Chemist Explains Why Refrigerated Chocolate Tastes Better

(Photo: Dan the Chemist)

The only thing better than a chocolate bar is a chocolate bar that’s been chilled. Why? Dan, a doctoral student in chemistry, explains that the cocoa butter in chocolate exists in six different forms depending on the temperature. When chocolate is about 34-36⁰C, the structure of it begins to break down. This is called “fat bloom.” You can see it when chocolate appears to turn somewhat dusty and splotchy, such as the example above. Dan writes:

You then might ask how you can tell this has happened? The change in crystal structure is usually accompanied by something called ‘fat bloom,’ which is where the chocolate begins to look dusty, and pale spots appear on the surface as shown in the attached image. We’ve all been there (you’re incredibly lucky if you haven’t). It’s off putting, but still safe to eat. It happens because of partial melting in the solid which cases the fats within it to rise to the surface. It’s this strange occurrence that leads me to believe that keeping my chocolate in the fridge is in fact the correct way to keep it, and also why all the chocolate I bought on my exchange year in Australia just didn’t taste as good as the stuff at home in the UK due to their hotter climate!


We dish up more neat food posts at the Neatolicious blog

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Colder temperatures dull your sense of taste. That's the reason why soft-serve ice cream tastes so much better than very cold ice cream. It's also why completely melted ice cream tastes TOO SWEET to drink. I expect refrigerating milk chocolate will have mostly negative effects on its taste, while dark chocolate may benefit from tasting less bitter, unless you let it warm-up again before eating.
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The difference between the fifth and sixth chocolate phase is what tempering chocolate is all about, and it is surprising it isn't referred to as such in the blog post. A lot is already written about tempering process, and it is a good, practical introduction to a bunch of science topics (things like even ice can have very complex variety of phases, just not as easy to access at home).

However, even when I lived in a hot climate, it took weeks for chocolate to lose its temper at a warm room temperature, and when it happened it is visually quite obvious. Whether or not your chocolate is cold at the time you eat it is not going to change the temper. But temperature can change what flavours you notice most, and you can already find endless arguments online about the temperature of things like beer and whiskey.
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I hate to go all plasmagryphon (sp?) on this one, but I disagree that this is a general rule.

Much more experimentation needs to be done, by everyone, on a very large sample size, over a long stretch of time. As a personal sacrifice, I will consume large amounts of different brands of chocolate, in different ways, over the next decade, in order to verify the results.
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