AMA: Ask Me Anything (About Cocoa or Chocolate) #1 – Edible Crystals
Chocolate is a crystal. What other crystals do we eat? Chocolate is mind (and taste bud) blowing eh?
It’s actually not completely accurate to say that chocolate itself is a crystal.
Chocolate contains cocoa butter – the percentage depends on the chocolate recipe – that has crystallized through a process known as tempering. Properly crystallized cocoa butter gives chocolate its characteristic sheen and break.
For an in-depth description of the chemical structure of cocoa butter, tempering, and crystallization, I refer you to Chapter 6, Crystallizing the Fat in Chocolate in Stephen T Beckett’s excellent The Science of Chocolate. [ < Amazon affiliate link.] Anything I write hear would be a summary of the science presented in the book and I think it’s best if you read the science from an expert on the subject. This book is also a must-have in every chocolate makers or confectioners reference library.
If you’re in a hurry to know the skinny, try this article produced by the American Chemical Society on its specialist website The Elements of Chocolate.
Having got that out of the way, what other crystals do people eat?
- Sugar (sucrose) and many sugar substitutes (e.g., xylitol)
- Many forms of sugar candies, e.g., candied citrus peels, candied flowers, fudge, and toffee, among many others
- Butter and margarine (you can even purchase 100% butter fat crystals)
- Ice cream
- Crystallized juices (Lemon Lime Orange Grapefruit from True Citrus on Amazon)
It needs to be pointed out that some of the foods on the list above are crystalline (e.g., salt and sugar) while many others (e.g., ice cream) that like chocolate contain crystals but are not crystals in and of themselves.
What do you think of this answer? Is there anything you think is missing or that needs clarification? Please let me know in the comments.