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Displaying Chocolate Bonbons - refrigerated or ambient temperature?


jhbh2
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Hi all, 
I'm a newbie. 
I'm opening an ice-cream parlour in my town and hope to eventually have handmade chocolate in one section of the shop. 

Because of all the restrictions, I haven't been able to get any chocolatier training (besides what I can scavenge online) so I'm expecting this side of the business to be a next year thing. 

However, the shop itself is opening in July - and I have to make sure it's fully fitted before opening up to customers. This means choosing my display counters now. 
Can anyone advise on how best to display chocolate bonbons?
I know that its best not to refrigerate chocolate, but I'm not sure if this extends to displaying it. 


Whilst I'm here - what's the typical shelf life for a bonbon? 

Thanks in advance ❤️

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Shelf life can be 1 week, 6 months, or anywhere in between, it all depends on formulation and storage temp. 

 

A cold case is fine as long as humidity is low and there is no condensation.

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"The ideal temperature for storage of all chocolate products is 60° to 65°F/15.6° to 18.3°C with 50 to 60 percent humidity."

The Art of The Chocolatier by Ewald Notter

 

"The best temperature for ordinary storage of confections is approximately 15° to 20°C/59° to 68°F."

Chocolates and Confections by Peter Greweling

 

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1 hour ago, jhbh2 said:

Hi all, 
I'm a newbie. 
I'm opening an ice-cream parlour in my town and hope to eventually have handmade chocolate in one section of the shop. 

Because of all the restrictions, I haven't been able to get any chocolatier training (besides what I can scavenge online) so I'm expecting this side of the business to be a next year thing. 

However, the shop itself is opening in July - and I have to make sure it's fully fitted before opening up to customers. This means choosing my display counters now. 
Can anyone advise on how best to display chocolate bonbons?
I know that its best not to refrigerate chocolate, but I'm not sure if this extends to displaying it. 


Whilst I'm here - what's the typical shelf life for a bonbon? 

Thanks in advance ❤️

 

Good luck on your venture.

 

As expensive as it may be, a humidity-controlled case is the way to go (IMHO).  Especially if you decorate the chocolates with colored cocoa butter, they will lose their shine and have a matte look when humidity hits them.  This does not affect the taste but certainly makes them less appealing to the eye (which is, of course, what you want for the sake of sales).  I get around this issue in the shops where my chocolates are sold by, first, insisting they have refrigeration available and, second, by sealing each box in a plastic bag to protect from humidity  (requiring an investment in an impulse sealer and appropriately sized bags).

 

I suggest reading the various threads on shelf life on eGullet and obtaining one of the standard books on chocolate (two are mentioned in the post by Altay.Oro).  It is a very important issue.  If you can afford it, get an Aw (water activity) meter to test each filling.  Otherwise you can get Jean-Pierre Wybauw's Fine Chocolates Gold, where he provides water activity readings for the recipes.  If you don't wish to make either of these (not inexpensive) purchases, you can stick with caramel (and all its variations) and gianduja.   My Aw readings for caramel are in the 0.55 neighborhood, meaning it is predicted to last 15-30 weeks (according to Melissa Coppel).  My reading for hazelnut gianduja is around 0.60 (12-20 weeks according to Coppel, 15-30 weeks according to Wybauw--you can see that Aw readings are an estimate).  When you get into ganache, however, the addition of cream and other perishable ingredients creates a different story altogether.  On the other hand, if you stick with butter ganache, you will have a shelf life comparable to the safe numbers mentioned previously.

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Welcome @jhbh2  Couple of rather huge questions!

 

Started to answer this this morning and realize I didn't finish so I'm sure others have covered a lot. 

 

Shelf life for bonbons varies greatly depending on the available water in the filling - it can be anything from a couple of days for a ganache made with equal parts cream and chocolate to months for some caramels, nut paste based fillings, butter ganaches. 

 

Totally agree on the humidity controlled case if you can afford it.

Edited by Kerry Beal (log)
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Let me as well ask a question,

 

A Google search says that the average relative humidity is 65 % in refrigerators ... and the relative humidities of cream ganaches are above 80 % mostly.

So ... without vacuuming or without wrapping them with something ... wouldn't it be better choice to refrigerate the newly made ganaches while waiting to set ... than holding them at room temperatures overnight?

Would refrigeration have any adverse effect later on the shelf life or on structures, tastes etc. of cream ganaches ... other than drying a little bit?

Edited by Altay.Oro (log)
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8 hours ago, Altay.Oro said:

"The ideal temperature for storage of all chocolate products is 60° to 65°F/15.6° to 18.3°C with 50 to 60 percent humidity."

The Art of The Chocolatier by Ewald Notter

 

"The best temperature for ordinary storage of confections is approximately 15° to 20°C/59° to 68°F."

Chocolates and Confections by Peter Greweling

 

 

it’s been a while since i looked at greweling and i haven’t read notter. i’m curious as to how they came up with these ranges and whether there’s any reasoning given for them. 

 

i can imagine that chocolate stored very cool or frozen will condense moisture on its surface if not properly brought up to temp. similarly, cold can both inhibit flavour release, and for chocolates with a lot of cocoa butter, cause textural issues. 

 

yet to my mind those are not necessarily always going to be reasons not to keep chocolates or bonbons at very cold or frozen temperatures (obviously many in this forum do just that with seemingly few to no ill effects). 

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Trying to find a humidity controlled case (based in UK) with little luck, is there another term I should be using? 
Thank you so much for the helpful answers! 

https://www.caterkwik.co.uk/cgi-bin/trolleyed_public.cgi?action=showprod_GLNCUBE
I can find things like this but there's no mention of humidity
Or fridge cases which are just focusing on temperature.

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  • 1 month later...

Hi there... am a bit late adding to this, sorry.

 

First, best of luck with your venture.. plenty of hard work ahead but hopefully enjoyable too. Agree with the posters above that say a temperature/humidity controlled case is the way to go. They can be expensive though... we were on a tight budget and still had to shell out 6.5k euros. When we were looking around it seems that most display cases in europe are made in Italy. Our case came from https://www.ifi.it/en though we had to order through a local distributor, and took about 6 weeks to arrive because of shipping. We have ours set to maintain the bonbons at 14-18°C and a humidty of 40-60%.

 

P.S. Our case eats electricity nearly as fast as our customers eat our bonbons, so keep an eye on the power consumption numbers 

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  • 1 month later...

Bonbons have been quite popular for me lately & I'd like to add a display case so people can choose their own flavors.

 

What do people think about a regular deli/pastry refrigerated case with PID controller to keep it at 60ish for chocolate diplay?  I have no idea what humidity would be like ... I could find a mini dehumidifier and still save $5k ...

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On 4/10/2021 at 1:55 AM, jimb0 said:

 

it’s been a while since i looked at greweling and i haven’t read notter. i’m curious as to how they came up with these ranges and whether there’s any reasoning given for them. 

 

i can imagine that chocolate stored very cool or frozen will condense moisture on its surface if not properly brought up to temp. similarly, cold can both inhibit flavour release, and for chocolates with a lot of cocoa butter, cause textural issues. 

 

yet to my mind those are not necessarily always going to be reasons not to keep chocolates or bonbons at very cold or frozen temperatures (obviously many in this forum do just that with seemingly few to no ill effects). 

 

From what I gather it's also that the chocolate have the best taste at these temperatures. I don't think that cold is a problem per se, we know that there are companies that freeze their bonbons and thaw them later in the right conditions to prevent sugar bloom and fat bloom which also can occur under temperature fluctuations.

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Hi Pastrygirl,

 

Just for info, our case cost about 6200 euros (7300 dollars) and we have been very happy with it so far. It is designed specifically for chocolate with temperature and humidty control (40-60%). Only slight drawback is that it is quite loud. We got the 1200mm version. We find the humidity control very important as it keeps the bonbons nice and shiny. 

 

https://www.ifi.it/es/drop-in-delice.html

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I'm wondering what's the benefit of having a special chocolate display case? Isn't it better to use that money towards an AC/air-to-air heat pump (I'm not sure if that's the name in the US) to cool the whole space down, get a chocolate/wine fridge and just build/get a display case without cooling? Obviously differs from place to place and what's available, but in general for example for 6-7K, you might get all of the three, instead of just the display case. That way your whole space can be kept around 20C year-round, with humidity in check (obviously big variations geographically here too) and a more personal display case. I think I've seen many US chocolatiers go this route, possibly the most known examples being Elbow Chocolates, andSons etc who I think have cases without any cooling but presumably the whole space instead. 

 

Happy to hear pushback! 

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6 hours ago, EsaK said:

I'm wondering what's the benefit of having a special chocolate display case? Isn't it better to use that money towards an AC/air-to-air heat pump (I'm not sure if that's the name in the US) to cool the whole space down, get a chocolate/wine fridge and just build/get a display case without cooling? Obviously differs from place to place and what's available, but in general for example for 6-7K, you might get all of the three, instead of just the display case. That way your whole space can be kept around 20C year-round, with humidity in check (obviously big variations geographically here too) and a more personal display case. I think I've seen many US chocolatiers go this route, possibly the most known examples being Elbow Chocolates, andSons etc who I think have cases without any cooling but presumably the whole space instead. 

 

Happy to hear pushback! 

Hi EsaK, I considered this option but the long term running costs of keeping the entire room cool with correct humidity 24hrs per day, outweighed the initial cost benefits for me (I am in the Canary Islands though where temperature in Las Palmas rarely goes below 20°C even in winter) Also, I like my bonbons stored and displayed at around 16°C which the AC couldn't handle. I don't "put away" my bonbons into storage overnight, just leave them in the display cabinet with it running but the lights off. I guess everywhere is different though, and what works for me might not be ideal for everyone else. 

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  • 3 months later...

I recently got a refrigerated  display case, and the bonbons look so pretty all lined up, oh boy!  But am having issues with humidity, everything is kind of sticky.  I put my humidity gauge in there and  it hasn't gone below 70% even after adding humidity absorbers.  I also noticed that more droplets are forming on bonbons with less cocoa butter decoration - for example, on this one, the green is still shiny and dry but the plain chocolate is not.  Does this suggest a formulation issue rather than humidity alone, or some combo?  Any ideas/tips?  If water is being drawn through the non-decorated parts of the shell, what can I do beyond way heavier CB decoration?  I can't determine if the 'anti-fog' switch helps or hinders, should less air movement be better or worse for chocolate?
D581AE9B-E3BB-4860-89B3-53E8D6D70C28.thumb.jpeg.c3b2a02ec18f25c35dc8efde92ad1ded.jpeg

 

This does not happen with bonbons kept in my regular fridge in ziplock containers ...

Edited by pastrygirl (log)
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1 hour ago, pastrygirl said:

I recently got a refrigerated  display case, and the bonbons look so pretty all lined up, oh boy!  But am having issues with humidity, everything is kind of sticky.  I put my humidity gauge in there and  it hasn't gone below 70% even after adding humidity absorbers.  I also noticed that more droplets are forming on bonbons with less cocoa butter decoration - for example, on this one, the green is still shiny and dry but the plain chocolate is not.  Does this suggest a formulation issue rather than humidity alone, or some combo?  Any ideas/tips?  If water is being drawn through the non-decorated parts of the shell, what can I do beyond way heavier CB decoration?  I can't determine if the 'anti-fog' switch helps or hinders, should less air movement be better or worse for chocolate?
D581AE9B-E3BB-4860-89B3-53E8D6D70C28.thumb.jpeg.c3b2a02ec18f25c35dc8efde92ad1ded.jpeg

 

This does not happen with bonbons kept in my regular fridge in ziplock containers ...

 

The only solution I can think of is to seal the chocolates in plastic (per your comment on ziplock), but that defeats the purpose of your new case (I gather you are letting customers pick and choose the pieces they want--which is, of course, the ultimate way to sell decorated chocolates).  Is there any way to add a dehumidifier to the case?  If I recall correctly, @Kerry Beal wrote about this issue.  How much more expensive were display cases with humidity control?  I would think a fan would help a bit (though I have no knowledge about this), but I don't think much (aside from a dehumidifier) could counteract 70% humidity.

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6 hours ago, Jim D. said:

 

The only solution I can think of is to seal the chocolates in plastic (per your comment on ziplock), but that defeats the purpose of your new case (I gather you are letting customers pick and choose the pieces they want--which is, of course, the ultimate way to sell decorated chocolates).  Is there any way to add a dehumidifier to the case?  If I recall correctly, @Kerry Beal wrote about this issue.  How much more expensive were display cases with humidity control?  I would think a fan would help a bit (though I have no knowledge about this), but I don't think much (aside from a dehumidifier) could counteract 70% humidity.

 

Yes, the idea is to let people pick and choose their favorites.  I do have a couple of boxed assortments in there that look fine, just the exposed ones look bad.  It's a (relatively) cheap refrigerated bakery case, I figured I could make it work one way or another but now I'm not sure what that way is.  The special chocolate cases are 3x the price, like all the special chocolate things 😜 

 

Edited to add:  current weather is reasonably dry, 72F & 40% humidity in the kitchen, so it shouldn't be because of gross Seattle weather ... and my reach-in fridge is only about 60% humidity, so I think I'll be calling customer service tomorrow to troubleshoot

Edited by pastrygirl (log)
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