Where is your craft cannabis chocolate formulation most likely to fail?
There are a lot of different ways chocolate tempering can go wrong. Each of which results in a less than optimum (or downright disgusting) edibles product.
But don’t throw away that mistempered batch just yet! You can fix it. Keep reading and we’ll demystify this fundamental chocolate-making process.
First let’s unravel the magic of chocolate tempering and its significance in creating high-quality cannabis chocolate.
What is chocolate tempering?
At the heart of every delicious chocolate treat lies a fundamental technique we call tempering. Whether steel, polymer, or edible, tempering is about using controlled temperatures to align the chemical structure of something soft, so it solidifies to the optimal hardness.
For our purposes, this crucial process involves carefully heating, cooling, and agitating melted chocolate to stabilize its cocoa butter crystals.
Cocoa butter in chocolate can form multiple arrangements of crystals; but only one alignment creates that smooth and glossy texture that makes good chocolate so beautiful and lustrous. Tempering ensures the cocoa butter crystallizes uniformly, preventing the formation of those other crystal alignments that result in various undesirable attributes.
Good tempering is essential for crafting visually appealing and delectable cannabis chocolate products to stand out in the increasingly saturated edibles market.
Why tempering chocolate is important
What’s the big deal, right? People are just trying to get high…
Well if you feel that way, there’s a place for you in the market; but you’re probably not a great match for Elevated Edibles—and I’m surprised you’re still here!
But if you’re like us, you believe that edibles consumers deserve the best possible gourmet experience, whether they’re using it for medicine, or even just trying to get high.
Here are some ways good tempering makes better cannabis chocolate:
- Aesthetics: Tempering gives chocolate a nice shiny, glossy surface, making your edible chocolate visually enticing.
- Texture: It snaps when you break it, instead of bending, crumbling, or mushing. And the smooth, velvety mouthfeel of well-tempered chocolate enhances the sensory experience.
- Stability: Correctly tempered cannabis chocolate that’s stored and shipped properly can last much longer on the shelf.
- Consistency: Ideal tempering helps chocolate set uniformly and release easily from your molds; ensuring consistent shape, integrity, and clear brand marks for professional-looking edibles.
Try it yourself. Take a batch of chocolate and melt it down according to the temperatures below. Pour half of it into your molds, and then temper the other half. Compare & contrast.
What happens if you don’t temper chocolate correctly?
Skipping or improperly executing the chocolate tempering process can lead to disastrous outcomes, in terms of delivering a good product. Fatal for that batch—but remember, chocolate can always be retempered. It’s one of those few food products where “rework” is worth it, rather than throwing out product and starting over.
Here are some consequences of neglecting the tempering and cooling stage:
- Dull Appearance: Poorly tempered chocolate can have a matte, unattractive appearance, which may turn off consumers.
- Grainy Texture: Incorrectly tempered chocolate can feel gritty or lumpy in the mouth, which—yech!
- Poor Mouthfeel: Even if it’s not grainy, mistempering can lose the smoothness and creaminess that make good chocolate such an experience.
- Blooming: Failure to temper correctly can lead to blooming; those unsightly streaks, blots, or discoloration that compromise the visual appeal.
- Premature Solidification: In some cases, overtempering can cause chocolate to solidify too quickly, becoming stiff and lumpy; rendering it unusable for the edibles market.
But don’t worry! You can always fix badly tempered chocolate. You just need to melt it again and add more cocoa butter crystals (whether alone or in the form of already-tempered chocolate).
You have a couple different options for doing this:
How to temper cannabis chocolate
Whether starting from scratch or fixing a tempering problem, there are a few different methods you can use for chocolate tempering.
Which you choose depends on the scale of your outfit, the size of the batch, and what you’re looking for in a final outcome.
A beginner-friendly technique, and maybe the most common way to temper chocolate. Ideal for new batches of cannabis chocolate edibles. Every chocolate is a bit different, so you’ll need to find out the sweet spot for each of your formulations. But this is a good starting point.
Heat your chocolate recipe in a gentle double boiler or other even-temperature apparatus so it doesn’t stick and burn. Use a precise thermometer and stir to keep everything uniform—and don’t let any water at all get into the chocolate!
Slowly melt to 46°C (115°F) and remove from heat. Stir in cocoa butter crystals or pre-tempered chocolate callets while letting it cool to 29°C (84°F), or just until you see that it is starting to become slightly more viscous. Don’t cool it too much!
Then reheat to 31°C (88°F) before pouring into your molds. The added crystals act as a “seed” to initiate the proper crystal formation while the batch sets.
Read more detailed instructions at PopSci.
This method requires a polished stone surface, like marble or granite, to cool the chocolate rapidly. Pour a portion of your melted chocolate onto the surface and move it around with a palette knife until it starts to set up and gets a little viscous.
Scrape that back in the melted chocolate and stir it in. This brings the temperature down a bit overall—but it also adds some number of stable cocoa butter crystals to the mix.
The goal is you want to have the right proportion of small cocoa butter crystals to liquid cocoa butter. When you have that, it’s tempered chocolate.
Repeat patiently until the bowl of chocolate is tempered, and then pour into your mold.
How do you know it’s tempered without using a thermometer or a temper meter? See details about this thermometer-free chocolate tempering method at Patric Chocolate (our sister website).
This is the efficient and modern approach to tempering, for anyone with the means. Specialized machines (available for both small- and large-scale productions) precisely control the chocolate’s temperature as it goes through various heating and cooling cycles, ensuring the perfect crystallization of cocoa butter across multiple batches.
This method eliminates the need for constant manual monitoring and provides consistent results, making it a popular choice for professional chocolate makers and edibles manufacturers.
Warning: the machines can be finicky and expensive to repair…but that’s another story.
How to make the best cannabis chocolate
Want to achieve chef’s-kiss perfection in your cannabis-infused chocolate edibles? Tempering is a fundamental skill that separates mediocre chocolate edibles from extraordinary ones.
Understanding this culinary magic can help you delight your customers’ sensory experience beyond expectations (while also delivering the type of elevation they’re looking for).
Experiment with different tempering methods to find the one that works best for you.
But if you want to unlock the full potential of your cannabis chocolate edibles, consider enlisting the expertise of an edibles consultant (or a cannabis food scientist with two decades of experience in chocolate, hint hint).
Save yourself a bunch of time, hassle, and even straight-up money (solving expensive problems before they happen) by putting this delicate chocolate formulation process in the hands of an experienced professional. With an in-depth understanding of the scientific complexities of chocolate tempering, and the unique challenges of incorporating cannabis into edibles.
We can help you optimize your recipes & processes; elevate the taste & texture of your tantalizing trichome treats; and explore innovative ways to combine cannabis with chocolate and other natural flavors to create remarkable edibles together.
Ready for more? Reach out and tell me your cannabis chocolate hopes & dreams.