Why a Good Chocolate Bar is Like a Diamond

Chocolate Tempering

Have you ever tried to break a piece of chocolate in half only to have it crumble instead of snap (e.g. with those Israeli Mekupelet chocolate sticks)? Apparently there’s a cool scientific reason for this.

I was listening to an interview with Seth Godin today on the Tim Ferris Experiment, and for a few minutes he was speaking about his new obsession with chocolate. After a glowing review of these guys which gave me a serious chocolate craving (which I have unfortunately yet to satisfy), he mentioned a part of the chocolate making process called tempering. I had previously only thought of the word in either metallurgical or metaphorical contexts and so was instantly curious.

Seth described it as a process that “lines up all of the molecules in the chocolate in one direction,” allowing good chocolate to snap instead of crumble when breaking and giving a bit of a sheen to the surface. Chocolate and esoteric science being two of my most favorite things in this world, I couldn’t just leave it at that.

It turns out that cocoa butter molecules can form six different types of crystalline structures. Each one has a different melting point and slightly different physical properties, the most desirable of the bunch being form V. Chocolate is tempered by cooling and reheating to very precise temperatures so as to eliminate all of the crystals with lower melting points leaving only the V’s, which then work as seed crystals for the rest of the chocolate. Once it has fully cooled, a properly tempered bar of chocolate is really a crystalline structure just like a precious gem. But way more delicious.

Is this knowledge useful? Probably not for most people. But I’ll definitely be thinking of little chocolate gemstones and snowflakes next time I snap a bar.

I didn’t want to bore you with the more elaborate details, but for anyone whose curiosity was really piqued here is a nice article that gets into more specifics about how the process is carried out.

P.S. – Why am I writing about random chocolate facts when I’m supposed to be showing all sorts of cool Thailand pictures? Because those posts will be way longer and I’m a bit busy being in said pictures 🙂

Hello Blog!

My name is Avisha NessAiver and I try to live by the following mantra:

My day is incomplete unless I have learned something new and improved myself in some way

And, to head off the inevitable quibbling, I do believe that we are subtly improved by everything we learn. Here I am referring to skills, relationships, and actual personal development.

I have started this blog both to incentivize myself through public accountability and to share my learning, both past and present, with all of you.

I plan on having three types of regular postings:

  1. Daily Learning – I am constantly reading books, perusing articles, and listening to podcasts. Whenever I encounter a tidbit that I consider to be particularly interesting I will try to do a quick writeup about it. These posts should be quick bursts of (hopefully) pleasant mental diversion.
  2. Musings – Often prompted by some life experience or piece of learning, these will be my own thoughts about any aspect of life. Expect widely varying lengths.
  3. Travels – I rarely spend an extended period of time in one place. Here is where I will attempt to document the more interesting portions of my travels. Sometimes these posts will revolve around a particular story, other times they will be more travel-photo-blog style aiming to just give a snapshot of some interesting place that I’m in. Expect a large number of these in the near future as I am about to embark on a 3-week solo-trip to Thailand.

As with everything in life, this type of blogging is a skill, and one that I am definitely a beginner at. My goal is to provide content that always lands somewhere on the spectrum of entertaining <-> educational, and I hope that your honest feedback will help me to quickly figure out what I am doing right and wrong.

With that I shall say, “Hello, welcome to the site, and I hope to see you here on a regular basis!”