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What does it mean to temper chocolate?

Tempered chocolate is carefully heated and cooled for the purpose of dipping strawberries or cookies, drizzling on cakes or other baked goods, or molding into festive shapes. Once properly tempered, chocolate is shiny and smooth and will snap when broken. 

To temper chocolate, it is chopped, melted over a double boiler to avoid scorching and removed from the heat when it reaches the correct temperature (which varies according to the type of chocolate used, with dark chocolate requiring a slightly higher temperature than either milk or white). It is then cooled by adding more chocolate and stirring until it reaches its final tempered temperature. (Some chocolatiers cool the chocolate by folding it on a marble slab.)

Once cooled to the correct temperature, the chocolate may then be reheated slightly to achieve the desired consistency.

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