Sydney is sweltering through its hottest summer on record, and the rest of Australia is not far behind. While you may love the heat, your chocolate definitely doesn’t but hot weather doesn’t have to put a stop to it.
So how can you protect your chocolate during the summer heat? Ideally you should keep your chocolate in a cool, dark place with low levels of humidity and away from strong odours. Somewhere 16-18 degrees is perfect for long term storage but anything with a maximum of 24 degrees on the hot days should be okay.
If chocolate gets too hot then it loses its ‘temper’ (don’t we all?!). Tempering is the process that gives chocolate it’s crisp snap and gorgeous shine. If your chocolate has melted in the heat, you might notice that as well as changing shape, it gets a whitish coating on the outside. This ‘bloom’ happens when the cocoa butter rises to the outside of the bar.
Don’t despair if this ever happens. It might change the texture, and it probably won’t snap anymore but you should find it still tastes exactly the same. Yay! If you can’t bare to eat it and you have some skills, or are up for a challenge, you can always re-temper your chocolate – make a bar, truffle or blob – what fun! If you can’t be bothered, your untempered chocolate is still perfect for baking, stirring it through your muesli or keeping till winter to make hot chocolate!
Prevention is better than cure. So if you don’t have a room that stays below 24 you are pretty safe if you have a wine fridge and run it on its warmest setting. The key thing is to keep the bars dry, so don’t open it often and the humidity will actually stay lower than in your house – especially when the storms come through.
Don’t have a wine fridge? As a last resort, you can use your regular fridge to keep them alive. You do need to take a few precautions however. Put your bars in an airtight container (e.g. a good Tupperware or zip-lock bags). This will protect the bars from odours in the fridge (chocolate absorbs odours!) and also minimise the humidity it is exposed to (regular fridges have high levels of humidity). The key objective is to avoid condensation forming on the chocolate. It can happen when you take your chocolate in and out of the fridge and the temperature changes too quickly. You’ll know if you’re in trouble if the chocolate has dull spots on it (you won’t be able to retemper it then but again it should still taste the same). A good strategy is to wrap your container in a towel before you put it in the fridge. Extra towels when you first take it out will help slow the warming process.
Whatever you do, always try to wait until the chocolate is back at room temperature before you eat it. When chocolate is cold it doesn’t melt in your mouth as easily, and this means the flavour doesn’t disperse. The flavours in cacao beans can be best tasted around its melting so your aim is to let it gradually melt in your mouth to maximise the sensations. Treat your chocolate like an expensive red wine, get it out and ready plenty of time before you want to enjoy it.
So there you go, stay cool and enjoy the summer but keep your chocolate cool and enjoy! If you have any specific questions about how to store your chocolate feel free to get in touch.