Thursday, January 04, 2007


Now let's organize the chocolate! Yes, I said organize the chocolate. Not many of you will have the need to perform this task, but I certainly do. You see I buy chocolate all the time. I have small pieces, like a couple of bars of Scharffenberger, or some of the new Nestle 63% Chocolatier morsels, and a bar of Schokinag white chocolate to boot. That's not counting the 200 pounds of various Peter's chocolate in dark and milk on hand.

Yes, my name is chronicler, and I'm a chocolate hound! So I'll share a bit of interesting facts about chocolate storage. For instance, did you know that chocolate actually emits molecules into the air as it ages. That's why they say chocolate is best when it is fresh. Not that it gets old and tired, but it actually begins to die as soon as it is exposed to air. I am sure there are some very scientific explanations for the process, but for now that will have to suffice.

Manufactured chocolates, like you buy from an artisan chocolatier, the shelf life is very narrow. It is almost an 'eat it here now!', for best results. Mass producers add preservatives to slow the aging process, but it still isn't as good as the day it came off the assembly line. So what should you do?

For best results, use chocolate within six months. However, the darker the chocolate, the longer the life. Chocolate will still be good a year out, but that's only if you've taken the time to store it properly. If you have a large supply, when you first bring it home, get out your sealer (what you don't have one???) and seal the chocolate in your average use quantities. A pound is usually a good rule of thumb. Wrapping it in foil is a good choice also. Then it should be stored in a cool dry place. You can store chocolatein the refrigerator or freezer, but you run a huge risk if you get any moisture in it. A small drop of water can sieze chocolate and then all you have is a mess. That's a good reason why your chocolate dipped strawberries didn't turn out the first time you made them. Water and chocolate are not friends. Keep in mind that heat rises and so the lower shelves are better for storing chocolate.

Heat is also not a huge friend of chocolate. It causes "bloom". It is a chemical condition of the chocoalte when it was not heated and then cooled correctly. Chocolate tempering is for another day, but just know, chocolate is delicate and needs to be treated well. Why else would it have so many devotees?

I am, hopefully, going to chocolate school in April. The end of April. I will be learning how to make European Confections at UC Davis. That is if they don't cancel the class. Just before Christmas, I got a phone call informing me of staffing problems and that the class had been cancelled. I was heartsick. I have waited for five years to be able to take the class and now this! Then just before Christmas the director called, we chatted, and there may be a chance that they'll still be doing the class. Please keep me in your thoughts and hope along with me. I am so looking forward to the specialized training I'll be receiving.

So with thatI'll leave you to your chocolate. Enjoy a nibble with me. There is so much more to talk about on chocolate and we'll take it bit by bit, just like the chocolate!