Have you ever seen white stuff on chocolate that you're pretty sure isn't supposed to be there? Wondering if your treat is still safe to eat? Your concern at this discoloration on a chocolate bar or chocolate chips is completely understandable. After all, no one wants to accidentally eat spoiled food. So, what's the deal here?
Researchers have known for a while that this white stuff on chocolate is actually called a "bloom." There are two types of blooms that can affect your favorite dessert, and neither one of them has anything to do with flowers. The first type is called a fat bloom. This phenomenon is caused by liquid fat such as cocoa butter migrating through the chocolate and crystalizing on the candy's surface, according to the American Association for the Advancement of Science. It happens most often with chocolate that has a porous quality after being made, or chocolate that has been stored in too-cold or too-hot conditions. Psst: Research shows that 64.4 degrees Fahrenheit is the sweet spot when it comes to avoiding this pesky issue.
The second type of bloom on chocolate is called a sugar bloom. This discoloration is caused by separation of crystals of sugar in your treat rather than the liquid fat, according to The American Ceramic Society. Sugar bloom typically happens due to moisture, studies suggest. So in order to prevent sugar bloom on chocolate, it's important to make sure you don't store it in a damp or humid place. Hint: Your fridge can be a surprisingly moist environment, so it's probably not the best place for your treats. A cool, dry space such as the pantry or a cabinet would be a much better option.
It can be a bit tricky at first to tell fat bloom apart from sugar bloom, but some chocolate experts say that sugar bloom tends to look more irregular and gritty, while fat bloom simply looks soft and makes the chocolate appear less glossy.
Either way, you'll be happy to know that both types of blooms are edible, so you can usually eat bloomed chocolate without fear of harming your health. However, it's worth keeping in mind that this chocolate probably won't be the prettiest or tastiest treat you've ever had, so it might not be the best choice to serve a crowd.
There's no way to "fix" chocolate that has already bloomed, but that doesn't mean you have to throw it in the trash if the appearance bothers you. Simply melt the chocolate down in a recipe that calls for baking, such as our 15-minute chocolate chip peanut butter cookies. You'll forget all about that residue once the cookies come out of the oven.