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Hey fellow chocolate enthusiast!

 

    I would like to go over the 5 ways you can ruin your chocolate so you can avoid them and blissfully continue with your magical chocolate creations. Now we all know how temperamental chocolate can be and there is nothing worse than having to throw away product, it makes me want to cry just thinking about it! 

 

So here we go!

Moisture

   Enemy #1 of chocolate! Moisture, water, condensation and any other form of water based liquid is the apocalypse equivalent to chocolate. Because chocolate is fat based, adding any type of water to chocolate will cause it to seize and get incredibly grainy and eventually form a solid unusable mass. You can reverse the effects but adding fat or amazingly enough a bit of honey will bring back most of the normal structure of chocolate but it won’t return fully to its original state.

   So when storing your chocolate just make sure it is in a cool dry place, avoid putting your chocolate in the fridge or the freezer if you are intending to temper with it, if you will be using your chocolate for melting and adding into recipes the fridge is okay but not ideal. 

   Chocolate will last a very long time, over a year if stored properly.

Storage

   Speaking of storage, how you keep your chocolate will make a world of difference in structure but also in flavour! 

   Yes you heard me! Flavour!

   Chocolate loves to absorb the flavours and odours of whatever it is held in so it is important to store your chocolate in an airtight clean, order less container. Wash your containers thoroughly and fully dry to avoid that pesky moisture we were talking about earlier. If you find you are going through chocolate fairly quickly -within the month- than feel free to just keep in the bag it came in, no need to make your life difficult. 

   I know this may seem like I am lecturing you, and as an experienced baker you have heard this before. It’s worth going over, even I have my moments where I overlook the obvious and if you keep this post as part of your notes you will never have to worry about reaching for your chocolate and having it smell like onions! Because that would be gross!

Tempering

   Properly tempering chocolate is extremely important and is the mark of a great baker. Chocolate is sensitive to extreme hot and cold and working within its limits is a simple technique to master once you get your head around which temperatures to hit. 

    Tempering gives the look, the smooth decadent taste that we all desire that ignites our cravings and invokes our mouths to water. The shiny shell, the crisp snap, and the smooth feeling as it melts in our mouth is all due to tempering. When chocolate is not tempered properly you get something called Bloom. Bloom is when the cocoa butter separates from the cocoa mass due to changes in temperature. When we cool chocolate without tempering you get these nasty white streaks, it will melt very quickly in your hand, give a brittle texture when you bite into it so it feels like ash in your mouth and the flavour gets dull and lacks the richness we associate with chocolate. 

Basically a huge BUMMER!

   Use my free tempering guide to keep it simple so you don’t even have to question and eliminate second guessing. It’s free and available to everyone, print it out, tape it on your wall or inside your cupboard, keep a copy on your device and you can always have access to the information you need.

Burning

I HAVE BURNED CHOCOLATE A MILLION TIMES! And it is the worst! So don’t get discouraged if you occasionally burn chocolate, SH$% happens to the best of us. 

   With chocolate never work in extremes, chocolate has a very low melting point so you don’t need to be cranking the heat on your stove or microwave in order to work with it. If working with a double boiler, keep the water a low simmer, it is all the heat that is required to melt your chocolate to get it ready for recipes or tempering. If you choose to melt your chocolate in the microwave do it in 30sec intervals stirring between each interval. It should only take a minute or two to melt your chocolate in the microwave, don’t walk away  and keep an eye on it.

   If you do burn your chocolate, depending on how bad you can save it by just removing the burned portion, passing it through a fine strainer and using a hand blender to emulsify it to bring it back , the truth is after all of that your chocolate will still have a burnt taste.

If you’ve really fucked it just put in the compost and start again.

 

Quality

Quality

   This is a choice and it will depend on what you are willing to spend, chocolate is expensive and for good reason. For those of who don’t know chocolate is a fermented product which means it takes weeks to produce cocoa pods before companies can turn the cocoa beans into what we know to be chocolate. Most cocoa beans come from farms that have been passed down through generations of the family where growing chocolate is all they know and chocolate can only be grown in very specific climates on the planet no more than 20° from the equador.

   Commercial chocolate is packed full of sugar, preservatives, stabilizers, artificial colours and flavours and they end up being dull, flavourless and major headaches.  With anything we bake you want to look for whole ingredients, ingredients that you can pronounce and understand. When buying chocolate all it should consist of is Cocoa Mass, Cocoa Butter, Sugar, Flavour such as vanilla, powdered milk if you are using milk or white chocolate, and bigger companies like Valrhona which is the chocolate brand I use will have a stabilizer such as sunflower lecithin and that is basically it folks. 

   Chocolate in its essence is a simple product and it doesn’t need all this added garbage. You will get a far better result in your recipes by getting a well crafted chocolate as well as incredible flavour along with substantial health benefits for your mind, body and the planet.