Chocolate Molds: Tempering and Pouring

Having experimentally determined that tempering molten chocolate is not optional (i.e., chocolate doesn’t behave just like butter), I tried a cheat discussed in the comments following that helpful post. Basically, because all retail chocolate is already tempered, you can get good results by carefully heating it to the proper temperature, then pouring it into the molds… the proper crystals remain in their places, the cooled chocolate has good snap, and you avoid a huge amount of fuffing and fawing.

Not having a sous vide setup, but also not working with giant chocolate blocks, I simply filled a big ceramic pot with tepid water:

Chocolate tempering - water bath
Chocolate tempering – water bath

Note that the gas burner under the pot is off: the pot’s on the stove because it fit nicely next to the countertop.

A small metal pot sits out of sight on the burner to the left. Goosed with low heat as needed, that pot provided warm water: I moved a cup of tepid water to the metal pot, moved a cup of slightly warmer water back to the ceramic pot, and repeated as needed. As it turned out, the big pot held its heat quite well and the whole process went swimmingly, with the water temperature at 90±1°F, tops.

The Official Tempering Numbers seem to be:

  • Dark chocolate: 88 – 90°F
  • Milk chocolate: 86 – 88°F

I suppose I should have used slightly cooler water for the milk chocolate shown in the picture, but it came out Just Fine.

I used Nestlé Toll House Chocolate Morsels for lack of anything better. As nearly as I can tell, cheaper chocolate isn’t really chocolate and fancier chocolate seemed like a Bad Idea until I’ve made a few more mistakes. One bag each of Milk, Dark, and Semi-Sweet sufficed for my simple needs.

The ziplock baggie holds 50 g of chocolate chunks / morsels / whatever, which turned out to be exactly the right amount to fill 16 Tux mold cavities with a 5 mm maximum depth, plus a little bit for the inevitable mess. Sometimes, I just get lucky…

Put chocolate chunks into bag, squeeze out as much air as possible, seal, drop in the pot. Wait a few minutes until it’s not quite completely melted, remove, dry the bag, squeeze out the rest of the air, then knead until it’s all mooshy.

Then cut off one corner of the bag, squeeze chocolate into mold cavities, and flatten the back. I started by easing it into the beak and eyes, filling the tummy, then piling enough to cover everything else. This worked surprisingly well, although the ziplock can unlock if you squeeze hard enough; cut the corner a little bit larger than seems necessary.

Memo to Self: tape the ziplock part of the bag closed to prevent bloopers.

I used a plastic scraper (well, an unused credit card, if you must know) to moosh the chocolate into the cavity and level the back. There doesn’t seem to be much to choose between doing one cavity at a time or a whole row in one pass, although filling more than one row lets the first lump get too cool.

I worried about the chocolate in the bag getting too cool, until I realized that my fingers are hotter than the tempering bath, so, if anything, it would get too hot.

The result came out surprisingly tidy:

Tux Gradient 4x4 - milk chocolate in mold
Tux Gradient 4×4 – milk chocolate in mold

The silicone block sits atop an aluminum pizza pan, which I transported to the basement for cooling while filling and melting the next bag; the chocolate popped right out of the cavities at about 70°F.

The result looked pretty good to me:

Tux Gradient 4x4 - milk chocolate detail
Tux Gradient 4×4 – milk chocolate detail

The detail come out fine and if anybody kvetches about a few bubbles, they don’t get any more.

From left to right, Tux in milk, semi-sweet, and dark chocolate:

Tux Gradient - milk semi-sweet dark lineup
Tux Gradient – milk semi-sweet dark lineup

The semi-sweet Tuxes began to bloom almost instantly. I had heated the silicone mold to about 90°F in an attempt to keep the chocolate melty enough to fill 16 cavities before leveling them all at once, but I think it was too hot on the bottom; the four center pieces bloomed right out of the mold and a few others bloomed shortly thereafter.

The bloom highlights the mold detail, though:

Tux Gradient - semi-sweet chocolate bloom
Tux Gradient – semi-sweet chocolate bloom

I quickly destroyed all the evidence…

Each Tux weighs 2.5 to 3 g. You do the calorie count yourself, OK?