Chocolate Trouble-Shooting Guide: Flavor Problems

Table of Contents

Introduction

Appearance

Texture

Flavor Problems

Molding Problems

Baking

The flavor of chocolate is beautiful and complex, especially in high-quality chocolate such as ours. (If you have not yet tried our chocolate, you will be amazed at the flavor difference between our chocolate and that made by others — especially the run-of-the-mill industrial chocolate that is so readily available.)

Unfortunately, chocolate is prone to acquiring all manner of flavors from its environment or mishandling. This is often because chocolate contains cocoa butter, a fat; and like most fats, it will absorb flavors and scents from its environment. Care must be taken in processing and handling before, during, and after manufacture to prevent the chocolate from developing off flavors.

We list below a variety of the most common flavor problems encountered by chocolatiers, along with guidance on how to avoid them.

Burned Chocolate
Cause: Chocolate was overheatedSolution: Turn down the temperature, stir more rapidlyDiscussion: Unless a machine is designed especially for heating chocolate to high temperatures (about 160 F (XXX C) ), it is easy to overheat chocolate, causing it to burn, or in the case of milk chocolate, causing the milk sugars to caramelize. Turn down the temperature to ensure that the chocolate does not reach as high a temperature, and stir more aggressively to avoid hot spots.

 

Off Flavors from Storage and Packaging
Cause: Chocolate was stored near items with strong odors.Solution: Avoid storing chocolate in areas where strong odors are present.Discussion: The cocoa butter in chocolate absorbs odors readily. Be sure to store chocolate away from items that have strong odors, such as spices, or soap that includes perfumes.
Cause: Poor packaging practicesSolution: Avoid glues, labels, inks with solvents, and aromatic fungicides. Allow adequate drying time.Discussion: The cocoa butter will rapidly absorb odors from glues, inks and labels whose manufacture involved the use of solvents. If solvents must be used, they must be allowed to fully evaporate before they come into close proximity with the chocolate. The amount of time required will vary according to temperature and the availability of fresh air. If fungicides must be used, ensure that they are not aromatic.

 

Off Flavors from Manufacturing
Cause: Chocolate was handled by someone with perfumed hands.Solution: Hands should be clean when handling chocolate.Discussion: This is especially the case when chocolate candies are being hand-dipped. The cocoa butter in the chocolate will absorb odors easily. Hands should be cleaned with soap that does not contain any perfume or other scents, and as well be free of nail polish and lotions.
Cause: Utensils and molds not clean.Solution: Be sure t hat utensils, molds, and other items that may come into contact with chocolate are clean before use. Use nonperfumed detergents if they are available.Discussion: When switching between recipes, it is best to start with totally clean utensils and molds. This is especially the case if oils, mint, and other high-powered flavorings have been used. If it is not practical to clean molds and other tools between runs, schedule runs so that recipes with bolder flavors or complementary flavors follow recipes with more subtle flavors.

 

Moldy Flavors
Cause: Cracked shells allowing mold growthSolution: Increase shell thickness and examine handling practices.Discussion: If the shells are too thin, they will be prone to breakage and thus allow mold spores to enter the confection and begin mold growth. Increase the thickness of the shells to allow for less than gentle handling, or reexamine handling practices to avoid breakage.
Cause: Mold growth on centers.Solution: Reduce water availability in centers. Centers need to be made in clean, mold-free room.Discussion: Centers with high water availability are more prone to mold growth. To avoid mold growth, decrease water availability in centers and eliminate any trapped air. The centers may also pick up mold spores if the rooms in which they are made and coated are not clean and dry.
Cause: Fans or cooling tunnel not clean.Solution: Eliminate sources of condensation. Clean fans and cooling tunnels in order to eliminate any odors that may be present. Ensure that they are dried quickly, to eliminate mold growth.Discussion: Trapped water or condensation on any fans, blowers or cooling tunnels will promote mold growth or the fermentation of any spilled food products. Eliminate sources of water, condensation and fermentation. Kill mold with bleach solution, and aerate to eliminate mold odors.

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