If you or your family consists of chocoholics and find yourselves spending a lot on chocolate treats, maybe it’s time to start making your own at home. If it sounds daunting, don’t worry because it’s not once you learn the process. Buying decent chocolate bars or buttons, melting it at home and making truffles or chocolate dipped fruit and other bites or just decorating a dessert will turn out cheaper in the long run. If you want to make the process as easy and foolproof as possible, then getting the best chocolate tempering machine for home use is a good idea.
You may find using a chocolate melting and tempering machine so much fun that you could soon make delicious gifts for friends and family and maybe even turn it into a small run from your own kitchen.
What is the Best Chocolate Tempering Machine for Home Use?
- Our top pick: Cuisinart CFO-3SS Electric Fondue Maker
- Runner up: ALDKitchen Chocolate Melting Pot
- Budget pick: Nostalgia 6-Cup Stainless Steel Electric Fondue Pot
Tempered Vs Untempered Chocolate
But first, do you even need to temper chocolate or can you just melt it and then let it harden into whatever you want? If you’re just making a pot for fondue where the dipping chocolate is not supposed to harden around the food, then just keeping the chocolate at a melted consistency is easy. You don’t even need to temper chocolate if it’s only going to be used for ganache or to cover a chocolate cake.
Where tempering is an absolute must is if you’re making covered strawberries or marshmallows, chocolate truffles or candies, or decorating cakes and treats in patterns.
So what is the difference between tempering chocolate and melting chocolate? Tempering makes the chocolate harden at room temperature and stay hardened until it’s eaten. It will look smooth and glossy and will snap cleanly if you try to break a piece. If you touch it, it won’t feel tacky or start melting. Both refer to a singular phenomenon – liquefying. To make things clearer, we’ll throw some science at you.
Melted non-tempered chocolate that’s left to harden appears to have a grainy or curdled texture when observed under a microscope. This happens because its molecules separate and form a liquid that has a loose molecular structure. Melting chocolate means just that – warming chocolate to a temperature that melts it to a liquid form that’s easy to work with.
Tempering chocolate simply bonds the molecules tightly, forming a smooth and glossy liquid. Its microscopic appearance is unblemished and glazed. Tempering typically warms it to just enough to melt, then slowly lowering its temperature either by constantly stirring it off the heat or by adding some more solid chocolate into the melted mass, and then finally warming it just a touch more to reach the ideal tempered but still liquefied state.
What is a Chocolate Tempering Machine?
A tempering machine for chocolate is used to heat it to a specific temperature, cool down, and reheat to form stable molecular crystals that give the chocolate a smooth and glazed look. It will stay firm but melt instantly while consuming.
Commercial chocolate melting equipment consists of a computerized keypad to set and monitor the temperature. It also has a heating pan with an attached mixer to keep mixing the melted chocolate for equal distribution of heat.
How Does a Chocolate Tempering Machine Work?
Chocolate tempering machines are a boon for dessert connoisseurs. It can keep the chocolate tempered for long hours without damaging the crystal formation. It saves you the hassle of constantly checking and adjusting the temperature, whisking the melted chocolate, and simultaneously making the dessert.
The commercial machines have a heating bowl that is also fitted with a refrigerant compressor to speed up the cooling phase. The process maintained by an automated system with sensors that regulates the temperature precisely. The agitation or stirring of the chocolate is also automatic.
However, commercial tempering machines are bulky and expensive, so there are other more practical ways to do it at home as described below.
How Do You Temper Chocolate at Home?
There are a few different ways to temper chocolate at home and they can be categorized into two: with or without using specialized equipment. However, all methods require a food thermometer at the minimum.
Whether you use a tempering machine, sous vide machine, double boiler or the microwave method, you should understand how to work with the chocolate and at what key temperatures various types of chocolates change properties during the tempering process.
If you don’t use a sous vide machine, tempering machine or electric adjustable melting pot, you could use your microwave or set up a double boiler. Dark, milk and white chocolate all temper at different temperatures, so it’s important to know them beforehand.
In the microwave method, you put the entire lot of chocolate in a glass or plastic bowl and microwave it in several short bursts while stirring and measuring the temperature in between. You raise the temperature to a certain level to melt it, then cool it by stirring and adding seed chocolate, and then raising it to another temperature level while stirring again.
This method is probably the easiest if you don’t have any other equipment beyond a thermometer as long as you take care not to let the chocolate burn. It may take a few tries in the beginning to get it right because each microwave is different. You’ll have to pop the bowl back into the microwave for a few seconds everytime the chocolate hardens too much to work with and that’s when it’s tricky to ensure it doesn’t go out of temper by over-microwaving it.
The double boiler method is the most popular, and as long as you keep measuring the temperature of the chocolate, you can get it right the first time. However, ensuring that water condensation doesn’t seize up the chocolate requires careful handling of the set up. Maintaining the chocolate in temper and at a workable consistency while making truffles, chocolate covered goodies, etc can be tricky.
For either method, check out this detailed guide to tempering chocolate at home.
Using a sous vide machine provides you with foolproof chocolate tempering but unless you already do sous vide cooking at home, you’ll have to buy one of these to use it for tempering chocolate.
A chocolate tempering machine is what commercial establishments use but they have large machines that can handle several hundred pounds of chocolate at a time. They have an inbuilt thermostat to regulate the various temperature levels needed for the process and an automatic agitator.
However, there are a few portable tempering or chocolate melting machines that are more compact and lighter and designed for home use to make small batches of tempered chocolate. This is the kind that we’ll cover in this article on chocolate melting machine reviews.
Home tempering machines are really electric melting pots with a temperature regulator and are very inexpensive to buy. While you can adjust the temperature through the whole process, it’s best to use a thermometer every once in a while to ensure that you keep within recommended ranges for each phase. Many of these machines are designed to be fondue pots but they can double up as a manual tempering machine quite well. You will have to do your own stirring at the right points before using the chocolate but it will be easier that doing it on the stovetop or microwave.
Best Table Top Chocolate Tempering Machine for Home Use
Cuisinart CFO-3SS Electric Fondue Maker
The Cuisinart CFO-3SS Electric Fondue Maker consists of a non-stick coated 3 quart stainless steel bowl with non-stick interior. Other parts include a stainless steel stand, fork support ring, and a removable temperature control. All components, including the magnetic cord, can easily be disassembled.
It has 8 levels of temperature regulation and works on 1000 watts of power. The temperature rises quickly and there’s no inner pot for indirect heating, so it’s best to start heating at a very low setting to prevent scorching. Most customers suggest level 4 for melting chocolate and level 2 for keeping it warm for prolonged periods. It takes approximately 10-15 minutes for the fondue maker to heat oil up to 375°F.
The ring fits atop the bowl to hold the stainless steel forks in place. It is designed with spacing to accommodate the forks. When using this for tempering, you can use any of the ring notches to hold your stirrer. The whole device is lightweight and sits perfectly over the stainless steel stand/trivet.
Reviews suggest that it’s relatively easy to clean. The cord is removable; hence, it’s dishwasher safe. Ideally, you should wait for the pot to cool down before cleaning. Cleaning should be done with mild dishwasher soap and sponge. This ensures that the non-stick coating stays intact.
The whole setup measures 6.12″ x 10.50″ x 7.00″.
The power cord is quite short so you will need to place it very close to a power outlet or use an extension cord.
The cost of this appliance is good considering its versatility as a chocolate melting/tempering device and as a fondue pot for chocolate, cheese or oil. It is also convenient to use and is a quality product. The 3 year warranty adds to the assurance of a big brand, Cuisinart.
Nostalgia 6-Cup Stainless Steel Electric Fondue Pot with Temperature Control
The Nostalgia 6-Cup Stainless Steel Electric Fondue Pot is a much smaller melting pot with a capacity of 1.5 quarts and comes with a blue-lit temperature control dial located near the base of the stainless steel stand. The maximum temperature setting reaches 350°F. It won’t be suitable for oil-based fondues but is perfect for cheese and tempering chocolate.
The stainless steel pot and base are built for longevity and presentation and can hold up to 3 pounds (approximately 6 cups) of fondue. The strong Bakelite handles remain cool even if the pot is steaming hot. You also get 6 color coded fondue forks that fit perfectly in the notches of the ring. You can use your own thermometer and stirrer instead when you’re tempering chocolate.
All the detachable parts, including the pot, can go in the dishwasher for easy cleaning but because the pot is not non-stick it’s best to soak it in warm soapy water first. For melting cheese you may even need to spray the inside with oil before melting the cheese.
Many customers have complained about the size of the fondue maker, however, it is the best small batch chocolate tempering machine and least expensive, as the maximum serving capacity it holds is just 4 to 5 cups. Keep this in mind while making the purchase. The temperature control can be temperamental at times so it’s best to only use the lower settings for chocolate so as to not risk burning the chocolate it at higher settings. It’s perfect for beginners to practice their chocolate tempering skills.
Artestia Electric Fondue Set
On the surface, the Artestia Electric Fondue Set with Two Pots looks a lot like the Nostalgia fondue pot above. However this Artesia chocolate melting machine comes with two pots – an outer stainless steel 2.6 quart (2500 ml) pot and a removable inner 1 quart (1000 ml) ceramic insert pot.
This design makes it a double boiler, which is perfect for tempering chocolate. If you use the larger outer pot alone, it heats up rather quickly and will ruin the chocolate. Many users advise melting the cheese and chocolate in the ceramic bowl set inside the outer bowl instead of just using one or the other bowl. Many others used the stainless steel bowl alone for for oil fondue, which needs to be heated to a much higher temperature.
There’s a temperature control knob on the heating base for easy temperature setting. You also get 8 stainless steel color-coded forks for convenient dipping and a stainless steel splash cover with circular cut outs to hold the forks or your stirrer or temperature probe.
Easy to maintain and clean. The stainless steel outer bowl can be put in a dishwasher, however, it is not advisable to do that with the ceramic inner bowl. That can be easily washed with warm soapy water.
The ceramic pot is also sold separately.
ALDKitchen Chocolate Melting Pot and Tempering Machine
The ALDKitchen Chocolate Melting Pot is about as close as you can get to a proper chocolate tempering setup but with dry heat instead of water heating. Its power rating is 40 watts. The stainless steel base with heating pad holds a non-stick pan with 1.2 kg (2.6 lbs) capacity so that you get uniform heat without the need for much stirring. There’s a red on and off button and the simple dial control goes from 30-85C (86-185F). You need to keep a thermometer handy to gauge the precise temperature.
The pan heats rather slowly but this means that it will be almost impossible to ruin your chocolate with excessive heat. Once the desired tempering temperature is reached, it is good at keeping the chocolate at that level for a long time while you make your treats. This is probably the biggest advantage if this home chocolate tempering machine, as you can continue with your molding or dipping tasks uninterrupted.
The pan is detachable and can be cleaned easily by hand. You can detach the cords too for cleaning the heating base.
It is perfect for home use, given the compact size and power-saving capability. If you want to run a home chocolate making business, and the capacity is not enough for you, you have the option to buy a double tank model that has double the capacity.
ALDKitchen Manual Control Chocolate Melter with 2/3/4 Tanks
If the capacity of the single or double pan tempering machine above is not enough for your needs, then there’s also the ALDKitchen Manual Control Chocolate Melter with 2, 3 or 4 tanks.
A water heating system through inlet and outlet valves ensures even heating of the chocolate in tanks above. Regulator controlled heat settings on the pain panel and green and orange indicators are provided. The orange indicator denotes the heating of water, and as it reaches the desired temperature, the green indicator lights up. The range provided is 0-80 C and the power rating is 1KW. It is perfect for melting chocolate, caramel and cheese and keeping chocolate at temper for a long time.
The 2 tank machine can melt approximately 4kgs of chocolate in one go. Each additional tank model holds another 2 kg. This is a large chocolate tempering machine so if you want to use it in a home setup, make sure you know where you’re going to place it first.
The containers are made of stainless steel. They can be removed from the heating cavity to be cleaned properly.
When first heating the chocolate, the temperature is raised to its highest allowable point. Depending on the type of chocolate, the ideal temperatures are: Dark 120°F, Milk 115°F, White 110°F.
The middle stage of cooling should be at the following temperatures: Dark 82°F, Milk 80°F, White 78°F.
Tempering then finally happens at these ideal ranges: Dark 88-90°F (31C-32°C), Milk 86-88°F (29C-30°C), and white 82-84°F (28C-29°C).
To prevent the chocolate from going out of temper, it must be stirred regularly and constantly kept at its ideal temper level. If it goes out of temper you’ll have to start the tempering process again.
Take a spoon, knife or spatula and dip it into the chocolate. Let it rest at room temperature of about 65F to 70F to allow it to harden. If you check after 3-5 minutes it should be nice and dry to the touch and your finger will be clean. The layer coating the utensil will look smooth, with no streaks or pebbly texture. You should also be able to easily remove the layer by breaking it and without it melting.
Any chocolate that has actual cocoa butter in it can be tempered. However, the percentage in different types varies.
Dark Chocolate: This is the easiest chocolate to temper because it has the highest percentage of cocoa butter and lowest percentage of milk solids in it. This makes is very stable, so tempering gives it a nice snap when you break it.
Milk Chocolate: It has a higher percentage of milk solids and lower amount of cocoa butter than dark, so it will have a lower melting point and you’ll have to be more careful while tempering it.
White Chocolate: This doesn’t have any cocoa solids – only a small percentage of cocoa butter and a lot of milk solids – so its melting point is very low and can scorch easily. It won’t have a snap when you break into it.
Featured Photo by Lisa Fotios from Pexels
Tempering Chocolate: “tempering chocolate” by Stacy Spensley is licensed under CC BY 2.0