How-To & Diy

How to Temper Chocolate in the Microwave

February  6, 2014

Inspired by conversations on the Food52 Hotline, we're sharing tips and tricks that make navigating all of our kitchens easier and more fun.

Today: Let your microwave do more than reheat dinner.

Temper chocolate from Food52

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Chocolate. Like a leading lady in an old Hollywood film, chocolate is seductive, slightly mysterious, and always perfect -- and, naturally, a little temperamental to work with.

Perhaps you have thought of making your own chocolates, bark, or truffles, but stopped when you got to the part of the recipe that read “temper the chocolate...” What is tempering, why does chocolate need to be tempered, and what’s this about a double boiler? Most importantly, is there an easier way? Why yes, there is. Read on.

Chocolate pretzels from Food52

In Good Temper

Here’s the science: Chocolate is made up various crystals. If they are not aligned correctly, chocolate will not have that nice, glossy snap when it sets, and will streak and “bloom,” developing a white, sandpaper-like exterior made of cocoa butter. Tempering chocolate by heating, stirring, and cooling aligns the chocolate crystals so that the chocolate sets up correctly when it hardens. Traditionally, one step involved melting chocolate over a double boiler, which adds time and runs the risk of moisture -- chocolate kryptonite -- getting on the chocolate.

This time, it’s easy. With little more than a bowl, a spatula, and a microwave, you can have perfectly tempered chocolate, every time.

Here's how to temper chocolate in the microwave.

You will need: a spatula, glass bowl, microwave, 12 ounces of good-quality dark chocolate (not chocolate chips, which have added ingredients), and a good, accurate thermometer with a range as low as 70°F. (Since you have to end up in a very specific temperature range, a good thermometer is key.)

Read more: How to Choose Your Chocolate.

Now, chop the chocolate into small pieces. Divide the chocolate into 2 batches: 8 ounces into a small glass bowl, and 4 ounces set aside for later. 

Temper chocolate from Food52

Put the 8 ounces into the microwave and melt on high in 20 to 30 second bursts, stirring gently, until it is melted and glossy, in between 114 to 118° F. You may even need to microwave in 5-second bursts toward the end. The goal is to hit the temperature "sweet spot" and not burn or overheat the chocolate. 

This range is different for milk and white chocolate. Milk chocolate should be melted to between 108 and 113° F; white chocolate’s range is 105 to 110° F. White can burn very easily -- be careful.

Next, begin "seeding" the melted chocolate by adding the reserved chocolate pieces, a bit at a time, stirring gently.

Temper chocolate from Food52

The seeding and stirring will realign the chocolate crystals into temper. Stir and seed until the temperature of the chocolate is 88 to 89° F, and the seeding pieces are fully melted. Milk and white chocolate should cool to 85 to 86° F. Done! 

Temper chocolate from Food52

Your chocolate is now in temper. Work with the chocolate in its tempered range. If it starts cooling too much, you can microwave it at half power to bring it back up. 

Chocolate from Food52

What do you like to dip in chocolate? Let us know in the comments!

See what other Food52 readers are saying.

  • Kathleen
  • esther
  • Acacia Rideout
    Acacia Rideout
  • Ann DeLong
    Ann DeLong
  • L Kaylor
    L Kaylor
Recovering lawyer, food writer, pastry chef, and lover of food-related everything (namely: cheese, baked goods, and anything made by Mom)


Kathleen May 23, 2015
Does anyone know can I temper chocolate on granite or quartz as well on marble countertops? Getting a new one soon. Would like some advice! Thanks for any help. :-)
esther May 20, 2015
Please include the information about dark chocolate......
Acacia R. July 15, 2014
Ann D. March 27, 2014
biscotti, I'll have to try that good to know what "temper" means
L K. February 10, 2014
M chocolate wouldn't set until I chilled my toffee in the fridge first. Now it seems to be set even at room temperature. I used a small probe thermometer. I am sure a laser thermometer would be perfect here!
Mary February 10, 2014
I found silicone bowls to work better for melting chocolate -- they don't heat up the same way glass bowls will and are less likely to scorch the chocolate.
L K. February 10, 2014
I like that idea!
L K. February 9, 2014
Jeff R. February 9, 2014
Tempering dark chocolate is the main info in the article. The info for milk and white chocolate is included after the specifics for the dark chocolate.
Nancy M. February 9, 2014
How do you "temper" dark chocolate in the microwave? You listed perfect temperatures to reach for milk chocolate and for white chocolate only in your beautiful description of "How to Temper Chocolate in the Microwave".
Thanks so much!! Nancy M.
Susan S. February 9, 2014
Thank you! I have a few recipes that call for dipping in chocolate but only recently did I hear about tempering and yes, it sounded very off putting. I WILL try this. I'm thinking of the chocolate dipped bacon, which I haven't tried to make yet. This should help! :)
Alan C. February 8, 2014
I like fruit and dip it .
Orto I. February 7, 2014
I reblog on my this interesting article. Thank you.
HalfPint February 6, 2014
@Lisa, I think I love you!
Brette W. February 6, 2014