Dec 23 (CNA) – They say there are some things you will never realize about your significant other until you’re married, and by then, it’s too late. For me, it was discovering that my husband stores chocolate in the fridge.
My husband is a perfectly sensible man in most aspects of life. He drives within the speed limit, knows the difference between Maldon salt and fleur de sel, and has a life insurance plan. But, when I saw him chuck his jumbo bar of Cadbury Fruit & Nut in the refrigerator, it occurred to me that I had married a social deviant in the same category as flat earthers, TikTokers who prank their toddlers for views, and people responsible for naming condominium developments.
Naturally, I tried to appeal to his sense of logic. “Don’t you find that refrigerating a chocolate bar affects not only its texture but also its taste, throwing the sweetness out of balance and muting the cocoa flavour? Wouldn’t it be more ideal to store it in a cool, dry place, maybe in a corner of the living room, away from a window?” I suggested.
His measured, intellectual response was to stick his tongue out and make a farty sound.
I dismissed him as an obtuse outlier bent on being a rebellious chocolate Philistine. But then, I discovered that most of my colleagues store their chocolate in the fridge, too.
“Where else are you supposed to store it?” one said, blankly, as others murmured that they, too, were habitual chocolate refrigerators.
In the face of peer pressure, I started to wonder if perhaps, as Taylor Swift so eloquently expressed, “It’s me. I’m the problem, it’s me”.
Meanwhile, another colleague demanded, “Are you supposed to lick it up off the counter after it melts?” in a tone that Greta Thunberg would be proud of.
I knew, of course, that my colleague had a very valid point: In our tropical climate, you take your chances when you leave your precious Christmas candy stash out on the kitchen table. And I knew that certain delicate bonbon-type confections required the icebox treatment. But, I also knew, deep in my heart of hearts, that cracking a piece off a block of frozen chocolate with your teeth and having it splinter tastelessly in your mouth with every crunch is no way to live your best life.
By now, I was overly invested in the topic, so, being the intrepid journalist that I am, I turned to someone who knows a thing or two about chocolate: Jerome Penafort, CEO and founder of Mr Bucket Chocolaterie.
The homegrown brand, which works with cacao sustainably sourced within Asia, just opened a new “chocolate factory” at Dempsey, complete with Singapore’s first ever build-your-own chocolate slab station; a bean-to-bar counter where you can watch chocolates being made from scratch; a dispensary where customers can fill their own reusable containers with treats; baked goods and tasting sets; and indoor and outdoor dining.
What exactly is the right way to store my chocolate in Singapore’s hot, humid climate? Should I or should I not be putting it in the fridge? I asked Penafort.
His answer came: “Chocolate is best enjoyed at room temperature, between 22 and 25 degrees Celsius. This is when it will easily melt on your tongue, so you can best enjoy the chocolate’s complex flavours, textures and nuances,” he said.
Then came the part of crucial importance. “As much as possible, avoid storing it in the fridge or the freezer as it may get too cold – this affects the chocolate’s flavour, tempered sheen and even texture.”
Letting it come back up to room temperature before you eat it isn’t a good solution, either. “When chocolate thaws too quickly, condensation occurs, and this affects the chocolate’s quality, too,” he said.
I was vindicated. The fridge is good enough for eggs, milk and leftover palak paneer. But, it is categorically no place for chocolate.
Where, then, should our chocolate live?
Besides the obvious, “a cool, dry place where it will not melt”, Penafort said, “I personally recommend storing your chocolate in a wine chiller”. That’s an environment between 12 to 15 degrees Celsius.
And, of course, if what you’ve got are handcrafted bonbons with ganache or cream fillings, like the double soy sauce caramel, calamansi or mala ones that Mr Bucket offers, then the fridge is your friend, not your enemy – although, in my experience, those never last long enough for storage to be an issue, anyway.
So, there you have it. I’m off to do my “I told you so” dance in front of my husband – and maybe save up for a wine chiller or two, while I’m at it.