Tips For Working With Real Chocolate

Working with real chocolate requires precision and attention to detail to achieve the perfect texture, shine, and taste. Here are some essential tips for melting, tempering, flavoring, dipping, and storing chocolate to ensure your creations are a success.

Melting Chocolate

Microwave Method
  1. Chop Chocolate: Break chocolate into small, uniform pieces, about ½ inch in size.
  2. Heat in Intervals: Place the chopped chocolate in a microwave-safe bowl. Heat in short intervals of 10 to 30 seconds, stirring after each interval until fully melted.
Double Boiler Method
  1. Set Up Double Boiler: Place the chopped chocolate in a clean, dry, heatproof bowl.
  2. Simmer Water: Set the bowl over a pan of simmering water (approximately 120°F). Ensure the bowl does not touch the water, and avoid letting steam escape over the sides.
  3. Melt and Stir: Melt the chocolate, stirring gently to avoid incorporating too much air. Remove from heat when most of the chocolate is melted, then continue stirring until smooth.
Tips For Success
  • Measure Accurately: Use a kitchen scale to measure the amount of chocolate needed for your recipe.
  • Low Heat: Melt chocolate over low heat, stirring frequently with a wooden spoon or rubber spatula.
  • Avoid Moisture: Keep chocolate dry to prevent seizing.
  • Monitor Temperature: Use an accurate thermometer. Dark chocolate should not exceed 120°F, while milk and white chocolate should not go above 110°F.


Tempering is the method used for heating and cooling chocolate to give proper shine and snap. This occurs when the cocoa butter crystals are allowed to form to the right number and size. Properly tempered chocolate will have a glossy surface, even color, smooth texture, good snap, and no bloom. Improperly tempered chocolate will have a dull finish, uneven texture, fat bloom and poor snap.

Professional chocolate crafters often use a tempering machine, but the process can be done by hand. All you need is an accurate thermometer.

To temper chocolate by hand using the seeding method:
  1. Fully melt chocolate using either method above and following all instructions. Add a good-sized piece of unmelted (and tempered) chocolate to the melted batch. This solid piece is the “seed” and will allow the melted chocolate to cool properly and form the proper crystals.
  2. Stir the chocolate gently until the temperature lowers to 85° for dark chocolate or 83° for milk or white chocolate.
  3. Test the chocolate to see how it sets. Dip a knife into the melted chocolate and lay the knife on the counter, leaving it undisturbed for about 5 minutes. If the chocolate is streak-free, and no longer looks wet, it has been successfully tempered. Skip to step 5.
  4. If the chocolate contains streaks or does not set, it will need to be seeded again. Add a another piece of unmelted chocolate to the bowl and stir for 3 to 4 minutes. Test again following the instructions from step 3. Remove any of the seed chocolate that has not completely melted and keep warm as outlined in the next step.
  5. The tempered chocolate can now be gently warmed (do not heat above 90° for dark and 86° for milk and white). 
  6. Use the tempered chocolate as you wish while keeping it warmed to the correct temperature. For dark chocolate, the temperature should be between 88° - 90°F. Milk and White should be kept at 86° - 88°F. Chocolate can be kept warm by periodically heating in the microwave, by gently heating over a double boiler, or by using a heating pad under the bowl.

Flavoring Chocolate

Many of LorAnn’s Super Strength Flavors can be used to flavor chocolate or compound coating. The information details section of each flavor will indicate if it is appropriate for use directly in chocolate (all flavors can be used to flavor ganache, or candy centers). To view product details, simply click on the picture of an individual item.

  • We recommend adding ¼ to ½ teaspoon of Super Strength Flavoring per pound of chocolate. Flavoring can be stirred into the melted chocolate once it has been tempered.
  • It’s best to add the minimum amount of flavoring and add more to taste.

Steps for Dipping

  1. A small, deep bowl or saucepan will work better for dipping than a shallow vessel. It may be helpful to have the bowl tipped slightly toward you. To do this, place a folded towel underneath one half of the bowl.
  2. Line a flat baking pan with dipping paper, parchment paper or waxed paper.
  3. If an item is to be submerged in chocolate, place on top of melted chocolate and use a dipping fork to push the item down to submerge it, then with a quick fishhook-shaped motion, invert the item and lift it out.
  4. Touch the bottom of the item several times onto the surface of the melted chocolate– this will allow some of the candy to be absorbed back into the bowl.
  5. Lay dipped items onto the pre-lined pan.

Storing Chocolate

Proper storage extends the shelf life and maintains the quality of chocolate:

  • Dark Chocolate: Shelf life of about 1 year.
  • Milk and White Chocolate: Shelf life of about 6 months.
  • Airtight Containers: Store in a cool, dark place away from strong odors and moisture.

Understanding Bloom

When chocolate forms a white cast on the surface, it is known as bloom. Bloom comes in two forms: fat bloom and sugar bloom. Bloom is not harmful, but does affect the appearance of the chocolate. Both types of bloom will disappear when the chocolate is melted and tempered properly.

  • Fat bloom is a result of cocoa butter that has risen to the surface. This can happen when chocolate is not tempered properly or is stored at too high a temperature.
  • Sugar bloom happens when tiny crystals of sugar rise to the surface and is caused when chocolate is exposed to too much moisture or humidity.