The process of mixing in a small portion of a hot liquid to eggs, creams, or chocolates helps to avoid a drastic heat change that could otherwise cause eggs and creams to curdle and chocolate to form dull gray streaks. This process reduces temperature extremes so that finished soups, sauces and confections remain smooth.

To temper eggs and creams simply whisk in small portions of the hot liquid into the cold. Whipping constantly, repeat until all the liquids have been combined or the tempered mix can be added to the to the hot liquid.

Chocolate contains to types of fat that melt at different temperatures. Cocoa butter is the fat that may form crystals after chocolate is melted and is the source of the unsightly features. Most commercially produced chocolates have already been tempered and you don’t need to worry unless you are melting the chocolate for fine decoration.

To temper chocolate the quick and easy way finely chop one-third of the chocolate needed and melt the remaining two-thirds to a temperature of 115 F and remove from heat. Add the remaining one-third chocolate, stirring constantly until the chocolate reaches 89 F.

To temper chocolate the proper way, melt all of the needed chocolate to a temperature of 115 F. Spread two-thirds of the chocolate on a marble slab working back and forth with a spatula until the temperature fall to about 80 F and the chocolate becomes thick. Return to the pot and reheat entire mixture to 85 F for milk chocolate, 85 F for white chocolate and 89 F for semi-sweet chocolate.

To expand or improve this reference page, click here.