Aging and Conching

John Hepler
07/23/10 11:11:42AM
I've noticed how, after I make a batch of chocolate, usually very plain-- cacao paste, sugar, added fat-- it gets much better tasting in a week or two. Even when it is well enclosed.
I also think it improves with age over a longer time, the course of a year or so. Am I fooling myself?
Is there any aging point at which good chocolate might go downhill in quality?

I wonder about the relationship between Aging and Concheing, are they related?
I believe the purpose of Concheing is to get rid of any strong, tart, sour, or allegedly obnoxious tastes in the chocolate, most of which represent very healthful polyphenol compounds. [It is possible that not all of these are good for you; or perhaps too much of a good thing may not be good.] Commercial concheing tends to homogenize everything, mellow-in-a-bad way. And less healthful.

I never conche my chocolate, thinking that 18-24 hours in my melangeur is quite enough conche. I like the way it tastes and I like the idea that it retains more of the good stuff. I like tasting it a bit rude, then over time, it improves, greatly.

Is concheing simply losing volatiles by evaporation, into the air? In ageing, since there is far less surface area exposed, or under wraps, or sealed some way-- there must be internal chemical changes. I don't think many volatiles escape, especially if it is solid form. Nor can there be much free oxygen swimming around in chocolate, so it isnt oxidation.
But maybe the volatiles are transformed, stabilized in some way, and in turn stabilize and preserve the chocolate.

J Sandy Hepler