Physics of chocolate

Julianne Dalcanton writes about the physics of chocolate at the Cosmic Variance blog:

If you try to reharden chocolate that’s been melted (say, in making chocolate covered strawberries), you’re frequently left with a matte finish and crumbly texture that in no way resembles the dark glossy chocolate you began with.

Testify, sister.  I’ve melted bucketloads of chocolate of all kinds, and only by accident have been able to get it to re-harden properly1.

Apparently chocolate can solidify into any of six different forms:

Cocoa butter, one of the dominant ingredients in chocolate, contains several triglycerides that lock into a crystal form when cooled. However, there is not just one form that the triglycerides can lock into, but six of them (β(I) through β(VI)). Each successive form is more stable and has a higher melting point. Almost all commercial chocolate is in the β(V) form — from what I can tell, you only get to sample β(VI) in the afterlife, if you’ve been very, very good.

Huh.  I had no idea.

If someone were to ever write a “physics of food” book, I would be at the front of the line to buy it.

  1. Whereby “properly” I mean “doesn’t look like crap, literally”.
posted 5/1/08 at 3:14pm to Food, Science! · 0 replies · »

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