Holding a new, unopened chocolate bar in your hands always produces a glorious feeling. Anticipation will threaten to bubble over as you tenderly begin to unwrap the bar, removing it from its cool exterior. And then you slowly break off the first bite, moving it towards your mouth but just before it lands on your tongue, you may notice that something is not quite right. Your perfect piece of chocolate is covered in a dusting of what can only be described as "white stuff"...
I'm sure that I'm not the only person who has experienced the phenomenon that makes your chocolate bar look somewhat discolored. It tends to either look a bit lighter than usual or has spots on the surface which are lighter and appear to resemble "dust".
If you're anything like me, then the chances are you have never let the peculiar phenomenon deter you from still eating that creamy bar of Cadbury's or that hulk of Hershey's. We still devour every morsel, regardless of the risks it may have for our health.
However, that 'white stuff' is intriguing nonetheless - what exactly is it? Can it harm me? Should I eat it?
Thankfully, it's nothing to worry about - it just means that your chocolate has "bloomed". Whilst the process of "blooming" may sound mighty romantic all it actually means is that your chocolate has undergone a chemical process.
There are two different types of "bloom" when it comes to chocolate making and both cause the weird "white stuff".
The first is "fat bloom". This normally occurs when the cocoa butter fats melt or soften as a result of warm temperatures. When the chocolate begins to cool again, the fats harden and move up to surface level, causing the white streaks and spots.
"Fat bloom" can also be caused if the chocolate is incorrectly tempered. If tempered improperly, an unstable crystallization process occurs and bingo, white marks abound. This tends to be why more expensive, gourmet chocolate doesn't tend to have that pesky "white stuff".
The other type of "bloom" is called a "sugar bloom" and it tends to produce a bumpy, textured appearance. This happens when the chocolate is exposed to humid or moist conditions that cause the sugar within the mixture to separate and crystallize so that once the sweat beads evaporate, sugar grains are left on the surface of the chocolate.
So there you have it: "blooming" aka the "white stuff" on your chocolate is a pretty common thing to experience if you're a fan of the sugary treat. But if you're not a fan of the look of this type of chocolate, you can prevent "blooming" by storing your chocolate in airtight containers at room temperature - not in the refrigerator!
"Bloomed" chocolate is completely safe to eat, but bear in mind that "sugar bloom" chocolate may have a bit of a gritty texture. Either way, I don't really mind - I'll eat any chocolate I can get my greedy mitts on.
There are certainly worse ways to consume the delicious delicacy - I mean, have you ever tried to tackle a bar of chocolate that you left in your hot car? Melted and sticky, it's a sign of sheer desperation when you eat it.