Tempering chocolate involves putting it through a cycle of temperatures (heating, cooling, resting) to align the cocoa butter crystals within the chocolate. Once aligned, through temperature agitation, the chocolate will have the familiar snap and shine. The simplest method to tempering is known as "seeding", in which small pieces of unmelted chocolate are added to melted chocolate.
Begin by melting the chocolate using the recommended guidelines for melting chocolate. You will need the following:
Now, while stirring the melted chocolate continuously, slowly add the unmelted chocolate in several additions. Remember to carefully watch the temperature here. This fresh chocolate will help slowly lower the melted chocolate temperature while adding new crystals to the melted chocolate. At this stage of the tempering process, you are trying to reach the following temperatures:
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:
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 the water from the stove, place a kitchen towel over it, and replace the 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 (at half power), while checking the temperature and stirring, at each interval, until the desired working temperature is reached.
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 correctly tempered, the chocolate on the knife tip will begin to reach a nice hard, shiny state.
Now you have successfully tempered chocolate and can start your creation!