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Thanks to a well meaning neighbor, I am now the less than proud owner of 8lbs of Nestle Chocolate Chips. Not only do I not really love making cookies, Nestle Chocolate Chips came in dead last in a recent Cook's Illustrated taste test of chocolate chips.

I've never tempered chocolate, but that's something I'd like to get into.

I could swear that I read somewhere that real but "bad" chocolate can be improved and tempered after adding 10% cocoa butter. Is that true? For the life of me I can't find the source for that info.

If it is true, would more cocoa butter be better? I know that couverture chocolate can contain up to 40% cocoa butter.

I understand that no amount of cocoa butter will turn Nestle chips into Callebaut, but I would like to practice the process of tempering with the cheap chocolate that I already own before I spend real money on fine chocolate. I can get a good price on organic, food grade cocoa butter.

Ingredient list of Nestle Semi-Sweet Morsels: Semi-sweet chocolate (sugar, chocolate, cocoa butter, milkfat, soy lecithin, natural flavors)

The nutritional information says that the total fat is 4 grams in a 14 gram serving. That makes the chips 29% fat. If I'm not missing anything, that means that they are at least 15% cocoa butter, probably more. Please correct me if I'm wrong.

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2 Answers 2

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Keep in mind that if you mess up tempering of 'fine chocolate', you can always heat it back up and do it again.

All you are doing is trying to make one of the three types of chocolate crystals the dominant one, and form the crystal lattice.

This article chocolate alchemy describes it. In practice, having a fast digital hand thermometer is really helpful since you can actually see the changes at the critical temperatures.

As far as the Nestle stuff goes, try practicing with them as they are. I'm afraid I can't advise to throw good cocoa butter into it. You may be able to get chocolate ice cream mileage from your 8lbs. Otherwise, just go ahead temper your favourite chocolate. Worst case, a badly tempered good chocolate still tastes great.

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What we know from the Federal Standards of Identity for Cacao Products is that there is at least 35% cocoa mass (which can include cocoa butter), and no more than 12% milk fat (by weight) in a product labeled semi-sweet chocolate, which includes the Nestle morsels. We also know from the Nestle label listing sugar first that it is the most plentiful ingredient by weight.

It is a reasonable guess, although not certain, that the milkfat percentage is in fact 12%, as it is more economical than cocoa butter, and that is the maximum permitted. Similarly, the cocoa mass is probably no more than the required amount.

If one makes that inference, the formula of the chocolate is 50 sugar, 35 cocoa mass, 12 milk fat with 3% left over for emulsifiers, flavorings, and uncertainty.

(Note that even without making any assumptions on the cocoa mass, with 12% milkfat, there is only 88% left to be divided between cocoa mass and sugar, and there is more sugar, so it cannot be less than 44%.)


My guess is that the percentage of milkfat is low enough that the chips will temper. They will probably temper now.

The question is would you want to:

  • By adding even more cocoa butter to a chip which has little chocolate flavor to start with (being mostly sugar and fat), you are going to further dilute the flavor.

  • They may or may not be conched to the standards that chocolate intended for eating out of hand or covertuer is, and are not all that high quality a chocolate to begin with, so you are not going to get outstanding results

  • Because of the residual milk fat, you will never be certain your tempering has been done correctly

I would suggest this is not worth doing.


However,you can use them as is in any recipe that requires chips, or melting down semi-sweet chocolate, including puddings, cakes, ganaches and so on.

That would be a better use than trying to turn them into a coverteure which they are not and will never be.

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I'm not trying to turn them into fine chocolate. I'd like to try my hand at tempering before I spend money on fine chocolate for tempering. You say that I can probably temper the chips without adding the cocoa butter. If that's the case, will the chocolate behave similarly to a quality level of chocolate I'm likely to buy for an application that requires tempering? Keep in mind that I have 8 pounds of "chocolate" that I really don't want. If I can use it as practice material, that's putting it to good use. –  Jolenealaska Nov 24 '13 at 13:22
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Even if you did practice, how would you know if your results were tainted by the milkfat? –  SAJ14SAJ Nov 24 '13 at 13:27
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I don't know, I didn't know that was an issue. Whaddya mean? –  Jolenealaska Nov 24 '13 at 13:32

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