What causes chocolate to whiten?

A STAFF REPORT FROM THE STRAIGHT DOPE SCIENCE ADVISORY BOARD

Dear Straight Dope:

As a man in his later 20s, I have been disappointed many, many times in my life. Few events, however, have proven more disappointing that excitedly unwrapping a chocolate bar only to find it covered in that creepy ashen-white film. An internal debate always ensues: "Can I still eat this?" My gut reaction of utter disgust and anger consistently prevails, preventing me from doing so. I have always wondered though: Is it safe to eat? Would it still taste good? And what the hell is that white stuff anyway? A follow-up question: Is the process responsible for turning chocolate white the same one responsible for the whiteification of dog crap? Too many similar variables to be coincidence, don't you think?

Karen replies:

You’re weird.

The whitening on chocolate is called "bloom," and means the chocolate has sat too long or gotten too warm and the cocoa butter has separated and floated to the surface of the chocolate. It’s perfectly harmless. If you don’t like the way it looks, use the chocolate melted in a recipe. The chocolate chips in chocolate chip cookies will lose their bloom during baking, too.

I am pretty sure dog poop does not have cocoa butter in it.

Send questions to Cecil via cecil@straightdope.com.

STAFF REPORTS ARE WRITTEN BY THE STRAIGHT DOPE SCIENCE ADVISORY BOARD, CECIL'S ONLINE AUXILIARY. THOUGH THE SDSAB DOES ITS BEST, THESE COLUMNS ARE EDITED BY ED ZOTTI, NOT CECIL, SO ACCURACYWISE YOU'D BETTER KEEP YOUR FINGERS CROSSED.

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