Keep your chocolate looking – and tasting – at its best
So, you’ve been saving your favourite luxury chocolate, only to find chocolate bloom on the surface when you finally get round to eating it. Could anything be more frustrating? Not only do these white blemishes look strange, but they can also be quite disconcerting to eat if you don’t know what they are.
What is chocolate bloom?
Chocolate ‘bloom’ refers to a white, chalky, and generally unattractive finish often found on the surface of chocolate. Although it is completely harmless, it can make it look like there is something wrong with your chocolate — which can be particularly annoying if you’re looking to give it as a gift.
If you want to stop chocolate bloom from occurring, then it’s good to know what’s going on!
What causes it?
There are two types of chocolate bloom that you should know about: sugar bloom and fat bloom. Neither is ‘worse’ than the other, but each arises due to different physical processes taking place within the chocolate.
Fat bloom is caused by cocoa butter. When the cocoa butter in the chocolate melts, it subsequently crystallizes to form a dull white finish on the surface and sometimes throughout the chocolate. This is ‘fat bloom’ and causes the chocolate to lose its satisfying snap and shine.
This often occurs for one of two reasons. It could be incorrect tempering – the process of creating an even distribution of cocoa butter crystals in the chocolate during the melting and solidifying process. Or, this might have happened because you stored the chocolate at too high a temperature — which can cause the cocoa butter in the chocolate to melt and move to the surface.
Chocolate bloom is the scourge of the chocolate maker. If you’ve been getting into making your own chocolate at home but are still a rookie, then correct tempering is something to keep an eye on.
Your shop-bought chocolate should have been made by experienced chocolatiers, like ours (at least you would hope!), so incorrect tempering shouldn’t be an issue. Nevertheless, bear in mind that fat bloom can still occur if you store your chocolate in a hot place in your home.
Be careful about where you choose to keep your chocolate goods, especially if they’re going to be there for a while. A cool, dark cupboard away from strong smells is ideal.
Chocolate suffering from sugar bloom usually develops a rough, whitish surface and a grainy texture. Chocolate bloom often occurs as a result of temperature shock or if you store your chocolate in a humid environment.
What is temperature shock? Well, this is what happens when you transfer chocolate from a warm or hot location (perhaps an open shelf right next to the oven) to a cold one like the fridge. Condensation occurs on the surface of the chocolate due to the sudden temperature change, which then reacts with the sugar in the chocolate. When is this most likely to happen? If you put your chocolate moulds into the fridge to cool straight after making them, then you are risking temperature shock. Let them cool down at room temperature first!
Humidity can cause issues too because when stored in a humid place, moisture can dissolve the sugar in your chocolate. When this re-crystallizes (and it will) it will result in annoying surface imperfections.
If you want to make your chocolate the best it can be, ensure you follow your recipe to a T, brush up on your tempering knowledge and store your creations correctly. If you find chocolate bloom on your shop-bought chocolate straight after buying, then this could be a result of it being kept at an incorrect storage temperature at some point in the production line.
Is bloomed chocolate safe?
The good news is that whatever type of bloom is affecting your chocolate, it’s still completely safe to eat. Ultimately, chocolate bloom doesn’t affect the taste or shelf life of your chocolate, you just have to accept a slightly different appearance — which can still be frustrating if you’re giving it as a gift! This is good to know, however, if you prefer to eat your chocolate straight from the fridge.
Can chocolate bloom give you a bad tummy?
As chocolate bloom is just a separation of the ingredients in your chocolate, it shouldn’t make you ill. Chocolate is a non-perishable food due to its high sugar content — a bit of chocolate bloom doesn’t mean that it’s turned bad or gone off.
Chocolate bloom can look like mould on the surface of the bar, leaving some people unconvinced that it’s really harmless. However, it’s actually quite difficult for chocolate to grow mould as it lacks the moisture necessary for its growth. If you do get a bad tummy after eating a few squares of the stuff, you might be allergic to an ingredient such as milk or soy, so if you know you’re sensitive to any allergens always check the back of the bar.
Will it taste different?
Opinions differ regarding this question, but no, chocolate bloom should not change the taste of your chocolate — you should be able to enjoy it just the same as non-bloomed chocolate. If, in your opinion, it does taste different (and this bothers you), designate it as your cooking chocolate so nothing goes to waste. If it tastes really awful, then your chocolate might well be off — if in doubt, don’t eat it.
How to fix chocolate bloom
The best thing to do is to prevent chocolate bloom from happening in the first place. As both types of chocolate bloom occur when chocolate isn’t stored properly, this should be your first consideration. Ideally, you should be storing your chocolate in an air-tight container in a cool, dark place. We recommend aiming for somewhere around 20 degrees Celsius.
This can be difficult, especially if you live somewhere particularly warm or in the summer months, but try not to give in to the temptation to resort to the fridge as it will be too humid for your chocolate in there. Find the coolest part of your kitchen, or if it’s just too hot, store it somewhere else in your house. Finding a spot with a stable temperature is key, so avoid rooms that fluctuate between hot and cold.
Can I keep my chocolate in the fridge?
Of course, if you aren’t concerned about the appearance of your chocolate treats, then don’t worry — you can pop them in the fridge if you’d prefer. As we’ve discussed, the chocolate bloom is completely safe to eat (it just doesn’t look so aesthetically pleasing) so this advice isn’t for food safety reasons. If you’re going to be melting the chocolate down (fondue anyone?) or using it in baking as chocolate chips — even better! The bloom will re-integrate into the chocolate when you heat it and no one will know that it was ever even there.
To get rid of chocolate bloom once and for all, you can always melt down the chocolate and re-mould it into a shape of your choice.
Next time you notice a bit of bloom on a chocolatey treat, don’t be so hasty to throw it away — enjoy it as it is, or if you don’t like the texture, melt it down and use it in your baking. Alternatively, if you don’t want to eat it, then you’ll probably be able to find someone who will!