Confessions of a Culinary Student: Tempering Chocolate

Culinary school requires a lot of time, money and pressure, so we asked culinary students for their No. 1 “ah-ha!” moment or takeaway from class so you can benefit from what they learned — without enrolling.

Culinary Student: Sarah Balke
School: Culinary Institute of America, Associates in Baking and Pastry Arts, Nov. 9, 2012

Confession: The moment when tempering chocolate suddenly made sense to me was like a curtain being lifted. In order for melted chocolate to set without streaks and to have a creamy texture, you have to bring its temperature up and down while stirring, which rearranges its crystalline structure. This technique is called tempering and can be difficult to master. To truly make a beautiful temper, I had to learn the science behind it; understanding exactly what I was doing to the chocolate and why gave me the clarity to make a high-quality product. Before I actually studied the science of chocolate, it was my least-favorite medium to work with, but since chocolates class, it’s now one of my favorites. It was a moment that reaffirmed my desire to go to culinary school: to learn the why, and the science, behind food.

For more on the high-pressure ups and downs of culinary school, tune in to The Freshman Class every Monday at 10:30pm ET

More Chocolate Basics

Bonus: Get Alton Brown’s secrets for tempering chocolate in your microwave.

More Confessions of a Culinary Student