What is Tempered Raw Chocolate?

What is Tempered Raw Chocolate?

Here at Elevated Cacao, we are proud to say that our product is the only TEMPERED raw + vegan + chocolate on the market in Bali. Raw chocolate can be found across the island in many cafes and shops, but in its un-tempered form, it must be kept in the refrigerator, eaten soon after purchase before it melts, and it is not ‘made to fly’—meaning taking it home with you to another country is not a possibility without a cooler.

Most of the chocolate you see in the supermarket is tempered. Tempering is the process of heating chocolate, which breaks down the crystal structure, then cooling it to reform more stable crystals. These stable crystals give you:

Shine, Snap, and Shelf Stability

I call these the three S’s. The most important S for us is Shelf Stable, especially here in Bali. Of course, all chocolate will melt in excessive heat, humidity or direct sunlight, but tempered chocolate will hold at much higher room temperatures than un-tempered chocolate.

Cacao butter (the fat in cacao beans) is the ingredient that needs tempering. It has a crystalline structure consisting of 6 forms of crystals (fatty acids), labelled as Form I to Form VI, each with individual stability and melting points. When making chocolate, the crystal you want to stabilise is Form V or Beta 2. Forms I to IV melt too easily, and have a dull matte appearance making them undesirable for chocolate. Form VI has a higher melting point, is difficult and timely to produce, and causes an unpleasant mouthfeel. This only leaves Form V, which has the perfect structure for the three S’s above. Whenever you melt chocolate, if the temperature exceeds 33 C (91.5F), the Form V crystal structure will deconstruct and the mixture will need to be tempered to rebuild and stabilize crystallisation.

Tempering is the process of heating chocolate, which breaks down the crystal structure, then cooling it to reform Form V crystals. It’s in the cooling phase that the crystallisation occurs. Constant movement of the chocolate is key in producing the perfect temper.

There are many ways to temper your chocolate from Simple (using surface area only during the cooling phase), Seeding (using previously tempered chocolate during the cooling phase to act as a starter for crystal formation), and Marbling (using the naturally cold surface of the marble to evenly drop temperature to form crystals).

This all sounds rather difficult but in actual fact, it’s quite easy, but does require some practice. Room conditions play an important part in achieving a solid temper. The cooler the better really. It is much harder (and takes a lot longer!) to temper in Summer rather than Winter. If you want to get technical, the perfect room temperature for tempering is under 20 C (68F) with a relative humidity of under 50%. 

In the raw world, the upper limit of melting chocolate is 42-45 C (107.5-113F) to retain superfood nutritional content. Chocolate comes into temper after cooling to 31.5 C (88F). All very technical but worth it to produce beautiful looking chocolate that will shine, snap and sit on the shelf without melting.