An insight into the delicious and tempting world of chocolate with Will Torrent

Who doesn’t love chocolate? The sight, the smell and the taste is simply exquisite and that’s one of the reasons we can’t wait for Tuesday 19th April. The fantastic Will Torrent will be hitting the speciality chocolate sweet spot with his fascinating demo.

As an award-winning chef who has worked with everyone from Heston to Jamie, international Ambassador for global chocolate brand Cacao Barry and author of 3 books including Chocolate at home and Afternoon tea at home, Will Torrent knows how to work a chocolate dessert. Here he’ll explain practical ways to meet the public’s growing appetite for speciality chocolate, share advice on display and dairy-free options and prepare some mouth-watering creations live on stage.

Ahead of his talk we are delighted that Will has given us a little info from his book which he’ll be selling and signing straight after his talk. You can catch Will on stage at 1.45pm at the Farm Shop & Deli Live.

Registration for the Farm Shop & Deli, and its co-located shows, is FREE. If you have not yet done so, please REGISTER HERE.


Melting and Tempering stages from Chocolate at Home

Chocolate at Home by Will Torrent (RPS, £19.99) Photography by Jonathan Gregson




Melting is a really important process in the making of chocolates. If melting chocolate to temper with then it is often best to melt it in the microwave on a low heat, although you must take great are when doing so as it can easily burn and spoil. Some people melt chocolate in a bain-marie by setting a heatproof bowl over a saucepan or pot of simmering water. This is fine when you’re making brownies and have butter in with the chocolate, but when melting chocolate for tempering, a bain-marie is not a good idea. If water splashes into the melting chocolate it will seize up, and it can also be affected by the steam. So, for me, always melt in the microwave. Put the chocolate in a heatproof bowl and heat in the microwave in bursts of 30 seconds. Chocolate burns very easily so make sure you clean the sides of the bowl down after each burst of heat.

Before tempering, make sure the chocolate is all melted and that you don’t have any lumps left in.













 You may have heard this term banded around by chefs and chocolatiers and not have a clue what it means.  Without going into the science of re-crystallizing the crystals in the cocoa butter, it’s basically the way the  chocolate becomes shiny and glossy, and hardens with a crisp snap, not soft or bloomed. ‘Blooming’ is when the  cocoa butter re-crystallizes on the surface of the chocolate often leaving a white residue.

 These steps are for tempering dark/bittersweet chocolate. For milk/semisweet or white, the technique is exactly  the same but the temperatures are slightly different. My preferred method of tempering is to use a marble slab,  palette knife, scraper and an electric probe. It’s important to say at this point to either use chocolate in button or  callet form (see Resources page 174), or from a bar, chopped up finely – this will help melt the chocolate easier.

 Tempering on the marble is the method I have used since I began working with chocolate and is my preferred  method. However, there are other methods that are simpler and easy to master so try the one that appeals to  you most.


The ‘marble’ technique


Melt the chocolate pieces, buttons (callets) to 45°C (110°F) for 30-second bursts in the microwave on a low heat.



Pour out two thirds of the chocolate onto the clean, marble slab – it must be completely dry as any moisture on the marble will cause the chocolate to seize up.



Begin to spread the chocolate thinly across the marble using a palette knife. This applies a shearing force to the chocolate, which along with temperature, is also critical to the tempering process.



Bring the spread chocolate back together using a scraper, keep it moving and continue to shear and cool the chocolat



Continue to do so until the chocolate starts to thicken – you will see peaks form when the chocolate is dropped from the spatula. The cocoa butter within the chocolate is beginning to crystallize and the cooled mass should be 25°C (50°F).



Working quickly, place the thickened, crystallized chocolate into the remaining chocolate in the bowl and stir thoroughly until the chocolate is smooth again, taking care to stir out any lumps.


For dark/bittersweet chocolate, it should now be 32°C (90°F) and will be perfectly tempered. Milk/semisweet chocolate should be 29°C (85°F) and white should be 30°C (86°F).

To make sure the chocolate is well tempered (and it’s always best to make sure), dip a little bit of torn baking parchment into the chocolate and place on your work surface to set a little. It should set hard within a few minutes at an ambient temperature.

The chocolate is now ready to use for moulding, dipping and decorating. Remember to work quickly and confidently with it to avoid further re-crystallization at room temperature.

The ‘seeding’ technique

(or adding more chocolate)

This is a good way to start your journey of mastering the art of tempering chocolate. Weigh out the total amount of chocolate you need for the recipe, then remove one third of it and set aside. Melt the remaining two thirds of chocolate for 30-second bursts in the microwave on a low heat to 45°C (110°F). Then stir through the third you have reserved. Because the unmelted chocolate is already tempered, by adding it to the melted chocolate 45°C (110°F), you are stirring in the crystallized cocoa butter that you need to complete the tempering process.

Continue to stir until all the chocolate has melted. Check the temperature of the chocolate. For dark/bittersweet chocolate, it should now be 32°C (90°F) and will be perfectly tempered. Milk/semisweet chocolate should be 29°C (85°F) and white should be 30°C (86°F).


Tempering in the microwave

For small batches of chocolate, tempering in the microwave is best as it’s so quick and doesn’t make as much mess. Just like how we melted the chocolate for the marble technique, warm the chocolate for 30-second bursts in the microwave on a low heat, stirring between bursts.

It is important not to heat the chocolate too quickly as you want to crystallize the cocoa butter slowly, so reduce your microwave power to its lowest heat setting.

Once the chocolate is three quarters melted, stop heating. Stir the chocolate instead until all the remaining lumps have melted. Just like the marble method be sure to check the chocolate is tempered by dipping a little bit of torn baking parchment into the chocolate and place on your work surface to set a little. It should set within a few minutes.

The chocolate is now ready to use. Remember to work quickly and confidently with it.