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Cocoa Butter Silk – Tempering Made Easy

By 16/03/2024March 18th, 2024No Comments
cocoa butter silk

Tempering chocolate can be a very difficult task. It’s a scientific process that requires specific factors in the chocolate, but, also, in the environment be met, in order for a successful temper to be achieved. During my time working in professional kitchens, I know many great cooks who shied away from tempering due it’s specific requirements.

Times have changed and tempering is easier now than it has ever been in history. Someone very clever figured out how to create a brilliant shortcut to tempering. It’s called Cocoa Butter Silk. Shortcuts in chocolate making are generally never a good idea. But silk, is always a good idea.

What is tempering?

If you’re going to temper chocolate it will be helpful to understand why it’s necessary and what it does to the chocolate. 

Tempered chocolate is snappy, shiny and contracts away from the mould.

Chocolate is formed of six different crystalline structures and the one we need for snappy, shiny chocolate is the beta crystal.

When chocolate is not in temper, you have all the different crystals present. Which is why the chocolate will bloom, feel and look crumbly, have a ‘fudgey’ consistency, melt in your hand and isn’t stable at room temperatures above 20-22c. 

I think of the crystals like puzzle pieces. If you don’t take the time to assemble them correctly, the pieces don’t fit, the completed puzzle is not stable and will fall apart and it doesn’t look right. 

The crystals in chocolate begin to separate at 33c-35c and completely separate when heated to above 45c, but no higher than 55c as the chocolate can burn. 

When we temper chocolate we heat it to 50c, mix it until it reach 28c and then bring it back up to 31.5c. This process eliminates the unwanted crystals and creates enough beta crystals to temper the chocolate. But it’s not generally that straightforward.

You can get all kinds of difficulties with tempering. Streaks, spots, the chocolate not contracting from the mould, chocolate melting at room temp etc… These are all generally tempering issues. Just because you follow the heating and cooling instructions doesn’t mean you’ll get a perfect finish.

Enter cocoa butter silk.

What is cocoa butter silk?

Cocoa butter silk is cocoa butter than is treated in such a way that it forms into beta crystals. It can then be used in its liquid form or set into bars and finely grated into the chocolate. We’re adding the beta crystals rather than needing to form them ourselves within the chocolate.

Where can you buy cocoa butter silk?

In the U.K. you can buy it from me. I sell it in 50g bars in my shop. They cost £4 per bar and will temper 5kgs of chocolate.

Click here to buy silk in my shop.

How do you make silk?

There are various methods for making silk, but the one I use is a sous vide and glass jars. It’s the least expensive method, as far as I know. Plus, the sous vide can be used for many other applications in your kitchen. The cocoa butter goes into glass jars with a tight fitting lid (so now water gets in) and is submerged in water at 33.4c for 24 hours.

When it’s finished, the butter looks similar to mayonnaise in consistency. It can be used at this stage or set into bar moulds and finely grated into the chocolate later.

If you’d rather buy the silk, I sell it in my shop for £4 per 50g bar. That will temper 5kgs of chocolate.

cocoa butter silk

How do you temper chocolate using silk?

The silk can be added as a liquid (straight from the sous vide) or set into bars. This is the mould I set my silk into. It creates big bars that are easier to hold than thin ones. And I use this grater, but you can use any fine grater. If the pieces are too big they won’t melt into the liquid chocolate.

Once you have decided which form of silk you’re using, follow the instructions below

  1. Melt your chocolate to 48c
  2. For set silk, lower the temp to 36c, either by mixing or letting it naturally come to 36c.
  3. Grate in 1% silk. So if you are tempering 500g chocolate you’ll need 5g silk. For this you’ll need an accurate scale.
  4. Mix the silk in well so it melts into the chocolate. Adding it at a lower temp will result in the butter not melting and having flecks through the chocolate.
  5. For liquid silk, add the same quantity, but at 34c as it doesn’t need to melt.
  6. You can start working with the chocolate from 33c or lower.
  7. When you are finished working with the chocolate, you can simply let it set and store it at room temp.
  8. Next time you want to use it, repeat the above process.

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how to make silk

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