Must Know: The Science of Chocolate

When it comes to chocolate, we all love it so much. The way and manner in which it melts in our mouth. That sweet sensational feeling it gives us when munch it’s silky texture. Even the luxurious feeling of chocolate is another thing to look into when you think chocolate. Chocolates are beautiful, but not all we know is all that that exists about chocolate. When you think about the science of chocolate, there is more to it than meets the eyes.

Whenever we eat chocolate, we always keep asking for more. It almost feels like you never get satisfied with chocolates which are quite amazing. Then you start asking yourself where did all those chocolate I ate go? But the idea is that chocolates are a form of carbohydrates that are quickly absorbed by the body. And as soon as they are absorbed, they give the body a kind of sugar rush, where it almost makes us feel high, but high on sugar this time around.  And as soon as the body finish utilizing the chocolate, it starts craving for more and more.

The science of chocolate is broad, but there is some key knowledge about chocolates, everybody should know. In this article, you would get to understand some science about chocolates, like the tempering of chocolates, the effects of temperature on chocolates, why are chocolates so addictive.

Chocolate Tempering

After the processing of cocoa to produce chocolates, the chocolates can then be shaped in a way to form different shapes of chocolates. Therefore, chocolate is referred to as be polymorph in nature. There are up to six different ways in which chocolates can be crystallized. We have type I to type VI ways of crystallizing chocolate, after melting and cooling, which all depends on the temperature at which the chocolate is being melted and cooled.

Cocoa contains fat which is called the cocoa butter. Cocoa butter comprises fatty acids like oleic fatty acid, palmitic fatty acid, and stearic acid. The fatty acid present in cocoa butter what is responsible for the crystal structure shape of chocolates. Tempering, in chocolate, is the act by which chocolates are being melted and cooled to press the chocolate into different shapes and sizes.

Chocolate manufactures can take advantage of the nature of chocolate to make them in different textures, shapes, and forms. When chocolates are not stored properly, or tempered the right way, the cocoa butter is being separated from the chocolate thereby creating a whitish color of the surface of the chocolate, this process is referred to like the chocolate bloom. Although after a chocolate bloom, it is still safe to eat.

The Effects of Temperature on Chocolates

Like I said earlier on, chocolates are polymorph on nature. And this means that chocolates can take up any shape and form as you may it, as a result of the melting and cooling of chocolates. Most chocolate manufacturers melt and cool the chocolates in other to produce a desired shape or flavor of the chocolate.

The ability of chocolate manufacturers to melt and cool down chocolate to produce just what they want, all depends on the temperature. When you heat the chocolate to a temperature of 63 degrees Fahrenheit, which is the equivalent to 17 degrees Celsius, just before you cool the chocolate, the chocolate would be soft and crumbly, and at the same time melts easily in the mouth. Our of the six types of chocolates being manufactured, this is the type I type of chocolate.

On the other hand, for type IV To V chocolates, the chocolates are heated to a temperature of about 93 degrees Fahrenheit, which is the equivalent to 34 degrees Celsius. As the temperature begins to rise, the crystal structure of the chocolate would begin to melt as the temperature begins to rise. When the temperature gets to the desired level, the chocolate is then cooled. As the chocolate cools down, it forms just the type IV to V Chocolates.

At this stage, the chocolate is reheated, and in return, it gets rid of the type IV crystal chocolate leaving behind just the type V chocolate. When you temper chocolate to a temperature just like in getting rid of type IV crystals is known as hitting the jackpot. 

Why is Chocolate so Addictive?

If you have noticed, every single time you consume chocolate, you get this feeling of satisfaction and not only that, you would always desire more. The truth about the addition of chocolate is that despite how much of it you eat, even though you truly feel satisfied down there, up in your brain, you don’t. It is the brain that causes the addiction to chocolate, not your stomach or heart.

Chocolate contains a compound known as phenylethylamine. As soon as phenylethylamine gets into the body, it works its ways towards the brain to release a neurotransmitter known as dopamine in the brain. What dopamine does is that it helps to control our body reward system. Moreover, dopamine is released by the brain anytime we have a positive experience, such as when we are laughing, or eating, or having sex, they are all instances when dopamine is being released.

Anytime we eat chocolate, we feel happy, and dopamine is being released into the front lobe, hypothalamus, and hippocampus of our brain. The dopamine being released controls our sense of emotions and also our sense of feeling satisfied. Because of the dopamine in our system, we tend to lose our control of feeling satisfied. Just due to the fact that when we eat chocolate, we eat them during a happy moment, so our brain registers chocolate as a positive feeling.

When we eat chocolate, the brain reads it to be a positive experience and releases dopamine into the body. So, dopamine in the brain is what causes the hook on more chocolate. So, it does not matter how much chocolate you eat, you would keep asking for more. The hook is not in your stomach but in your brain.