Learning how to temper eggs is a culinary skill everyone needs to know. Tempering is a method of combining two ingredients that are at two different temperatures, one hot and one room temperature or cold. It’s used when one ingredient (usually eggs, but sometimes chocolate) cooks at a low temperature or curdles easily. Imagine pouring hot milk or cream into a bowl of egg yolks. The extreme heat would cook the eggs, leaving scrambled eggs in your pastry cream, sauce or creme brulee and nobody wants scrambled egg-flavored dessert.
How to Temper Eggs
First, make sure you have all the supplies you’ll need – a bowl, a whisk, your ingredients – before you start because things will move fast. To temper eggs, whisk a little of the hot ingredient into the eggs. It’s important to whisk constantly and vigorously as the hot ingredient is added. By keeping the eggs moving constantly, you raise the temperature of the eggs gradually, keeping them from cooking. Raising the temperature of the eggs protects them so that when the remaining hot liquid is added to the eggs or the eggs are added to the pot or pan with the hot ingredient, they won’t cook or curdle.