I keep trimmings or whole bars of Xoconat chocolate that I have made in the fridge up to two years for QC purposes. I do this so I can recommend how long after production the customer can hold on to the bar and still enjoy it as intended. Age, as we all know, tends to change our character a bit.
My Chaisika bar (developed mid July 2020) was unwittingly put through its paces. I brought this back home from the shop and forgot about it in my (unairconditioned) roasting/winnowing kitchen on a worktable. After a week of Bangkok's extreme rain, fluctuating humidity and plenty of heat, I found it today and was pleasantly surprised that the chocolate bar (68% single origin Chai dark chocolate infused with shop-blended chai spices and pistachio buttercrunch toffee crumble) was still in perfect temper. Meaning, the bar had not dulled or bloomed, but remained glossy and shiny and the toffee crumble hadn't leaked from sugar condensation.
Excellent temper is crucial to the shelf-life of a chocolate bar. The perfect alignment of beta crystals gives the chocolate maker a stable product. My customers worry about how they should store chocolate. Some have heard they should never refrigerate their chocolate. Some swear by their wine fridges. I swear by the power of an excellent temper. And, on my customers' good ole’ common sense. Yes, if your home doesn't enjoy a natural ambient temperature of 76F or below, you can absolutely store your chocolate in the fridge.
Some quick chocolate storage tips:
Of course, big no, no – do not leave your chocolate in direct sun. Do not leave it sitting on your dryer or car dashboard or treadmill (no judgement). And do be careful of condensation from the packaging if you have taken the chocolate directly from the fridge and out into a hot room. Water and chocolate do not mix and those little droplets of water will cause bloom. Along with that other stuff.
But, if – as this bar experienced – if the bar goes from fridge to cool room to unairconditioned room – and if the chocolate maker has achieved perfect temper, the bar should remain shiny, glossy, ie, in temper. There may be a loss of snap due to slight melt, but aesthetically, the bar should not look damaged.
A bar that can't stand a little of life's fluctuations -- uncontrolled temperatures, mishandling, sore feelings -- a bar that was not tempered to achieve maximum crystallization; well, that bar will bloom and cloud and crumble. The beta crystals will bristle in disharmony, exit the party, go to their own rooms, slamming the door on their way out of temper.
All this to say, this inclusion bar is in excellent condition! Nine months old and ignored in a hot room for a week, notwithstanding, the Chai flavor is still aromatic with notes of cinnamon, cardamom and anise, and the toffee crumbles are still crystalline and crunchy. A very pleasant surprise treat.
I’d say we’re just in time for me to do a short run of the Chaisika bars again this fall.
PS, I just unearthed an old notebook that dates my early forays into tempering chocolate from February 2010. Let me know if you guys want to see it!
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