Scientists are using powerful X-rays to make better chocolate

Have you ever unwrapped a piece of chocolate only to discover that it looked a little old? That white substance that appears on the delicious confection is known as a fat bloom. As the fats in the chocolate crystallize, they form the rather unattractive white stuff. Fret not, though, a group of scientists from Nestlé, Deutsches Elektronen-Synchrotron (DESY) and the Hamburg University of Technology (TUHH) are using extremely powerful X-rays to examine exactly what causes the process. And, of course, searching for a method of avoiding the "defects." With DESY's PETRA III, which happens to be the brightest storage ring X-ray in the world, the team can examine the blooming process as it happens zoomed in to just a few nanometers. This means watching liquid fats (like cocoa butter) migrate to the surface of the chocolate. A number of factors could prevent the unsightly bloom, from storing chocolate below a certain temperature (around 65 degrees) to adjusting how porous the product is so that those migration routes are slowed. While some permanent solutions are still in the works, if you happen to come across of piece of bloom-covered candy, don't worry: it's safe to eat.

[Image credit: EverJean/Flickr]