Tempering chocolate--wtf?

I'm doing research on tempering chocolate and finding huge discrepancies between different sources. Some folks say to heat the chocolate--whether it's dark, milk, or white--to 115F. Some give different temps for the initial melting/heating depending on whether it's dark, milk, or white. Some say you don't need to heat the chocolate, no matter what type, above 95F--that you just need to melt it.

Then, some sources say that, after the initial melting/heating step, that you only need to let the chocolate cool to a specific temp--say, 90F for dark chocolate. But other sources say you need to cool the chocolate down to 82F, then increase the temp to around 88-90F. So raise the temp first, then lower it, then raise it again. Each of the sources I'm looking at seem to be reputable, but the information is so all over the place that I don't know what to think!

Any clarity would be much appreciated.

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PieceOfLayerCake March 19, 2017
The short version of how I learned how to temper chocolate was, heat the chocolate to melt it, but never heat it over 115F. Then bring the temperature down to 81F by "seeding" it with a few pieces of well-tempered chocolate, then bring the chocolate back up to 88 - 90F and use to temper, without heating it additionally. The reasoning behind the drop in temperature is, if you keep your chocolate in "ideal" tempering range of 88 - 90F, it takes a long time for the proper crystal structure to form, by dropping it to 81F, the temper forms more quickly.

While I plan on giving chocolate work another go at some point in my life, it is truly the one sector of pastry/confection that I've steered clear of. Good for you for tackling this!
petitbleu March 20, 2017
Thanks so much for your answer! There seems to be an abundance of information on this subject, and most of it is contradictory! The best resource I've found is a book called Chocolates and Confections, by Peter Greweling (it's a Culinary Institute of America publication). His take on the seed method is that it's unnecessary to take the chocolate down to 82F because when you add tempered chocolate to the melted chocolate you are adding only Form-V crystals--this is, in his opinion, the advantage of the seeding technique.

Thanks so much for your reply!
PieceOfLayerCake March 20, 2017
Absolutely! I only have a cursory experience with chocolate work. I've only tempered once or twice since culinary school. I've never read the book you've mentioned, but it comes with very high reviews so I'd trust him. And remember, you can temper and retemper chocolate several times, so I'd encourage you to play around with it a bit. I know when I'm doing something very technique driven I start with a very rigorous method and then I try to see how far I can play around with it. It makes it easier to work with in the future.
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