Simply stated, with this method you only melt the chocolate to its working temperature and never allow it to come out of temper. While this is the simplest way to work with real chocolate, its tricky and you must monitor the process very closely!
Begin by melting chocolate coins (or small pieces cut from a larger bar of chocolate) in a glass bowl, in the microwave at power at 30 seconds intervals stirring between each interval. Using your thermometer, determine the temperature of the chocolate as it begins to melt. DO NOT allow the chocolate to exceed its working temperature. Dark chocolate : 89F90F (32C); Milk chocolate : 86F-87F (30C); White chocolate : 82F-83F (28C). If the temperatures climb above these specific ranges, your chocolate will come out of temper and you will have no other option but to fully temper your chocolate from scratch! (See below)
ALTERNATE DIRECT METHOD
In lieu of using the microwave, you might prefer to use a double boiler (or bain-marie) to accomplish the same end result. This is probably the oldest method of melting chocolate. However there is one drawback. Vapor. Chocolate and water do not mix, AT ALL! Great care must be taken when boiling the water during this process, to not contaminate the chocolate with steam.
Here you set the unmelted chocolate in a glass bowl to snugly fit on top of it. Now setting your bowl filled with unmelted chocolate away from the stove, fill the pot with water (half way) and bring to rolling boil. Remove it from the stove and place a small kitchen towel on top of it to prevent the vapor from escaping. Place the bowl of chocolate on top of it and let it stand for a couple of minutes allowing the chocolate to melt. Once this process begins, stir the chocolate and take a temperature reading. Keep stirring until all the chocolate has melted. Again as above, do not allow the chocolate to go beyond its working temperature or, you will have to fully temper it.
FULL TEMPERING OF CHOCOLATE
First take your chocolate coins (or small pieces of chocolate cut from a bar) and melt two thirds of the total amount using either a double boiler (as in above) or microwave at power at 30 seconds intervals, stirring each time, until the chocolate has reached its melting temperature.
DARK CHOCOLATE: 120F/49C
MILK CHOCOLATE: 116F/47C
WHITE CHOCOLATE: 114F/45C
Now, while stirring continuously (preferably with a wooden spoon), slowly add the remaining third of the fresh unmelted chocolate you earlier set aside to the melted batch. Remember to carefully watch the temperature here. This fresh chocolate will help slowly lower the chocolates temperature while adding new crystals to the melted chocolate. At this stage of the tempering process you are trying to reach the following temperatures:
DARK CHOCOLATE: 84F/29C
MILK CHOCOLATE: 81F/27C
WHITE CHOCOLATE: 79F/26C
Now you are ready for the final step in the process. The temperature of the chocolate now needs to be raised to its working temperature:
DARK CHOCOLATE: 89F-90F/32C
MILK CHOCOLATE: 86F-87F/30C
WHITE CHOCOLATE: 82F-83F/28C
To raise the temperature of the chocolate, simply re-boil the water on the stove (while keeping your chocolate away from it, of course). Once at a full boil, remove water from the stove, place kitchen towel over it, and replace bowl with cooled down chocolate over it while carefully watching the temperature so it does NOT exceed working temperature. To be safe, it is best to remove the bowl from the pot when the temperature is a degree or two away from the desired working temperature of the chocolate. This allows it to come up on its own, using residual heat from the bottom of the bowl.
If you used the microwave method, slowly reheat, at 10 second intervals (1/2 power), while checking the temperature and stirring, at each interval, until the desired working temperature is reached.
TEST THE BATCH! To be sure your chocolate is now in temper, dip the tip of a clean, dry knife in the bowl and allow it to stand for a couple of minutes. If it is ok, the chocolate on the knife tip will begin to reach a nice hard, shiny state.
Now start your project, you have successfully tempered chocolate.