I think we can all agree that there is no such thing as bad chocolate. Both tempered and untempered chocolate will taste good, so which to use will depend on your application and how you want your finished product to look.
CHARACTERISTICS OF TEMPERED CHOCOLATE VS UNTEMPERED CHOCOLATE:
|Shiny Glossy Finish
||Dull Blotchy Finish
||Doesn't Fully Harden
|Snap When You Bite Into It
||Soft Mouth Feel
|Melts At Higher Temp
||More Likely To Melt In Hands
|Longer Shelf Life
||Shorter Shelf Life
|Easy To Remove From Molds
||Difficult To Remove From Molds
If you want your chocolates to look professional and to be shelf stable you will want to use tempered chocolate. If the items are being dipped upon demand to be eaten immediately, the chocolate is being used as a decoration or part of a recipe, or the chocolate will be used on a frozen product untempered chocolate is an option.
WHEN TO USE TEMPERED CHOCOLATE?
Tempered chocolate is generally preferred for anything that will be "enrobed" (fully covered) or dipped into chocolate. Tempered chocolate must be used for chocolate bars or any type of molded or filled chocolates (untempered chocolate is very difficult to remove from molds!).
Examples using tempered chocolate (click for recipes):
Chocolate Covered Oreos
Chocolate Salted Caramels
Chocolate Peanut Butter Cups
Chocolate Covered Strawberries
WHEN TO USE UNTEMPERED CHOCOLATE?
Untempered chocolate is generally used for things that will be consumed quickly, if the chocolate is being used for decoration or garnish, when the final product will be coated in cocoa powder (coffee beans, nut, etc) or for covering ice cream. Baked goods or recipes that add chocolate to other ingredients such as milk, cream, sugar or flour are usually made with untempered chocolate.
Examples using untempered chocolate (click for recipes):
Half Dipped Cookies
Chocolate Covered Coffee Beans
Ice Cream Chocolate Bon Bons
Tempered versus Untempered Chocolate Resources (click each to read more):
Do I Need To Temper My Chocolate?
How & Why To Temper Chocolate
NOT ALL "CHOCOLATE" CAN BE TEMPERED!
It is important to note that only "real" chocolate (commonly called couverture chocolate) can be tempered. There some "chocolates" that cannot be tempered, and they must be melted. For example:
Compound chocolate (also called coating, confectioner's chocolate or candy melts) cannot be tempered. Compound coatings are cost effective and easy to use, but the trade-off is that they do not taste as good as "real" chocolate (and they may contain artificial ingredients not found in chocolate!). Real chocolate contains cocoa butter, which must be tempered. Compound chocolate and coatings contain less expensive oils, like vegetable oil and palm oil, which cannot be tempered. Looks at your ingredients, if it contains any oil besides cocoa butter, it is NOT real chocolate!
What is the difference: Compound vs Couverture Chocolate
Baking chocolate and chocolate chips made for cookies, are not meant to be tempered. These are specifically formulated to melt at very high temperature (so that they do not completely melt away in your oven!) and they do not contain enough cocoa butter to temper.
Here is a great resource to determine if your chocolate should be melted or tempered.
To Melt or Temper?
Want to speed up your workflow? Find out if you need a chocolate tempering machine or a chocolate melter:
Chocolate Melter vs Chocolate Temperer