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Temper Chocolate with a Microwave and Box Grater

Forget the fussy heat-cool-reheat method. These unlikely tools and novel method are a fast, easy way to create shiny, snappy chocolate for drizzling, dipping, or coating.
By Published Jan. 12, 2022

It would be so handy if chocolate were like wax: You could melt it and cool it, and it would always have that same texture and appearance when it resolidified. Sadly, it’s not that forgiving. Good chocolate right out of the package has a nice snap and sheen. But when you melt it to use as a coating or for drizzling and leave it to resolidify, it can take on a dull, dusty appearance and soft texture. This is because the crystal structure of the cocoa butter in the chocolate has changed. Cocoa butter can solidify into any of six different crystal formations, but only one—beta crystals—sets up firm and shiny. 

Chocolate with those qualities is known as tempered, and the traditional way to achieve it involves fussily heating, cooling, and reheating the chocolate to trigger beta crystal formation. But there’s a much easier way that I came up with while developing recipes for Florentine Lace Cookies and Millionaire’s Shortbread: Melt a portion of the chocolate very gently in the microwave (faster, less fussy, and more efficient than a double-boiler setup) being careful not to let it get too warm, and then stir in the remaining chocolate, which has been finely grated. These small flakes disperse throughout the melted chocolate, and their temperature remains so low that most of their beta crystals remain intact, triggering the formation of new crystals as the chocolate cools so it sets up perfectly shiny and snappy.

IT'S A SNAP:

Chocolate that’s been tempered is glossy and breaks cleanly if snapped.

LOST ITS TEMPER:

Chocolate that is melted and cooled without tempering will look dull and bend instead of breaking.

Method:

  1. Place three-quarters of chocolate, chopped fine, in bowl. Microwave at 50 percent power, stirring every 15 seconds, until melted but not much warmer than body temperature, about 93 degrees. 
  2. Add remaining one-quarter of chocolate, grated on the small holes of a box grater (a microplane or a rotary grater works well, too), and stir until smooth, microwaving for no more than 5 seconds at a time, if necessary, to finish melting.

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JC
JOHN C.
16 days

Absolutely the best chicken ever, even the breast meat was moist! It's the only way I'll cook a whole chicken again. Simple, easy, quick, no mess - perfect every time. I've used both stainless steel and cast iron pans. great and easy technique for “roasted” chicken. I will say there were no pan juices, just fat in the skillet. Will add to the recipe rotation. Good for family and company dinners too. I've done this using a rimmed sheet pan instead of a skillet and put veggies and potatoes around the chicken for a one-pan meal. Broccoli gets nicely browned and yummy!

Absolutely the best chicken ever, even the breast meat was moist! It's the only way I'll cook a whole chicken again. Simple, easy, quick, no mess - perfect every time. I've used both stainless steel and cast iron pans. great and easy technique for “roasted” chicken. I will say there were no pan juices, just fat in the skillet. Will add to the recipe rotation. Good for family and company dinners too.

MD
MILES D.
JOHN C.
9 days

Amazed this recipe works out as well as it does. Would not have thought that the amount of time under the broiler would have produced a very juicy and favorable chicken with a very crispy crust. Used my 12" Lodge Cast Iron skillet (which can withstand 1000 degree temps to respond to those who wondered if it would work) and it turned out great. A "make again" as my family rates things. This is a great recipe, and I will definitely make it again. My butcher gladly butterflied the chicken for me, therefore I found it to be a fast and easy prep. I used my cast iron skillet- marvellous!

CM
CHARLES M.
11 days

John, wasn't it just amazing chicken? So much better than your typical oven baked chicken and on par if not better than gas or even charcoal grilled. It gets that smokey charcoal tasted and overnight koshering definitely helps, something I do when time permits. First-time I've pierced a whole chicken minus the times I make jerk chicken on the grill. Yup, the cast iron was not an issue.