Purchasing Quality Chocolates
Choosing quality chocolates means knowing what’s in it. The first thing to do when we select a chocolate is to check the ingredients, all of which you should recognize.
To ensure that you are purchasing quality chocolates:
1. Check the ingredients label. Be sure that the list includes:
Dark chocolate must contains chocolate liquor, which sometimes called cocoa mass or cocoa solids, and also contains cocoa butter. Those are the two most essential ingredients for quality chocolates. Sugar, cane juice, molasses, or other natural sweeteners are acceptable substitutes to sweeten and soften the bitterness inside dark chocolate. Vanilla is optional. Lecithin is also optional; it is used to make the chocolate bind together better. Any other add-ins are nuts, fruits, or flavourings.
The ingredients will usually fall in roughly that order.
Milk chocolate can have all of the above, plus milk, which will be in the form of whole milk, milk powder, cream, etc. There is less cocoa mass in milk chocolate.
White chocolate does not have any cocoa mass, but it must contain cocoa butter.
2. The appearance of quality chocolate should be glossy and shiny, not dull.
3. A smooth, velvety texture on the tongue denotes a superior chocolate. It should melt easily. Reject a gritty or sandy feel.
4. When tasting chocolate, check for a slight snap when biting it. It should never be soggy or mushy.
That’s all there is to it! Next time you are in the store, try this test.
How to Store and Care Your Chocolate
Chocolate should be wrapped tightly and kept in a cool, dry place with a temperature ranging from 16-24°C (60–75°F). Dark chocolate actually improves with age, like a fine wine, if stored in an airtight container at 16-24°C (60–75°F).
If the storage temperature exceeds 24°C (75°F), some of the cocoa butter may appear on the surface, causing the chocolate to develop a whitish cast, known as “bloom.” However, the chocolate will still be fine to eat.
In hot climates or during the summer, chocolate can be stored in the refrigerator, although this isn’t an ideal method as the chocolate may absorb odors from other foods.
What is Bloom?
Blooming of chocolate products is the most common problem you will encounter in the world of chocolate. There are two kinds of “bloom” that form on the surface of chocolate: fat bloom and sugar bloom.
• Fat bloom, also known as cocoa butter bloom, is the visible accumulation of large cocoa butter crystals on the chocolate surface. This due to improper storage, poorly tempering, lack of tempering, or changes in temperature. Heating chocolate above 21°C (70°F), as well as repetitive heating and cooling, will cause this bloom. While bloom diminishes the appearance of the chocolate, it does not alter the taste and is not harmful. The chocolate will feel oily and melt when touched. In some cases it may become soft and crumbly.
• Sugar bloom is a crystallization of sugar that is often caused by high humidity and the formation of condensate (“sweating”) when cold product is brought into a warm area. Large sugar crystals remain on the surface of the chocolate when the moisture evaporates. Sugar bloom will affect the texture of chocolate, making it grainy, often dry and hard to the touch. Poor storage conditions cause fat bloom. To prevent bloom, it is important not to expose chocolate to wide fluctuations in temperature; instead, make all temperature changes gradually. Although it may look unpleasant, bloomed chocolate is fine to eat.