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I've noticed chocolatiers mention that they age their product. Why would that be beneficial? Or is it marketing to put it in league with other aged products (because I understand aging cheese, wine, and alcohol allow for further enzymatic/biological activity to occur and in the case of wines, vinegars, and alcohols to allow the vanillins and other flavors of the container to mix in, but as far as I can tell chocolate does not undergo the same) ?

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James,
I have tasted my own chocolate over the course of months and find that the flavor does undergo some change-how much I can not say, but there is a change. Flavors don't necessarily mellow, but I think they "unify" with one and other. (Apologize for the ambiguity in the word choice, but that's how I'd describe it)

DeVries says he is able to leave more acids in the chocolate, (conching in a very traditional roller style conche) and by aging 6 months those acids also age and mature like wine.

http://m.rockymountainnews.com/news/2008/feb/14/a-conversation-with...


Another possible reason for aging chocolate would be for stable beta crystal formation. I don't have the references in front of me, but I believe that Minifie and Beckett both talk about the most stable form of beta crystals only being able to form off of solid chocolate-hence the commno practice to "seed" melted chocolate with tempered solid chocolate. I my observations, the quality of temper is just as critical to the taste of the final product as the rest of the processing.

I recently tasted 2 Cluizel Los Ancones bars, one in perfect temper, and one fat bloomed- I cursed Dean and Deluca for overcharging me for a terrible tasting bar, but when I received a new bar in the mail, I was blown away by the taste.

I'll give you an anecdote that I recently heard from Steve De Vries-you can take it how you like(he might be one of the pioneers of this practice). He told me that a colleague of his had tried chocolate in germany that was aged for 20 years and it was described to have many similar aged flavor traits as a fine single malt scotch. Regardless its worth the experiment to set aside some chocolate to se what happens to it over the course of time.

I think, like Steve does, that there are so many possible flavors that can come from chocolate- everything from the tree all the way to the processing and possibly storage and aging affect flavor. Although it will take a long time to experiment with the technique of long aging, it may prove to be a new (or old if you ask De Vries) vehicle for more flavors in the finished product.
Hi James,

Let me post a section of an interview that I did for Cocoa Content:
http://www.cocoacontent.com/interview_patric.html

My response also includes an interesting quote from life-long chocolate industry insider, the late L. Russell Cook, that may interest you.

"CC: Do you age your chocolate, and if so, how much importance do you place in aging?

Yes, I do age my chocolate. It is aged in large blocks prior to tempering and molding, and I think that aging definitely does make a positive difference in overall flavor, at least that is what my taste-buds and nose tell me based on aging my own chocolate. Let me quote an interesting passage written by L. Russell Cook from his excellent book “Chocolate Production and Use:”

The deliberate aging of chocolate has for many years been recognized as an important part of the manufacturing process of high quality dark chocolate, in that it develops flavors that can be acquired in no other way. It is true that conching accomplishes some of the purposes of aging, but it cannot substitute for it. Just what scientific explanation could clarify the causes or effects of aging, no one knows. Oxidation and chemical interaction among complex organic compounds of the material we know as chocolate undoubtedly take place, but that is a most unsatisfactory answer to the question of just what occurs. All that we know is that some of the most prized dark chocolates ever made are quite ordinary and, in some cases, almost objectionable when freshly made. Yet, when aged three to six months, these products are truly ‘food of the gods.’

It is interesting to see that 25-30 years after this passage was written, there really still aren’t many scientific studies that would explain flavor changes during aging. We understand better that cacao and chocolate absorb oxygen fairly readily, which may allow for the oxidation changes that Cook describes, and it is clearer, according to some authors, what some of the chemical changes possible during storage may be, such as an increase of furans, chemicals responsible for toasty and caramel flavors, and development of sulfur compounds that likely impact the chocolate flavor in a positive way, but these explanations are still rather rudimentary, and since large companies, who have the funds to hire food scientists/technologists, do not age their chocolate, I would be surprised if much more scientific data would be added in the coming years. So, we are left with having to use old-fashioned scientific instruments to tell if aging makes a difference…our noses and mouths.
"

Let me also add that though Holy Cacao is right about crystal type migration over time, aged chocolate is, in every case that I have heard of, melted down and tempered after aging, so that the crystals are all destroyed and temper must be restored prior to molding. In other words, aging shouldn't have any impact on texture as it relates to crystal types in these cases. Also, since Beta 6 crystals actually have a higher melting point than Beta 5, if chocolate were to be mostly composed of Beta 6 crystals, it would not melt as readily in the mouth, and would, therefore, lead to a worse mouthfeel.

Also, I am one of those chocolate makers who ages my chocolate, and I make no secret of it, and though I guess that anything that is mentioned is marketing in some since, my decision to age the chocolate is not based upon wanting to market it more effectively, but rather upon flavor, and actually, I can tell you that most people absolutely do not pay attention, at least at this point, to the details of chocolate making such as aging, or even conching. 99.99% of the people who eat my chocolate have no clue that I age the chocolate, and even when they do find out, they rarely seem to care particularly. They just care about flavor. That being the case, it it were just marketing, it would be a pretty dumb business decision on my part as it requires me to spend a significant amount of money on cacao and labor prior to busy chocolate sales seasons just to get enough chocolate on the shelves every week to supply my estimated weekly need down the line.

Finally, to answer your question from another perspective, I don't think that it is the aging of chocolate that puts it into a league with other products such as cheese, wine, beer, and balsamic. I think that it is the overall complexity of the product in terms of preparation and flavor, including that fact that the cacao from which chocolate is made is both fermented and roasted, a claim that only a handful of other foods can boast. And anyway, fermentation, at the least, is something shared by the other foods mentioned above.

Very best,

Alan
Alan,
I just wanted to clarify regarding beta 6-maybe you can help me understand this better. My point about the beta 6 formation was not that aging would produce a better eating chocolate. But it seems usingbeta 6 as seed produces a better temper, and this only occurs over time. It seems to me that you would not want to melt all of your aged chocolate but maybe only 2/3 and use the rest to temper.
The idea of tempering with beta 6 seems odd to me for two reasons:

Firstly is the fact that the standard chocolate literature, such as Beckett, always claims that it is very difficult to form beta 6 crystals quickly and directly.

Secondly, and most importantly from my perspective, is the fact that beta 6 crystals have a melting point of 97 F as opposed to the 93-95 F of Beta 5, which impacts melting properties.

Because of the first reason, I have my doubts about beta 6 crystals being useful for tempering, and regarding the second, I don't see why increasing the melting temperature to the detriment of mouthfeel, even if the end result is a slightly more shelf-stable product, would be something most chocolate makers/chocolatiers would want to do.

That said, I know that there is a product on the market called Beta 6 that, similarly to Mycryo, is supposed to seed completely untempered chocolate. I still have my doubts about it regarding whether any beta 6 crystals are actually catalyzing additional beta 6 crystal growth, but admittedly, cocoa butter crystallization is a very complex topic, and even the experts don't know everything there is to know, so you won't find me defending my position dogmatically if relevant information comes to light to the contrary.

Either way, it is interesting to think about.
In Beckett's "Science of Chocolate", page 111 he states,

"Recently a method has been developed to produce small cocoa butter crystals by spray chilling. Once they have transformed to form VI, they are used to seed chocolate."

I think the importance of seeding is the size of the fat crystal used as seed-as beckett mentions later and the distribution. I agree that is hard to REALLY know what works better, it just seems that since melting form VI into form V in chocolate held at say 104°F, would provide the necessary seed. Form V would probably melt before it could act as seed.

Although this is just my understanding- definitely open to being told I'm wrong.
Hi Jo,

You keep catching me at the end of the day away from my books and papers. The Beckett book that I was referencing was Industrial Chocolate Manufacture and Use, but I know that the updated Science of Chocolate does contain some sections that include more recent studies. I'll have to take a look tomorrow.

By the way, it looks like a new edition of Industrial Chocolate Manufacture and Use has been released as of today:
http://www.amazon.com/Industrial-Chocolate-Manufacture-Steve-Becket...

I bet that the cocoa butter crystallization section and the tempering section will be taking into consideration more recent studies from the past 9 years since the last edition. I'm going to have to buy it. Is anyone interested in a copy of the last edition from 1999 that is in very good condition?

Alan
I actually ordered the new one while in the states, and have been waiting very patiently to get it!
Jo,

Sorry for the wait. I just took a look in the Science of Chocolate, and I found the line that you were referring to. It doesn't give any real explanation of exactly how the Beta VI as a product impacts the temper when added to molten chocolate, except to say that it has a positive impact. We know that it is "seeding," but not the mechanism by which the seeding works, and how it is different than seeding with chocolate containing a large percentage of Beta V crystals.

I still have a hard time believing that chocolatiers would want chocolate with a large proportion of Beta VI crystals, which would result in a waxy and slow-to-melt texture. That said, before I comment anymore on the issue, I'd like to receive my copy of the new Industrial Chocolate Manufacture edition where there is sure to be more explanation and science that will clarify the issue, and at the least, should allow us to track down the papers on which such statements are based for further research.

Best,

Alan
Jo,

Well, I just got the new edition.

Pages 306-307 are of interest to this conversation. It seems that chocolate seeded with Beta VI, but cooled quickly enough that Beta V crystals don't have time to migrate to Beta VI crystals--which around 90-91 F apparently takes from 30 minutes to an hour--will lead to a Beta V crystalline structure. So, since we are cooling quickly at much lower temperatures, the idea is that there is very little/no risk of many Beta VI crystals forming, which would result in, as I suspected, "a waxy mouth-feel that is commonly associated with the BVI state.

This is certainly the most information I've ever seen on the issue of seeding with Beta VI. Very interesting.

Best,

Alan
I'm jealous, not only have I not received my copy, which was ordered from amazon a month and a half ago, it will take me another few weeks to get it to Israel.

So I think a summary on beta VI crystals should follow in some forum. If I read you correctly, what you are saying is by using beta VI crystals to temper, applying high shear and sufficient cooling will produce stable V crystals.

It seems that the issue of melt may or may not be related. I've experimented with several different mold dimensions and also the size of pieces eaten to try and pin down texture. Besides, conching, proper tempering,a certain amount of aging, the amount of chewing will also determine the quality of melting. Since VI has a higher melting point I'd imagine the texture to be different (my association with waxy chocolate is compound chocolate from my youth).I 've noticed that my chocolate in the winter is different that it was several months ago. I also was recently told that Hershey's had different formulas for their chocolate based on the seasons as well.

All the best
Jo
holycacao,
Thanks for the link. I hadn't considered what might occur as a result of mixing in the fermented acids into the bar.
I have some Ocumare chocolate that I haven't touched for about 8 months in a glass container + plastic lid and so far it seems to have just gotten "flatter." It just doesn't have the same punch in once had. Maybe I'll give it a go on more of a schedule, set aside some chocolate and taste it on a monthly basis.

Alan,
Great quote. I had been going a similar line of thinking regarding aging and conching (I'm guessing the part of conching which is intended to drive off volatiles and not really so much of fat dispersion/coating and particle shape molding). That aging seemed to be a way to compensate for unwanted flavors caused by an earlier step in the process (acidity / astringency from fermentation). But, it seems that there is more going on.
As for oxidation, it seems then a vacuum packed chocolate may not age as well? What do you store your chocolate in?
Also, thanks for the info regarding re-tempering. The changing of the fat crystals had me wondering whether it was a good thing or bad. So do you recommend to eat chocolate as soon as possible after it has been properly re-tempered?

One other thing that keeps coming to my mind is that the beans are roasted, similar to coffee and other seeds and nuts. With these other roasted products, aging only causes the loss of the desired roast flavor. Does aged chocolate undergo a change in its roast flavor?

What would the difference with ageing and not storing chocolate correctly in airtight bags? wouldnt it age if stored improperly, but within the proper temp and humidity of course.

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