Thursday, March 4, 2010

Form V

Now that you understand the process of making chocolate after reading this post, I’ll help you understand the name of my business: Form V Artisan. I find that I'm always fighting against Form V (five). Form V is the fat crystal structure in chocolate that produces the glossy sheen and crisp snap of high quality, melt-in-your-mouth chocolate. Cocoa butter contains 6 different fat crystal structures and chocolate manufacturers practice special mixing techniques that last for days in order to ensure the development of form V crystals and produce smooth, creamy chocolate. If you've ever seen a white film on the surface of chocolate (chocolate bloom), this is likely a result of cocoa butter that has converted into form VI (six) crystals, which scatter light and appear white. Most of the time this is due to:

1. Age - over time, cocoa fat crystals will slowly convert to form VI
2. Improper Storage - temperature fluctuations will cause cocoa butter to melt and recrystallize in an uncontrolled manner

Learning to achieve form V through tempering techniques is an art. Most chocolate shops have machines that do it for them through a series of heating and cooling stages. Frankly, I don’t blame them since it is very difficult to accomplish a perfect temper under sometimes unpredictable ambient conditions. So, next time you’re at a party and the host is serving chocolates, you can impress them with your knowledge of cocoa fat crystal structure. That’s good conversation….right?
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