Saturday, May 19, 2012

Help! My chocolate bar has MELTED!

Has this ever happened to you? You bought a chocolate bar while out shopping or on vacation and discovered, upon opening the wrapping at home, that the chocolate was dull and had a greyish-white film on it.  What’s more, its texture was chalky. Most often, that white film on the chocolate is called “bloom”, and it happens when chocolate is exposed to sun, heat or humidity. The culprit is usually a warm car or bus ride, or a retailer who has their chocolate display sitting in direct sunlight.

Bloom simply means that sugar has risen to the surface of the chocolate bar because it was exposed to heat or humidity.  Alternately, the chocolate could appear whitish because the cocoa butter did not crystallize properly when the chocolate was made (i.e. it was not in temper when poured into the moulds). The texture is affected – it will seem chalky or crumbly – but the taste is not changed all that much. Although bloom annoying, it is not unhealthy for you. And it can be very disappointing if your chocolate was expensive, had special flavourings or toppings sprinkled on it, and particularly if you wanted to taste and compare this chocolate bar in its original form to other similar chocolate bars.
But when this happens to you, put aside your disappointment and create something new and wonderful from your overheated chocolate.  Melt that chocolate bar down and bring it back to life WITHOUT the bloom!
That is exactly what I did when I opened two Green & Blacks chocolate bars that were gifted to me recently. They had come from sunny and warm Florida to Northern Ontario by car and did not survive the trip unmelted. 
When I opened the chocolate bars, they were both completely white with bloom.  So what did I do?  I broke up both the Green & Black's organic 70% and the 80% chocolate bars and reheated and tempered the chocolate.  Then I poured it into some chocolate bar moulds and voila!  I now have 6 wonderful mini chocolate bars made from Green & Blacks Trinitario organic chocolate with about 77% cocoa solids.
The best part is:  I turned those 100-gram chocolate bars into perfectly portion-controlled sizes. Now I can’t overindulge and I can eat one each day for six days! 
So there you have it: you never have to eat chocolate with bloom again! When chocolate has bloom, the texture is crumbly and definitely not as nice as it was before the chocolate was improperly stored in high temperatures. This is a very satisfying trick that I have used time and time again and I highly recommend it. (See below for a quick melt-and-temper method using your microwave)
So how can you prevent bloom in the first place? For starters, if know that you will buy chocolate when you are out shopping or on vacation, make sure that you have a little cooler bag – even a small insulated lunch bag will do.  You can also wrap the chocolate in newspaper to keep it cool for a short car trip.  And be sure it is not exposed to the sun or left in a hot car when you run errands on the way home.  
And if it was not you who overheated it, but rather the retailer where you bought it from (i.e. you noticed the chocolate on display in direct sunlight in the store) go back to the retailer and tell them what happened and recommend that they move their chocolate display to a more chocolate-friendly location.  This happens time and time again and it is unfair to both the consumers and especially to the manufacturers who work so hard to create the perfect-tasting chocolate bar.
The funny thing is, after all that melting and re-forming of the chocolate, I took my last mini chocolate bar with me on a day-long car trip.  It was a sunny and warm day and guess what happened?  Well, the picture to the left explains it all....
The package details on the two chocolate bars that I wrote about today are below, followed by a quick microwave method to melt and temper your chocolate:
Green & Black’s Organic Dark 70%, 3.5 oz (100g)
Green & Black’s Chocolate Limited
Ingredients: Organic chocolate liquor, organic raw cane sugar, organic cocoa butter, soy lecithin (emulsifier), organic vanilla extract, organic whole milk powder.  Contains: milk and soy ingredients.  May contain tree nuts and peanuts.
Green & Black’s Organic Dark 85%, 3.5 oz (100g)
Green & Black’s Chocolate Limited
Ingredients: Organic chocolate liquor, organic cocoa butter, organic fat-reduced cocoa powder, organic raw cane sugar, organic vanilla extract, soy lecithin (emulsifier), organic whole milk powder.  Contains: milk and soy ingredients.  May contain tree nuts and peanuts.

Quick microwave melting and tempering method:

1.     Break up your chocolate into 1-inch pieces and place the chopped chocolate in a heat-proof bowl.

2.     Microwave for two minutes on half power.  Then stir until melted.  If the remaining chunks are not melting, place back in microwave for only 5 seconds more.

3.     To test the chocolate for temperature, dip the back of your baby finger in the chocolate.  If the chocolate feels warm, stir until it cools.  If the chocolate is too cool, you may need to warm it for 5 more seconds in the microwave.  If the chocolate is the same temperature as the back of your baby finger, it is ready. 

4.    Pour the chocolate into moulds.  If you do not have moulds, you can spread it on some wax paper in a thick coat.  As it starts to set you can use a knife to cut rectangles for thin bars. If the chocolate is fully set, warm up your knife under hot water (be sure to dry the water off before you cut the chocolate!)  You can also pour the chocolate into the bottoms of round plastic containers or ice cube trays or whatever you have in the house to create interesting shapes for your chocolate.  Be creative!

5.     Place the moulds into the fridge and wait 24 hours.  Turn out onto the counter.  Store in an airtight bag or container until consumed!

Thursday, May 3, 2012

The Best Chocolate Truffles I Ever Made

Caramélia.  That’s my new favourite word.  Caramélia.   What does it mean?  It is the precise mixture of caramel and MMMMMMmmmmm.  Okay, so it isn’t exactly a technical description right out of the dictionary, but that is what it means to me.

A few weeks back I received a sample package of Caramélia from the newest Valrhona office in Montreal, Canada.  I was told it was a milk chocolate couverture that was infused with rich caramel (made from real skim milk and butter) and ideal for the professional baker, chef or chocolatier.  I was a little leery, being unsure how chocolate and caramel could be combined, while still maintaining a solid chocolate form.  I also assumed that I would find it way too sweet for me, since I generally prefer dark chocolate.

But....Wow!  That was all I could say after I tasted Valrhona’s CARAMÉLIA chocolate.  I found it difficult to stop eating after just a few pieces; it was one of the best milk chocolates that I have ever tasted.  Imagine your favourite, creamy, rich caramel sauce combined with the best milk chocolate you could find, and it melts in your mouth instantly and smoothly.  THAT was the experience of eating CARAMÉLIA by Valrhona. 

By way of sheer will power and out-loud arguments with myself, I somehow managed to save enough to make a batch of chocolate “caramélia” truffles.  I wanted to create something from the chocolate in order to really understand its workability and potential as a couverture.

Truthfully, these were the BEST chocolate truffles that I have ever made (if i do say so myself).  And I think I make pretty good chocolate truffles.  I decided to keep it simple and just use cream and the chocolate (this stuff did NOT need any more butter added to it!). 


Milk Chocolate Caramel Truffles Recipe m

made with Valrhona Caramélia Milk Chocolate

  • 8 oz Valrhona ‘CARAMÉLIA' chocolate (you can just use regular milk chocolate if you can’t find this - it won’t have a caramel flavour but it will still be good)
  • ½ cup heavy (whipping) cream
  • 8 oz Valrhona ‘Caramelia’ chocolate (or simple milk chocolate) for dipping and enrobing the truffles

Step 1: Place chocolate in a stainless steel or glass bowl (one of the great things about Valrhona couvertures is that they are already in pieces so you don’t have to chop anything!)

Step 2: Place cream in a small sauce pan.  Heat to the boiling point and immediately pour over the chocolate.  Stir with a wooden spoon slowly (keep spoon on bottom of bowl at all times to prevent air bubbles from forming) and stir until all chocolate is smooth and lump free.

Step 3: Place cellophane wrap directly over chocolate truffle mixture to prevent a film from forming on the top.  Also place a lid on the bowl.  Let set on countertop for 6-8 hours or overnight. 

Step 4: Once the mixture is set (solid enough to roll balls),  use rubber gloves to roll balls in the palm of your hands.  Make whatever size you like (these tasty truffles should be gigantic because they are sooooo good!).

Step 5: Melt and temper 8 oz of Valrhona Caramélia milk chocolate or other milk chocolate (click here to see find a quick microwave temper method or here for more scientific methods).  When ready, dip truffles using dipping tools or regular fork and place on wax paper to cool. Once set, can be frozen in an airtight container for consumption at any time!  Otherwise, keeps up to 10 days.  Tastes best if consumed at room temperature.

Want other truffle recipes? Here you go:

Here are the details on Valrhona’s CARAMELIA milk chocolate, which you can find in Canada at Lentia ( which has two locations, Surrey, BC and  Brampton, ON) or check the U.S. Valrhona website for details on where to find this chocolate in your area (

Valrhona CARAMELIA milk chocolate, 3kg
Ingredients: sugar, cocoa butter, caramel (skimmed milk, whey, sugar, butter, flavoring), whole milk powder, cocoa beans, emulsifier: soya lecithin. 36% cocoa min., 34.5% sugar, 20% whole milk, 38% fat.
Description: “Genuine dairy­-based caramel from skim milk and butter. Silky smooth with a clear cocoa note and hints of caramel.”