Easy homemade dark chocolate bars (tempered chocolate)
Tempered dark chocolate slab
Create your own chocolate bar with this easy dark chocolate bark recipe. Wrap it up in cellophane for an impressive homemade gift idea, or break up into chunks to enjoy with a coffee after dinner. Customise with any topping you fancy, from crushed nuts to dried fruit or a decorative white chocolate swirl.
PREP TIME: 20 MINS
CHILL TIME: 1-2 HOURS
TOTAL TIME: 2.5 HOURS
Creating your own chocolate bar is both fun to make and to eat. And it’s as easy as picking a chocolate base, melting it down and topping with anything that takes your fancy.
In this guide I’ll be covering a quick and easy way to temper the chocolate – this means you end up with a bar that snaps easily into chunks.
Pre-bought chocolate is already tempered for you, so already has that solid, snap-able quality to it. However, this property is lost as soon as you melt the bar down to reshape it, so you’ll need to repeat the process when making your own chocolate bars at home.
Chocolate mould – you can buy a cheap silicone mould from Amazon in the shape and design that you prefer. Alternately, you can use an empty ice cube tray or get creative and make your own mould – there are plenty of different tutorials around for this!
Thermometer – tempering the chocolate involves heating and cooling it to a very precise temperature, so you’ll need a thermometer for this. I used a milk thermometer that we normally use when making coffee, but a proper sugar thermometer would work well too
Bain-marie (optional) – one way of melting the chocolate involves breaking it up in a small glass bowl, suspended over a shallow saucepan of boiling water. You can also use a microwave, although it will be harder to keep a precise track of the temperature of the melted chocolate
Method: How to temper the chocolate
First off, it’s worth noting that you can skip the tempering process if you’re not too fussy about the final chocolate product. Simply melting and solidifying it will still result in a delicious chocolate bar, but it will be slightly softer and grainier if left un-tempered.
Moving on to the tempering process, then. Essentially, you will need to:
- Melt the choc to 46°C / 114.8°F
- Cool it down to 26°C / 78.8°F
- Heat it back up to 32°C / 89.6°F, (dark chocolate) or 29°C / 84.2°F (if using white choc)
Traditionally, chocolate is tempered by professional chocolatiers by spreading the melted chocolate on a cool marble surface with a fancy spatula until the right temperature has been reached, before scraping it back into a bowl to reheat.
This can get a bit messy depending on the space you have available, so my method involves keeping the chocolate in the same bowl for the whole process. Keep reading…
- Break ¾ of the dark chocolate bar into chunks and place into the glass bowl over the bain-marie, on a medium-low heat
- Wait until the chocolate is fully melted while stirring occasionally. Then continue to heat until the chocolate has reached exactly 46°C or 114.8°F
- Remove the bowl from pan immediately and place into a prepared sink of cool water. Add the remaining ¼ of unmelted chocolate into the bowl and stir until the thermometer is reading 26°C or 78.8°F
- As soon as this temperature has been reached, place the bowl back into the bain-marie on a medium heat, and wait until the chocolate has heated up to 32°C or 89.6°F, then immediately remove from the saucepan. Do not let the chocolate get hotter than this – if it does, you will need to repeat the previous steps by cooling back down and reheating again
- Pour the tempered chocolate into the silicone mould and spread it out to each corner using the end of a flat knife or spoon. Gently tap the mould to evenly disperse the chocolate. Then decorate with nuts, fruit and melted white chocolate drizzle
Storage & wrapping ideas
Your chocolate bars should keep for several months in an airtight container. I find that some brands of chocolate have a tendency to go softer at room temperature than they do before you have melted them – so you may want to keep your bars in the fridge until ready to eat.
If you’re giving them as a gift, the easiest way to wrap them is by purchasing a roll of cellophane and wrapping each bar individually, as you would do with wrapping paper for any other present. Seal the flaps at each end with a small piece of sellotape, then package multiple bars together in brown paper wrapping for a timeless look.
Homemade tempered dark chocolate bars with fruit & nut topping
- Bain-marie (optional)
- Silicone mould or ice cube tray
- Heat proof bowl
- 1 large bar of high quality dark chocolate for the base (can opt for milk or white base if preferred)
- 1 small bar dairy-free white chocolate, for topping (optional)
- 2 tbsp pistaccios or other nuts of choice (optional)
- 2 tbsp dried fruit of choice, e.g. raisins/cherries (optional)
- Set up the bain-marie by adding about 1-2cm of boiling water to a small saucepan, and placing a small glass bowl on top. The bottom of the glass bowl should not touch the water underneath.
- Partially fill a sink or empty washing up bowl with cold water, ready to place the bowl of melted chocolate in to cool down
- Break ¾ of the dark chocolate bar into chunks and place into the glass bowl over the bain-marie. On a medium-low heat, wait until the chocolate is fully melted while stirring occasionally. Then continue to heat until the chocolate has reached exactly 46°C or 114.8°F. Remove the bowl from pan immediately and place into the prepared sink of cool water. Add the remaining ¼ of unmelted chocolate into the bowl and stir until the thermometer is reading 26°C or 78.8°F.
- As soon as this temperature has been reached, place the bowl back into the bain-marie on a medium heat, and wait until the chocolate has heated up to 32°C or 89.6°F, then immediately remove from the saucepan. Do not let the chocolate get hotter than this - if it does, you will need to repeat the previous steps by cooling back down and reheating again.
- Pour the tempered chocolate into the silicone mould and spread it out to each corner using the end of a flat knife or spoon. Gently tap the mould to evenly disperse the chocolate.
- Quickly prepare the white chocolate, if using as a topping. I don't bother tempering it as you won't be using very much of it. Simply break up into chunks and microwave in a heat proof plastic or ceramic bowl until melted, then use a small spoon to drizzle it over the dark chocolate base. If you like, you can get fancy using a cocktail stick to drag vertical lines through the chocolate to create extra nice patterns.
- Finish by sprinkling over your other toppings. You can opt for chopped nuts, dried fruit, or other fun toppings like toffee chunks.
- Leave the chocolate bars at room temperature to cool for about 45 minutes, then transfer to the fridge and continue to cool until fully set (approx 2 hours in total). Once ready, enjoy immediately or wrap up each individual bar in cellophane as a gift.