Heat Resistant Chocolate, Part II

If you want liquid chocolate, reach for the cocoa. If you want candy bars that stay solid no matter what, you'll need heat resistant chocolate.

So-called "tropical" heat resistant chocolate used to be almost exclusively military. Lucky for us, real confectioners have recently gotten into the act.

When it comes to producing heat resistant chocolate for our troops to enjoy, the U.S. military is good at breaking things and blowing them up.

Back when the brass hats decided they needed a high-energy bar that soldiers could carry around in their packs, they came up with culinary atrocities like the D ration and the Tropical B bar, which were almost as appetizing as slime mold and as chewy as hardtack. Didn't melt easily, though.

But the need for edible hot-weather chocolate remained great, and finally, folks found ways to create it--while retaining at least most of the rich, creamy flavor that gives chocolate aficionados a reason to live. Otherwise, it tends not to be as sweet as most chocolate, but that's not much of a strike against it.

So what is this chocolate we speak of? Well, it seems there are several kinds.

First of all, although it apparently hasn't been commercialized, we've heard tell of locally produced chocolate in Costa Rica that's made from cocoa nibs ground with pure cane sugar (another local product). Sadly, this form of tropical chocolate remains purely tropical as of this writing. You can't easily get it here.

Another promising development occurred in mid-2006, when Nigerian food scientists created a new hot weather chocolate, made with cornstarch, that actually tastes good--at least according to the reports. The right formulation of cornstarch apparently raises the melting point of chocolate to about 120 ºF.

But this erstwhile product seems to be Missing in Action, as no one's heard much from the Nigerians since 2006. Well, perhaps their secret's the one possessed by French chocolatier Barry Callebaut, which announced its own high-temperature chocolate in late July 2009.

Barry Callebaut ascribes its product's heat resistant qualities to a new "processing step" that spokesmen are reluctant to reveal. Perhaps this processing step is "adding cornstarch." They do admit, however, that the chocolate contains less cocoa butter than normal chocolate.

Whatever the case, the resulting ambrosia is apparently all natural, tastes very good, and will stay firm up to 130 ºF. Yikes, that's pretty much good enough for everything except Death Valley and Falluja!

Varieties currently being tested include dark, milk, white, and even fruity versions. Barry Callebaut expects the new chocolate to be on store shelves by late 2011. That's a bit distressing, we know--but if it's truly good heat resistant chocolate, it's worth the wait, right?