Differentiating Couverture Chocolate from 'Baking' Chocolate

Joined Feb 26, 2016
 I have a very important question regarding chocolate & tempering. I have 4 different packaged brands of chocolate.

First is ,Guittard’s 12oz bag of Organic Bittersweet Chocolate Baking Wafers, with 74% cacao.

Second is, Valrhona 8.8oz  Dark Chocolate Bar, for baking, with 66% cacao.

Third is Baker’s Semi Sweet chocolate bars.

Last, Nestle’s Semi Sweet, chunk chocolate chips, found on local grocery shelf. Coco butter is 3[sup]rd[/sup]ingredient listed, after sugar and chocolate.

I’m attempting to make some chocolates for molding, &  dipping. Does any of those chocolates required tempering? Are they not already tempered, and all I need to do is melt them?  Or is my instinct right, they should be tempered to achieve the shiny, snapped goal of chocolate confections?

I used the Nestle chocolate chip in my Revolution 2, tempering machine, from ChocoVision. I’ve been successful in the past using this machine, but that was when using couverture chocolate, like Cocao Berry or Callebut. I followed complete instructions on tempering, the machine, accurately reached required temperatures for melting & tempering. It was the chocolate that became the disaster. It had a very thick viscosity, bloomed like terrible, and cracked/crumbled out of the molds, never really setting, as if it was under tempered. Well, I tried the same brand using the bain-marie method, the chocolate was still too thick, like soften ice cream. The temperatures of this dark chocolate never exceeded 119 degrees F, and reached its temper at 89 degrees F, using the Baker’s Semi Sweet bar as the seed. This time the chocolate would only harden, & stay harden only if placed in the refrigerator, &it remains too soft at room temperature. It has no snap.

What have I done wrong? Am I using the wrong chocolate? Did I use the wrong seed? If the package says ‘baking chocolates’, does that mean they are “only” for baking? Or must they be tempered if using for artisan chocolates? What to do? What to do?

I could use your expertise. If I am using the wrong chocolate, I will get the right chocolate. Thank you. I appreciate your response.
Joined Aug 14, 2012
Go back to using Cacao Barry or Callebaut, those are the types of chocolate you want to use for for molding. I've never used the Varina bar for baking you mentioned, but chocolate chips don't have much use beyond being included in a baked item, you would not use those for molding bonbons.

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Joined Oct 10, 2005
You need to read the ingredient list on the packaging.  If the list includes cocoa powder and "weird" fats OTHER than cocoa butter, it will only be good for chocolate chip cookies.  Think about it:  A cookie 1/2" thick goes into a 350 F oven for 20 minutes and the "chocolate" won't melt, lose it's shape, or show fat bloom when cold.
Joined Feb 26, 2016
Thank you for your response., Foodpump.

I have to admit, the Nestle & Baker's was suspect. That's what was so fun about this "Science of Pastry". All chocolates are not treated alike. I'm gonna go ahead and trust the Valrhona & the Guittard, because they kept it simple, and share the same ingredients as my favorites.

I think I panicked because I made my investment in the good chocolate, but when the 'cheap', grocery store Nestle, messed up, all I could think of was HELP,  I have pounds of filling that needs chocolate.

Thanks again.
Joined Feb 26, 2016
I love my Belgium chocolate, I have to say I'm biased.  But did have better success with the Guittard. Thanks for your help.
Joined May 5, 2010
To the original OP, Welcome to Cheftalk......

I have always been under the belief that ALL chocolate used for decorating needed to be tempered.

My pastry chef didn't own a tempering machine (probably because one hadn't be invented yet) and used a granite top bakers table for it.

After melting the coverture, she poured it on to the table top and used two pastry scrapers to work the chocolate, then scraped it back into the bowl to use for dipping, or molding or whatever.

If it got too cool, she had a simple Baine Marie nearby to bring it back.

We also used Valrhona 66% mixed with Callebaut milk chocolate. Sometimes I saw her add salad oil into the mixture for shine and viscosity.

The amount of cocoa butter in the chocolate is the most important thing here.

Too much and the chocolate seems to have problems setting and the tempering time is also affected.

Now take the Nestle's semi-sweet chocolate chips where the cocoa butter content is unknown and only through experiment were we able to figure that one out.

Normal tempering times didn't work, nor did the granite top technique.

The chocolate seized immediately.

We had to add cream and Karo syrup to the chocolate before it would behave for us.
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Joined Feb 26, 2016
Hello Chef Ross,

Thank your input. Using chocolate for decorating and for molding are two different applications. When using chocolate for decorating, such as for piping, let's say, it is not necessary to temper it. You can just  melt it & decorate on. But if using it for molding, dipping, or enrobing, yes you will need to temper it.

The method your pastry chef used is called tabling, where you cool & temper the chocolate on a marble slab, agitating with the scrapers. That's a good old school method. My tempering machine, quick & efficient, however, has me spoiled. /img/vbsmilies/smilies/crazy.gif

The problem I had was in the type of chocolate I was using. It was not coverture. However, if I had to thin it,  I'd would only use cocoa butter. Using any other oil, I will not get that 'snap' when biting into it, like cocoa butter does. Melting point is vitally important here, some oils melting at lower points than the cocoa butter, resulting in a too soft chocolate. Vegetable oils melt at a much higher point than cocoa butter, leaving that nasty coating on the tongue. 

Chocolates are like cats, they have their own temperament. And if you want to be happy with its results, you better get on board with its program.Thanks for responding. I'm so happy I found this forum.

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