How to Temper Chocolate using the Microwave

Tempering chocolate

Tempering is an essential step when using couverture chocolate for making a smooth, glossy, and evenly coloured coating with a good snap for dipping or decorating bonbons. 

Couverture chocolate (the finest quality of chocolate) contains added cocoa butter (which is the most expensive ingredient in chocolate). Cocoa butter is a fat derived from the cocoa bean. As a fat, cocoa butter has a crystalline structure that is polymorphic - which means the fat crystals in the cocoa butter behave differently at different temperatures.

The purpose of tempering chocolate is to use time, temperature, and motion to get the fat crystals to behave they way you want them to. This is called pre-crystallization. During tempering, we heat the chocolate, cool it down, and stir constantly to distribute the temperature until we achieve "temper". When that happens, the fat crystals in the cocoa butter in the chocolate takes on a stable crystalline form (called Beta 5). The formation of Beta 5 crystals in the chocolate guarantees a perfect finished product with a satin gloss and a hard snap.

Confused? That's okay, join the club. Read on and let's give it a try. 


While working with couverture, room temperature should not exceed 20°C-24°C otherwise the couverture might not set up properly. If the room is warm, work the couverture at 1-2 degrees cooler.

Here are the correct tempering temperatures for Cococo couverture chocolate:
Dark Chocolate (semisweet, bittersweet) : 27°C-32°C
Milk Chocolate : 27°C-30°C
White Chocolate : 27°C-29°C

The correct tempering temperature for Ruby is between 28.5°C – 29.5°C, though for maximum workability you may need to heat Ruby as high as 31°C -32°C.

Tempering chocolate using a microwave – the ‘seeding’ method

What you need:
• heat proof bowl
• 250g to 500g couverture chocolate, chopped into small pieces
• spatula
• thermometer (optional)

Chop the couverture into small pieces and place in a microwave-safe bowl. A good quantity for this method is 500g; any amount less than 250g may scorch or burn in the microwave. Put the couverture in the microwave and set power at high for 1 minute (30 seconds if using less than 500 g), paying careful attention that it doesn’t scorch or burn. Take the chocolate out of the microwave and stir well to distribute the temperature throughout. The couverture may just have started to melt or might be just warming up (depending on the power of your microwave or the temperature of your chocolate).

Repeat until the chocolate couverture is half-melted, then reduce microwave time to 10 second intervals on high, stirring thoroughly at each interval. Do this until only small pieces of the chocolate are still visible in the bowl, then remove from microwave and stir well until all of the pieces have been melted and a smooth consistency is obtained. It is better to remove the chocolate from the microwave early and stir very well than risk burning it by keeping it in the microwave too long. If you have a reliable thermometer, check the temperature of the melted couverture to see if it is in the desired temperature range for the type of chocolate you are using.

To check if the chocolate is correctly tempered, dip the tip of a teaspoon into the couverture or spread a thin layer of chocolate on a parchment paper. Let harden. If the Ruby hardens quickly and is shiny (in 2-3 minutes) then it is tempered and ready to be used in dipping or enrobing.

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