting, though.

Reserve seed chocolate. Just in case you overheat the chocolate, reserve just a bit of chopped chocolate for seeding. About 1/4 cup should be fine.

melting chocolate
At first it looks as if nothing’s happening, but the chocolate is starting to warm.
melting chocolate
It takes a few intervals of heating the chocolate; just keep at it.

Microwave. Transfer the chocolate into a microwave-safe bowl — we use a heavy Pyrex bowl — and microwave in 30-second increments. After each heating, use a spatula to stir the chocolate thoroughly. At first it won’t seem to be melting, but it’s getting warm. Continue heating and stirring until it looks as if about 2/3rds of the chocolate has melted. Remove from the microwave.

tempered chocolate
Once smooth, your chocolate should be ready to use and fully in temper.

Stir. Now, put a little elbow grease into stirring the chocolate. Continue stirring until all the chocolate is smooth and melted. It should just take a minute.

Fix (if needed). If you went too far in heating your chocolate, you might have to add just a bit of your reserved seed chocolate. The way to tell is to smear just a bit of the melted chocolate onto a piece of parchment or small plate. It should harden nicely within a minute. If not, your chocolate is out of temper, so add about half of your reserved seed chocolate and stir it in. Test again, adding more seed chocolate as needed.

Use. Simply dip, coat, or do whatever you planned, with your tempered chocolate. Since it’s in temper, it’ll harden up right at room temperature.

This is the only way to temper chocolate for us. It’s easy. It works. What’s not to like? Five stars!

Worth the trouble?

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