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Last year for Valentines day, I decided I was going to be romantic and make some chocolate covered strawberries for someone special. I melted and tempered some milk chocolate. Then dipped the washed and thoroughly dried strawberries into the chocolate and put it on a plate in the refrigerator to quickly "set" the chocolate.

Later that night as my special someone and I was eating the chocolate covered strawberries, we noticed that there were condensation both on the outside and in between the chocolate and strawberry. It was delicious nonetheless but I was curious why it was "sweating" and if there is anything I can do to prevent this if I decide I wanted to be romantic again.

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I'm wondering if the strawberries should be room temperature when dipped. –  Chris Cudmore Feb 7 '12 at 20:49

4 Answers 4

up vote 14 down vote accepted

Very simple: don't store your chocolate in the fridge. The ideal temperature for setting chocolate is 20°C. You can store it at less or more than that, but not too much. Setting in the fridge results in bad chocolate. Remember, when you work with chocolate, exact temperatures are extremely important.

Here a loose translation from a good article on chocolate/couverture coating:

good This is the usual case. You only want a temperature difference of 12° to 13° between the chocolate and its environment as well as between the chocolate and the confect interior.

interior too cold If the interior is colder than the room, the setting will happen "inside out". The cocoa butter film which gives a confect its shine will build on the inside, leaving the outside looking dull.

interior warmer This is a really good case for some types of confect, but you can't do it with most types of filling (definitely not with strawberries). Cooling from the outside gives you a beautiful shine.

later cooling If you want to achieve a good shine, it is possible to put the confects in the fridge for a short time, but only after they have cooled to 20°C at room temperature. Don't let them fall to fridge temperature, take them out at 15°C. The continued cooling from the outside is beneficial.

not enough temperature difference This shouldn't happen. The temperature difference is too small, and the confect doesn't set quick enough. In this case, cocoa butter pools on the surface and creates a yellowish layer after it hardens.

When you make your confect, you should time the first piece. The setting should need 10 minutes. If it is less, you don't get all the possible shine. If it needs more, it will get grey or whitish yellow.

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So if your kitchen is at 10 degrees you're out of luck? –  Peter Taylor Feb 7 '12 at 22:04
    
Looks like it, yes. Chocolate is very finicky when it comes to temperature. Unless you can live with dull, wet chocolate. I know people who don't mind that. –  rumtscho Feb 7 '12 at 22:05
    
Valentine's day is around February which is still winter and it is still pretty cold here so it might be a problem. I guess i can always just make it some other time of the year. Like a picnic at the park during spring. –  Jay Feb 7 '12 at 22:13
    
@Jay, I can't believe your kitchen is (in winter) only 10 degrees C (50 F). –  Mien Apr 9 '13 at 10:18
    
@Mien, I live in a very old house with bad insulation with 4 other college students. If we want to keep the house above 50 degrees, we would need to each pay about $50-$75 more per month(on top of the already expensive gas bill). –  Jay Apr 9 '13 at 22:04

Chocolate will 'sweat' in the fridge if it cools too quickly, particularly if your fridge happens to be quite moist, which can quite often happen especially with lots of uncovered fruit and vegetables. Also if you think that a strawberry is around 90% percent water it is hardly surprising that water forms (possibly from condensation as it goes from a warm to cool temperature) on the strawberry.

The best place to store chocolate is somewhere cool and dry. I keep mine wrapped in foil, in a sandwich bag, in the 'larder'. In any case the best way to store chocolate dipped strawberries according to this website is by keeping them in the fridge then before serving while still cold, whips of the condensation as not to damage the chocolate.

Another website with tips on storing chocolate is http://candy.about.com/od/workingwithchocolate/a/storechocolate.htm.

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Isn't the refrigerator suppose to have very dry air? –  Jay Feb 7 '12 at 21:54
    
@Jay Supposedly but at the back of my fridge you can see beads of condensation running down! –  Sebiddychef Feb 8 '12 at 6:57
1  
@jay The refrigerator is filled with normal air from outside. But at the low temperatures, air can't hold much water vapor, so the humidity from the air in the refrigerator condenses on whatever surfaces there are in the refridgerator, including your chocolate, while the air itself gets drier. –  rumtscho Feb 8 '12 at 23:04

Common Belgian wisdom: if you want to prevent chocolate from "sweating", you need to store it at around 15-19 °C, and certainly never ever store it in a fridge...

I suppose to some degree @rumtscho's explanation might explain why.

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We served these at a fancy restaurant I worked in and we simply didn't cover them in the fridge. Leave them uncovered and they don't sweat.

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I'm not sure that this actually works (someone suggested elsewhere that Jay's strawberries were actually uncovered anyway). Maybe it does with some kinds of chocolate, but in general, it's going to sweat in the fridge, faster than the dry air in the fridge can carry away moisture. –  Jefromi Apr 6 '13 at 22:18

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