Compound chocolate is a chocolate replacement made from a combination of cocoa,vegetable fats, coconut or palm kernel oils and sweeteners. Compound chocolate is designed to simulate enrobed chocolate on a product. Compound does not require tempering and is generally used as a low cost easy to process alternative to chocolate.

Cocoa butter is the fat in cacao that gives chocolate its stable properties. To be considered “real” chocolate, a chocolate product can contain only cocoa butter, and not any other fat. Cocoa butter is the reason that chocolate must be tempered. Cocoa butter is comprised of four fatty acids, each of which solidifies at a different temperature. When chocolate is melted, the crystals of fatty acids separate.

The objective of chocolate tempering is to stabilize the fat crystals and bind them tightly together to avoid blooming, a dull appearance, or a crumbly texture.

Proper tempering gives chocolate a smooth and glossy finish, has a crisp snap, and won’t melt as easily as un-tempered chocolate to the touch.

The “seed” is tempered chocolate (callets or flakes) that should be set aside and placed behind the baffle at the beginning of the temper cycle (your ChocoVision machine will beep three times to indicate that your chocolate has hit its melt-point and is ready for tempering/seeding). These pieces of seed chocolate initiate the crystallisation process that results in a proper temper.Tempered chocolate melts at a much higher temperature than un-tempered chocolate, allowing the finished product to be handled.

The ideal temperature for cooling chocolate used for moulding work is between 10 and 12°C and there should be plenty of cool air circulating. If you are using a fridge to cool your chocolate, the shelves need to be wire as opposed to glass.

Chocolate bloom is visible by whitish-grey streaks or spots on the surface of the chocolate, typically caused by two things; moisture (sugar bloom) or warmth (fat bloom). Sugar bloom is caused by moisture which makes the sugar in chocolate dissolve. Once the moisture evaporates, sugar crystals remain on the surface. Your chocolate will become discoloured. Although sugar bloom is most often the result of humid storage, it can also occur when stored in a cool climate and moved too quickly to a warmer one. Fat bloom is similar to sugar bloom, except that it is fat or cocoa butter separating from the chocolate and depositing itself outside of it – this will result in a white-greyish film covering the product. The most common cause of fat bloom is when chocolate hasn’t been properly tempered. Fat bloom can also happen if you are using a fat-based filling (marzipan/praline etc.) and the fat migrates into your chocolate. Fat bloom can be accelerated by improper product storage. *Bloomed chocolate is edible. It just does not appear as appetizing.

If your work area is overly hot or cold, there is a good chance that it will have a negative effect on your finished chocolate products. As stated, relative room humidity can cause or make your chocolate susceptible to sugar bloom. A room that is too hot, cold or humid will interfere with your chocolate setting-up properly. Ideal working conditions are: 66-70° Fahrenheit OR 18.5-21° Celsius Humidity below 50%

Your chocolate can come out of temper if not stored properly. Ideally, chocolate should be wrapped thoroughly to avoid moisture and stored at a constant temperature of 12° to 15.5°C with a relative humidity at or below 50% (neither temperature nor humidity varying much). Chocolate has a propensity to absorb odour very quickly, so do not store your chocolate within the vicinity of any items that exude a pungent odour. Stored under perfect conditions, unsweetened and dark chocolate will last for up to 18 months, milk for 12 months and white chocolate for 6 months.