Marble Slab Tempering
You can follow the instructions without reading What is Tempering? and get the right results. I recommend reading it before this if you hope to understand the whole talk of crystals.
Hand tempering is probably the most satisfying tempering method to watch and probably to make too. Once you are comfortable with the process and you understand how the chocolate behaves it is a relatively easy way to temper.
The initial idea: spreading the chocolate on a marble slab to cool it down to the desired temperature. Why marble? Because the stone gets cold enough, you could not really do this on a stainless steel counter as it would not get cold enough.
A marble counter or slab
2 stainless steel spatulas (traditionally, we would use a chocolate spatula/ scraper but a palette knife would work too)
An infrared thermometer
Warm all the chocolate to 45°C to melt all the crystal - I would use a double-boiler for this as it is the fastest and safest way to heat up the chocolate without burning it.
Pour ⅔ of the mass on the cold marble table, leave the ⅓ of the chocolate in the double boiler but turn off the fire, you don’t want it any higher than 45°C or it will burn. Don't worry about the chocolate left cooling too much, it won’t be a problem.
The idea is to spread the chocolate around the marble slab to cool it down and bring it back together to help distribute the temperature to the rest of the chocolateThe movement is: spreading the chocolate in long smooth movements and bringing it back to the centre. Ideally some different parts of the chocolate mass will be spread every time, helping to cool the total mass quicker.
Using the thermometer, check the temperature as you bring the chocolate back to the centre - we are aiming to reach 28°C
You can take this mass from the marble slab back into the double-boiler and without turning on the fire, mix well with the ⅓ of melting chocolate left to reach a consistent, unified chocolate mass without any lumps. The final temperature of the chocolate should be 31°C.
Once your chocolate is consistently at 28°C (we always bring the mass together back in the middle, remember?)
Move the chocolate continuously on the marble slab
The start of the process will be a very liquid chocolate but it will soon become noticeably thicker. This is the sign we are looking for, the chocolate becoming slightly thicker. The benefit of doing the hand tempering or “tabling” method is that you can start to feel when the chocolate is coming into temper which is a pretty fun process to watch.
Once at temperature, don’t continue moving the chocolate on the slab, it will become a hard block and you won’t be able to do anything of it
Keep checking the temperature with your thermometer. Once you have done this a few times, you can do it by “feel” and might not even need to use your thermometer.
The key temperature here is the last one. If the chocolate left in the double-boiler is too hot or too much, it might bring the final temperature over 31°C, which would take the chocolate back out of temper and you might have to start all over again.
The chocolate is now tempered and ready to mould or used in any creative way you can think of! Just remember, once tempered, you need to work fast because the chocolate will quickly get to a solid state.