How to Store Chocolate


HowtoStoreChocolateIt is time to start stocking up on your holiday baking essentials (alternative opening: HOW is November nearly half over already?!?), so let’s talk about storing one very important ingredient: how to store chocolate!

Shelf Life:

Most chocolate bars and chocolate chips will last about one year, if stored properly.  Because it doesn’t have the antioxidants inherent in cocoa solids, white chocolate will not last quite as long.  Darker chocolates may last longer.

Temperature:

Chocolate should be kept at room temperature, ideally between 60 – 65 or 70F.  Anything colder or warmer will damage the texture of the chocolate via sugar or fat bloom (more on those below).

Sealed:

The fat in chocolate is susceptible to picking up off-flavors. To avoid ending up with garlic-scented chocolate or the like, keep the chocolate in its original wrapper, and store the whole thing in an airtight container or bag.

Dark and Dry:

Keep the chocolate out of the light and in a dry area. Storing chocolate in a humid environment (or in a too-cold environment), like that of a refrigerator, will often lead to sugar bloom.  Sugar bloom looks like “dust” on the surface of chocolate, and happens when water dissolves the sugar on the chocolate’s surface and then the sugar recrystallizes.  Chocolate with sugar bloom is perfectly safe to eat, and will taste the same as un-bloomed chocolate, but the texture will be grainier.  You’d be better off using chocolate with sugar bloom for melting or baking, when the texture will matter less.

Fat Bloom:

You may also notice fat bloom on the surface of your chocolate, which looks very similar to sugar bloom.  In fat bloom, cocoa butter within the chocolate melts, migrates to the surface, and then recrystallizes. It is often caused when chocolate wasn’t originally tempered properly, or was stored at too high or fluctuating temperatures. Again, it doesn’t affect the flavor, but it does impair the quality of the chocolate.

Brain Food 101: Gluten in All-Purpose Flour

FlourBags

So, let’s talk flour.  The last time we talked about it, I focused on the different types of wheat flour.  Today, we’re focusing on one type in particular: all-purpose flour.

All-purpose flour typically contains between 9 and 11% gluten, depending on the brand and the region where you are purchasing the flour. Gluten, as you may know, is a combination of two proteins which, when mixed with moisture, form a network and support structure for baked goods.  The more gluten a flour contains, the more moisture is absorbed by the dry ingredients, and the less a baked good will spread.

The question is, does using all-purpose flour from one end of the gluten range or the other really affect the outcome when you are testing baking recipes?

I bought three bags of all-purpose flour and got to testing.

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Highest Gluten Level: King Arthur Flour

To determine the amount of gluten in each type of flour, I divided the amount of protein per serving by the serving size.  This may not be a 100% accurate percentage, but it gives us a good idea of the relative gluten amounts between flours.

A bag of unbleached all-purpose flour from King Arthur Flour has 4 grams of protein per 30 gram serving, so the flour is 13.3% protein, which we are going to assume is largely gluten. Note that this falls well above the typical 9-11% range for all-purpose flours.

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The In-Between Gluten Level: Wegman’s Flour

With 3 grams of protein in a 31 gram serving, the unbleached all-purpose flour from Wegman’s comes in at 9.7% protein.

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Lowest Gluten Level: White Lily Flour

I unfortunately couldn’t find an unbleached flour to represent the lowest gluten level, so I can’t fully control for that variable. This White Lily all-purpose flour has only 6.7% protein, which is much lower than the typical all-purpose flour.

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The Results

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