To temper or not to temper

Colin Green
05/28/13 07:58:04AM
84 posts

I pan coffee beans and other centers. I have always used untempered chocolate which has been successful. It is my understanding that the vibration of panning makes type V crystals thus tempering the chocolate.

However in a recent competition my product was marked down as the judges said that the chocolate was gritty and took too long to melt on the tongue. Of course I was horrified! The suspect was the micron size of the solids and the cocoa butter content but on careful checking both are seemingly excellent.

I was VERY fortunate to be able to communicate with two of the judges and one, who is very respected (they both are) insists that I should have used tempered chocolate.

This baffled me but I took his advice and today did a batch with tempered chocolate. To put it mildly it was a mess. The chocolate became far too thick resulting in lots of "doubles" and was very hard work. And I can't really detect that it's any better.

I am looking at other possibilities but can anyone tell me whether I really should use tempered chocolate? One expert says "yes". Two others and an article I have to hand says "untempered". Common sense says that it's simply too hard to use tempered chocolate when panning.

Does anyone have advice please? DOES the panning process produce type V crystals? So can I use untempered chocolate?

My panning environment is usually around 45-50%RH and temperature 17C (62F) in the room with a bit lower in the pan (as best I can get). I use dark (70%), milk (36%) and white chocolate.

I really thought I had this nailed down but I MUST listen to what these guys say - but it just seems wrong.

Any thoughts please?

Thanks a million

Colin :-)

updated by @colin-green: 04/13/15 04:13:49PM
Clay Gordon
05/28/13 01:09:41PM
1,680 posts


This is from the class notes for a class on panning given by the National Confectioners' Association:

A wide variety of coatings can be used in a chocolate panning operation but each has
their own special requirements. Milk and dark chocolate usually are used at
temperatures of 100 to 110 F. while compound and special coatings at 110 to 115 F. The
coating should be melted and held at the desired controlled temperature for panning
with a heat controlled recirculation to the pans. Untempered chocolate is used for
panning. A flavor and texture difference is observed between panned and enrobed
chocolate products. The lower the chocolate temperature, the faster the centers will
build up in the pans but may be uneven and non-uniform from piece to piece.
Additional time is required to smooth the surface for polishing and glazing. Higher
temperature chocolate will spread more evenly but requires additional time to set. The
blending of milk and dark chocolate can easily be done in a chocolate panning operation
to give the desired flavor and color variation.

Here's the link to the class notes in their entirety.

Also - from Minifie - untempered. (The link is to Google Books and I can't copy and paste from that document so the above is a paraphrase.)

Also from The Science of Chocolate (Beckett) - untempered. (Link is to Google Books.)

Also from Industrial Chocolate Manufacture and Use (Beckett)- untempered. (Link is to Google Books.)

clay -
Brad Churchill
05/28/13 04:58:12PM
527 posts

Your experience is why I don't enter competitions where the judges aren't actual customers. Some judges have agendas of their own, while others have no clue what they are talking about.

I've only ever used untemperated chocolate, and then a finishing glaze.

05/28/13 06:32:52PM
182 posts

Untempered for me as well

Colin Green
05/28/13 07:03:43PM
84 posts

Thank you sincerely Clay, Brad and Gap. I totally appreciate your thoughts.

Clay - the articles you have provided are extremely interesting and shed light on a lot more than I had asked for. Fantastic information! Thanks!

One thing I did not share is how I apply the chocolate. I do this by hand and can do up to 70Kg (154lb) per batch in my big pan (although I usually do 35Kg). The Minifie article suggests tempered chocolate for hand panning (I assume that he means chocolate application by pouring) and untempered when spraying. Everyone else is saying "untempered" for any panning.

Any thoughts please? I really can't see how it is practical to pan with tempered chocolate - or at least using a baine marie and seeding which is my only means of tempering at this stage.

I also note that they suggest application at 34-35C which is pretty cold and getting close to the solidification temperature - yet he says that that is where tempering will occur in the pan. This is really important I think as I think I may have forced "setting" of the chocolate resulting in big crystals (ie not type V or VI) and hence grittiness. BUT panning at low temperatures (I tried 36C) results in a greasy result (in milk chocolate) which I assume to be some function of the cocoa butter impacting. Panning at around 42-48C avoids this - but I think from this information I am working too hot.

Brad - your comment about the judges is a fair one. I enter chocolate competitions and frankly panning is the poor cousin against the high-end chocolatiers. And indeed some judges can be as you say. However I have been able to score some golds and even "Best Product from an Emerging Manufacturer" for one product and in an on-line environment where Customers are seeking clues as to quality these do help.

Take a peek at to see how I use them for marketing.

But if they are a true reflection is sometimes doubtful. They DO encourage me to lift my game and I get feedback. But sometimes they are downright discouraging and costly too!

Thanks again Guys!


Clay Gordon
05/28/13 07:20:04PM
1,680 posts

Colin -

What you're experiencing is pretty common - the general guidelines only go so far. There's something about your process that's unique to your process and you need to tinker and tweak to get to the place that works for you, with your equipment, in your workshop, with your chocolate, with your ingredients.

I was doing an install of an FBM machine last week and it was taking longer than I had hoped. One of the people involved had experience installing production lines for industrial scale filling and boxing of tea bags. Even though the basic machine components were the same from installation to installation he said it took up to three weeks to get all the components installed and tweaked to the point they were working seamlessly together.

I didn't feel so bad that it took me six hours rather than four to get everything on the temperer/enrober running properly. With one exception: we weren't able to nail down the temperatures - quite. It was a custom chocolate blend and it required extra tweaking to get right.

What you do have is more information to work from and a better understanding of the process. You can use that to experiment from a place of knowledge rather than blindly. And that's a good thing.

clay -
Colin Green
05/28/13 07:33:05PM
84 posts

Thanks Clay. The information I received was FAR more than I might have hoped for. And much of the material that you gave me links to took me in other directions that have had me pondering.

The BIG one was "temper or not" and there was enough information to send me back to "untempered" and "experiment more".

Your illustration of the FBM install is graphic! Can't imagine doing one with no experience. Although the FBM people are fantastic supporting with videos and the like!

Thanks again

Colin :-)


Member Marketplace


@xocol855 • last year
Created a new forum topic:
@slaviolette • 2 years ago • comments: 0
Created a new discussion "Cost of goods produced":
"Hi Everyone, Been a long time member but I have not been in in a few years, the fact is that I had to close down my small chocolate business.. but now is..."
@chocolatelover123 • 3 years ago • comments: 0
Created a new forum topic:
New Chocolate Brand - "Palette"
Marita Lores
Marita Lores
Vercruysse Geert
Vercruysse Geert