European scientists are sharing a sweet new solution to one of the bitter enemies of chocolate making. “We have developed technical solutions to extend the shelf life of pralines,” explains Lilia Ahrné, Director of Process and Technology Development at SIK, the Swedish Institute for Food and Biotechnology.
She continues: “We have been looking at using microscopic techniques to (study) the structure of chocolate, and we have been using this knowledge to identify solutions that could be used by SMEs (small and medium sized companies).”
Getting the recipe just right to produce the perfect praline is a tricky process.
All kinds of chemical, physical and structural problems can occur inside chocolate, including what is known as fat bloom.
“Fat bloom, is a grey or white veil on top of the pralines; this problem is due to migration of fats from the inside of the praline, from the filling to the surface where they solidify,” Lilia Ahrné says.
She heads a European project called ProPraline to overcome fat bloom.
That scientific knowledge is then passed on to smaller chocolate producers, like Szamos Marcipan in Hungary.
Edina Rosza is an Export Assistant at Szamos Marcipán: “The engineers took samples from our chocolate, and analysed it in the laboratory, so they could give us the values that we should have in our chocolate in order to make really good chocolate.”
After that analysis, Szamos invested in new tools to process their product.
The key to creating a stable praline that will not suffer from fat bloom is careful tempering.
Edina Rosza explains: “Tempering means that you heat chocolate up to 42 degrees, then it has to be cooled down to 27 degrees, and before mixing you heat it up again to 32 degrees. And then when this tempering procedure is done in the right way the chocolate will be shiny and really crunchy.”
Mastering the science of praline production should open up tasty new possibilities, according to Lilia Ahrné: “I think we are going to get new products in the market, because if we understand better how to control this migration we can develop fillings that are much more exotic, with a high water content, fruit taste.”