How to keep your nomnoms from melting
July 10, 2013 1:22 AM   Subscribe

How do I keep my fancy French chocolates from melting? I am flying overseas, have a night at home, then driving all day the next day. I am hand-delivering them to the recipient and I don't want to hand over a gooey mess.

The transport is as follows: overseas flight from France to the east coast. I'll be at home overnight (Philly), then drive ~7 hours south, stay overnight at a motel, and drive a couple more hours in the morning. It is important to me that the chocolates retain as much "I'm eating French chocolates" flavor as possible, as well as stay firm and pretty-looking.

For the plane:
a) Should I freeze them, refrigerate them, or leave them at room temperature?
b) Should I carry them on or put them in my luggage?
I've read that cargo holds stay cool, so I'm leaning towards refrigerating them and wrapping them up in the center of my suitcase.

For the car, I can bring a cooler or insulated bag. Assume I can get whatever I need (within reason, costwise) to keep these things looking purty, and there will be a mini-fridge at the motel.
posted by DoubleLune to Food & Drink (8 answers total)
Good points about Chocolate storage in general here:

It seems that the thing to watch out for is abrupt temperature changes. Talking short-term storage, in practice, chocolate goes gradually more funny in the temperature range above c. 60°F; but if you're transporting pralines with butter involved, you would need to be more careful.

In my experience, you'll be fine if you, as you say, keep them non-too-squished-down in the check-in baggage. We've transported tons of fine chocolate that way.
At home, before the car trip: just keep them cool, like, in the insulator bag; it may even be too cold in the fridge. According to the article above, freezing is also not a good idea.
For the trip, a cooler bag seems fine. If the motel room is air conditioned, don't worry about the mini fridge.
posted by Namlit at 1:47 AM on July 10, 2013

It depends on what kind of chocolate you buy. Anything with any kind of filling is likely to be considered a 'gel or liquid' so you won't want it in your check in, it will be confiscated. Also anything with a fresh cream filling is designed to be eaten that day and may go off if not stored correctly. Solid chocolates, however, will avoid those problems and be a lot more robust in general.

How hot they get will partially depend on where you're flying. Cargo is often pretty cold, but if you're stopping somewhere hot along the way it can get hot for a while too (basically, it's not temperature regulated). Whereas the inside of the plane is warmer but also more uniform. Carry on has a bit more control over things being squashed, but only if you put it under your seat and keep your feet away from it (overhead bins are generally crammed full these days) which will depend on how long your legs are etc.

I've eaten solid chocolate flown from Switzerland to NZ in checked luggage, including a lost luggage incident where it spend an extra day somewhere along the way then driven via unairconditioned cargo van for a day to reach me and it was fine. So if you get solid chocolate in some kind of box for protection, you're probably going to be fine regardless.

Then yeah, at home keep them cool rather than really cold. They may sweat if you put them in the fridge. Then same goes for the travelling, a good cooler bag will help you out. Pre-cool the bag in the freezer if you think that will help.
posted by shelleycat at 2:08 AM on July 10, 2013

Anything with any kind of filling is likely to be considered a 'gel or liquid' so you won't want it in your check in, it will be confiscated.

I am reasonably certain that this is not true -- do you have any source that this actually happens?
posted by empath at 2:40 AM on July 10, 2013

I'm basing it on the things in my luggage that are considered such, eg a pot of eyeshadow is considered a 'gel' and is picked out on the x-ray so a runny cream centre is totally going to do the same. The rules will probably vary by place and who is working at the time, but they're really stubborn about it when they decide to be (CDG, for example, is not known as a 'friendly' airport).

Personally, I wouldn't take the risk given those chocolates aren't going to be great to eat after several days travelling anyway.
posted by shelleycat at 2:48 AM on July 10, 2013

(And note: by eyeshadow I'm not referring to the liquid stuff but pressed powder. Solid lip gloss is a 'gel', so is firm honey. Whereas a lot of chocolate fillings really are literally gels of some sort. I have forgotten something soft but not liquid in my luggage and had it picked up by x-ray within the last year, they're really crazy about it.)
posted by shelleycat at 2:55 AM on July 10, 2013

Well, a quick google search finds a lot of people who haven't had problems, and none who have.
posted by empath at 2:56 AM on July 10, 2013

That was a year ago. The rules changed in a lot of places earlier this year (Jan/Feb) making things a lot tighter. My experience with similarly textured products is much more recent, including having to check my bag in Dublin and Copenhagen two weeks ago because of the increased strictness of these rules. Maybe France isn't one of the places, in which case good, but if nothing else it is something that needs to be made sure of before trying it.

Given fresh cream fillings are going to be gross and chocolate in general is going to be better in a checked bag, it seems a bit moot.
posted by shelleycat at 3:10 AM on July 10, 2013 [1 favorite]

In my former life I worked in a chocolate shop.
What type of chocolate?
We always recommended that people not put them in the fridge. If you have any other food in there they can absorb the odor and change the flavor. Also, as someone mentioned, they will sweat because there is more moisture in the fridge. The have the potential to bloom when they return to room temp- that chalky white appearance- because the cocoa butter rises to the surface. That won't affect the flavor, they just won't look pretty.
If you have ones with fresh cream, those are indeed meant to be eaten same day. If you have the cocoa dusted melt in your mouth pure ganache truffles, you might be screwed. Those little buggers start melting the second they feel any heat what so ever, like from the store to the car.
If you have solid bars or filled pieces (shelf stable cream, caramel, ganache, gel, etc.) you could freeze them overnight and store them in a cooler bag that you have also frozen. If you choose to put an ice pack in there wrap the ice pack in paper towels and put it in a zip lock back. The point is to keep as much moisture away from the chocolate as possible to prevent blooming. I would put them in my carry on so I would know they aren't sitting on the hot tarmac while waiting to be loaded/ unloaded.
posted by MayNicholas at 5:31 AM on July 10, 2013 [4 favorites]

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