Level: Novice
Reading Time: 7 minutes
It is about aging or blocking the chocolate right after the melanger/conching.
I have always blocked them untempered for about 2 weeks before melting them for use. But I heard some professional chefs said they age them in tempered form.
Questions:
- Any difference aging in tempered and untempered form
- Aging time & other conditions such as room temperature, humidity, sealing block in transparent bag or completely sealed from light.

 

The short answer here is that I can’t come up with any theory that would explain why tempered chocolate would age differently than untampered chocolate assuming you are keeping both sealed in an airtight bag, cool, dry and away from light.

Similarly I don’t have experience that leads me to think there is a different either.

Here is my thinking.

The key is that in aging, something chemically needs to change.  There are two options.  Either there is something already inside the chocolate that is reacting or something outside the chocolate (like oxygen or light) is reacting.  If you have sealed it away in an airtight bag in the dark you eliminate the second option.

Since you asked about tempered vs not, the difference is in the crystal structure of the cocoa butter.  In order to have an effect on flavor, the cocoa butter itself (as in the mostly flavorless triglycerides) would need to chemically react and again I don’t see that occurring since triglycerides are chemically inert at room temperature.

But if we remove some of the constraints and look into how chefs might use chocolate, then the situation starts to change.

I’m going to keep the cool and dry requirement in place but remove the air tight one.  At that point you open the chocolate to reactions with oxygen.

Untempered chocolate will bloom over time and over time the texture can change.  At that point it is hard to work with it and not have it crumble. That crumbling increases the surface area of the chocolate greatly and gives places that oxygen can react. 

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Even without crumbling I have watched untempered chocolate expand enough to burst the seam on a sealed plastic bag.  I could conceivably believe the chocolate is becoming porous enough at that point to allow oxygen to enter the chocolate and change the flavor.

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Tempered chocolate on the other hand contracts.  You can see this as the chocolate pulls away from the mold when you have a good temper.  That means it is more dense and therefore more resistant to oxygen permeating inside the chocolate.

I have my doubts though that is the reason many professionals store their chocolate tempered.  I submit it is out of  convenience.  Once tempered it is easier to work with.  It melts at a higher temperature.  It grates and chops nicely instead of crumbling. And if you are careful, you can melt it and use it in the tempered state without having to temper small amount each time you work with it.

As it is, I am kind of skeptical there is aging in chocolate.  I think the flavor may take a little time to stabilize but it is going to happen no matter what and pretty quickly. To my mind the goal of a maker of homemade chocolate is to minimize degradation of your fresh chocolate. I can’t think of a product that truly ages that does not eventually go beyond the point where it is good. 

  • Wine will go sour. 
  • Cheese will go bad (or flavorless). 
  • Scotch will become too woody.

And the list goes on and on.  Aged things don’t hold forever. 

And I have never personally had a chocolate that has made it to that state.  It may bloom, but upon re-tempering it is still fine; maybe not quite as vibrant as before, but not actively bad.

So to my mind the better question is “Is there any difference storing chocolate tempered or untampered?”

I don’t think so.

To that end, I have never actively tested this.  Right this moment I have a random batch of chocolate in a test melanger (more on that project later) that I am going to store in different ways and evaluate in a month.  Offhand I am thinking:

  • Untempered, bulk sealed and unsealed.
  • Tempered sealed and unsealed (bulk)
  • Tempered bar, sealed vs unsealed.

At the end, I’ll temper the untempered ones and taste them all and report back.

Hrm, that seems a whole lot like the scientific method….

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