Choosing chocolate for baking: Cocoa powder and chocolate bars are both made from cacao beans, but the cocoa solids in bars are mixed with sugar and cocoa butter so the flavour is less intense. Powder gives a stronger flavour but isn't sweetened, so is only usually used in bakes that already include sugar. Dark chocolate has a higher percentage of cocoa mass and less cocoa butter than milk and white chocolate, which makes it more difficult to scorch or seize. However, milk and white varieties can still be baked and melted – just melt and cool them slowly or watch out for high temperatures when baking.
What is blooming?: A ‘bloom’ is a white powdery coating or grey streaking that forms on the surface of chocolate. This can occur if the chocolate gets damp and the sugar crystallises, or if it gets too warm and the cocoa butter separates. It’s still very edible, just not as attractive to look at! To keep it at its best, follow our top tips on storing chocolate, below.
How to store: Chocolate tastes better and is less likely to bloom at room temperature, so store it in a cool, dry place, away from direct sunlight. Once opened, keep in an airtight container to prevent it picking up other odours.
When you should refrigerate chocolate: Although they may lose a little of their glossy shine, delicate decorations (such as chocolate curls or piped designs) will likely need to be kept chilled to hold their shapes unless the room is very cool. Store in a sealed container so they are protected as much as possible. In other cases when chocolate is mixed with fresh cream or dairy products, as in making ganache or truffles, then this will also need to be kept in the fridge to stop the dairy from spoiling or splitting.