How well do you understand chocolate?

Charlotte Levy provides an overview of the hydrophobic properties of chocolate and why understanding its science can help avoid undesired product spoilage.

The fruit of the cocoa tree undergoes heavy refinement and processing before being formed into the smooth and sweet chocolate that consumers recognise. From the tree, you obtain cocoa pods, inside of which are beans that comprise cotyledons (cocoa nibs). These nibs are ground into a thick paste, releasing the cocoa butter, which accounts for over half of the nib’s weight.1 Mixed with the remaining solid part of the nib (known as cocoa solids), the heat generated from the friction of grinding softens the cocoa butter. The paste then undergoes a refining process prior to conching, which reduces the particle size of the cocoa solids and includes the addition of ingredients such as sugar, milk powder and more cocoa butter. Emulsifiers are added towards the end of the conching process.2