Tempering chocolate: seeding method

The seeding method of tempering chocolate
Adding seed to melted dark chocolate
Adding seed to melted chocolate

Last week when I posted about my first attempt using the tabliering method for tempering chocolate, I promised to review the seeding method in a later post. So here it is.

This will be a much shorter post than my last post on tempering because there is a lot of overlap between the tabliering and seeding methods of tempering.  In both methods, the melting process is the same, as is the temperature to which the chocolate must be raised to dissolve the fatty acid crystals (this happens for dark chocolate at roughly 116-118 degrees Fahrenheit).

Here are the most important differences between tempering by seeding versus tabliering:

  1. The seeding method only works if you have some tempered chocolate on hand to use as your seed chocolate. So if all you have is a block of untempered chocolate, you’ll have to use the tabliering method.
  2. The seeding method is much, much less messy than the tabliering method. No brown fingernails, no chocolate residue all over your counter. However, the tradeoff is that seeding takes 10-15 minutes longer than tabliering.
  3. With seeding, once the seed chocolate is thoroughly incorporated and the chocolate has cooled to 88-90 degrees Fahrenheit, you’re done, the chocolate is tempered. You don’t have to cool it to 82 degrees and then reheat it to 90 degrees like with tabliering.

    Melting dark chocolate couverture
    Melting dark chocolate couverture

Here’s how to get started. First, melt your chocolate in the microwave. Reserve some unmelted seed chocolate — roughly 10-20% of the total chocolate you’re working with. Just eyeball it, you don’t need to be precise.

For step-by-step instructions on tempering using the seeding method, check out this excerpt from The Professional Pastry Chef by Bo Friberg (provides directions for both seeding and tabliering methods).

Basically you want to bring the melted chocolate up to 116 degrees Fahrenheit, add your seed chocolate, a little at a time, stirring constantly, waiting until the seed has fully melted before adding more. Keep this up until the chocolate cools to 88-90 degrees. It may take 10-15 minutes to cool. When the temperature hits 90 degrees, it’s tempered.

Unmelted seed in my tempered chocolate
Unmelted seed in my tempered chocolate

Dip the back of a spoon in the chocolate to do a quick test — the chocolate should firm up in the fridge in a couple of minutes.  It should look shiny, you should be able to touch it without it instantly melting, and when you try to break it you should hear a sharp snap.

If you see any extra unmelted seed chocolate in your bowl at this point, you’re supposed to remove it to avoid overcrystalization (I’ll write more on overcrystalization in a future post).

When this happened to me, I couldn’t find a good way to remove the seed, it was kind of like trying to remove egg shells from raw egg whites with your fingers. I tried a slotted spoon, but the holes were too small. Finally I gave up and left it in.

Testing the temper of dark chocolate using the seeding method
See how tests 3 and 4 have a lovely shine?

As you can see, compared to the tabliering method, it took me an extra 11 minutes to get from melted chocolate (test 1) to tempered chocolate (test 3).  However, I had no trouble keeping it tempered for 20 minutes (test 4), partially because I was obsessive about rewarming it every few minutes.

Overall I MUCH prefer seeding to tabliering.  The 11 extra minutes it took to cool down the chocolate are SO worth it for the extra control and (comparatively) minimal clean-up.