Is all tempered chocolate shiny?

Nope, sorry reader Jean. It’s glossier than chocolate that’s simply been melted and allowed to firm, but really shiny chocolate is a consequence of two things: good tempering and contact with a smooth surface. If you think about a chocolate bar, the shiny side is the top, the part that’s been in contact with the mold. The bottom is dull side, the part that was exposed to air as the bar cooled.

What does contact with a smooth surface to for tempered chocolate? It presses all the surface crystals down into a flat plane. Think of it this way: you can get great, stable cocoa butter crystals when you temper, but when you’re done they’re sticking out in all directions, like a head of unruly hair. Comb that head and all the individual hairs lay down pointing in the same direction. When cocoa butter crystals are oriented that way, they reflect light better, so the surface of the chocolate is shiny.

The main benefit of tempering, at least to my mind, it textural. Untempered chocolate is softer, waxier in the mouth and melts at a lower temperature. Which makes it less desirable for making forms.

2 thoughts on “Is all tempered chocolate shiny?”

  1. If I recall correctly, tempering also reduces the chances of chocolate “bloom” (that weird streaky stuff). If one was dipping things properly, perhaps it would eliminate it entirely, but I often get a bit of bloom at the end of dipping a batch of truffles or strawberries (maybe due to the introduction of moisture or the changes in temperature or who knows?).

    Also, it’s possible, albeit slightly ridiculous, to “polish” some chocolate with a bit of oil, shortening, or butter if you want a little extra shine (or if you’re aiming for a slightly darker color). It doesn’t make the molecules line up, but it acts a bit like furniture wax (isn’t that an appealing thought?). Just make sure that there isn’t any condensation on the chocolate first and that it has fully set.

    1. NICE. Love that, M. And yes, tempering does help eliminate cocoa butter streaks, though I still get a few faint ones from time to time. Thanks for the tips! – Joe

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