compiled by Dib Mossavi
Chocolate is susceptible to temperature, external odors and flavorings, air and light, moisture and time. The fat and sugar it contains will absorb surrounding odors. Chocolate should be stored in a dry, odor-free place with good air circulation. Good storage practices help avoid decay, undesired features like fatbloom and sugarbloom, and help extend shelf life.
Chocolate is susceptible to moisture and absorbs external odors. Store chocolate in a cool, dry place away from light and air. Chocolate will oxidize more quickly and deteriorate in taste when exposed to light and air. Therefore, it is very important to protect the chocolate by storing it in closed packaging. Dark and milk chocolate naturally contain anti-oxidents (the agents that slow down the oxidation process). White chocolate does not contain these substances and is much more sensitive towards oxidation.
The ideal temperature for storing chocolate is between 54°F and 68°F (12° and 20°C). At higher temperatures, the chocolate will soften and will lose its gloss. Lower storage temperatures are less risky. Care should be taken to bring cold products to room temperature to avoid condensation and sugarbloom. Fluctuating temperatures should also be avoided as they will accelerate the appearance of fatbloom. Chocolate should be protected against humidity and stored where the maximum relative humidity is 70%.
Tempering is of paramount importance as it is mainly responsible for determining the final gloss, hardness and contraction of the chocolate. Tempering consists of heating the chocolate to a specific temperature as a result of which the cocoa butter it contains is brought to the most stable crystalline form, resulting in hard shiny chocolate.
What is the best way to melt chocolate?
Chocolate melts best at temperatures between 104F and 113F (40C and 45C). Never melt chocolate directly over a heat source. Use indirect heat such as a hot water bath so that the chocolate reaches a uniform temperature of 104F to 113F. This is the perfect temperature to begin tempering or recrystallization.
To tablier chocolate (temper it by hand), melt the chocolate over a hot water bath until it reaches a temperature between 88F and 90F (31C to 34C). Melt white and milk chocolate to a temperature approximately 2F less, depending on the amount of milk fat they contain. On a cold table or marble surface: pour 2/3 of the melted chocolate onto the cold table. Spread out the chocolate mass and work with a spatula until the temperature of the chocolate is approximately 81F (27C). Add the tempered chocolate to the non-tempered chocolate and mix thoroughly until the mass in the bowl is completely uniformed. If the temperature is too high, part of the chocolate should be further worked on the cold table until the right temperatured is reached.
When a thin of fat crystals forms on the surface of the chocolate, it is called fatbloom. It means that the chocolate has lost its gloss and a soft white layer appears, giving the finished article an unappetizing look. Fatblook is caused by the recrystallization of the fats and/or a migration of a filling fat to the chocolate layer. Storage at a constant temperature will delay the appearance of fatbloom.
When the chocolate is taken out of the refrigerator and condensation collects, a rough irregular texture forms on top of the chocolate. This is called Sugarbloom. The condensation moisture dissolves the sugar in the chocolate. When the water evaporates, the sugar recrystallizes into rough, irregular crystals on the surface. This gives the chocolate an unpleasant look. Sugarbloom can be avoided by preventing temperature shocks. When chocolate comes out of a cold room, it should be stored in a warm area and allowed to come to that temperature before opening the package.
The ideal temperature for the workshop should be approximately 68F (20C). The temperature of the candies or fillings to be coated should be as close as possible to the temperature of the coating chocolate. If the temperature of the candies or fillings varies too much to that of the chocolate, the crystallization of the cocoa butter will be adversely affected. This will result in a product which is dull and is less resistent to heat. The temperature of the moulds should as close as possible to that of the workshop without being less, approximately 68F (20C). If necessary, the moulds can be warmed slightly. Take care so that the temperature of the moulds do not exceed that of the tempered chocolate. Using moulds that are of the correct temperature will result in the best possible gloss for the finished product.
IMPORTANT NOTE : During use, the tempered chocolate in the bowl may thicken further. This is the result of the rapid growth in the size of the cocoa butter crystals. This thickening of the chocolate can be prevented by adding a small quantity of warm chocolate or by increasing the temperature of the chocolate slightly.