Is Expired Chocolate Still Good?

Recently I received a question from a reader wondering if a rather large supply of chocolate, 2 years past expiry, would still be good to use. 

It's a good question.  And it doesn't really matter the quantity of chocolate.  Here's my answer...

The options to use expired chocolate depend on two things.

  1. Flavor
  2. Safety

First, if it is milk chocolate it is probably too late and will taste rancid, like cardboard paper or worse. The dairy milk in there will not last that long and still taste good. The bad flavors will still show through even if you use it in baking or frosting. I would throw it out if it tastes funny. It is still safe to eat, but the off flavor will not be disguised.

If it is dark chocolate, however, you may have some luck. Taste it and it may still be good. Probably the chocolate flavor will be very low in intensity, but still ok. It would be ok to use in baking or frosting, or grate it over ice cream or pastry as decoration. Also, a good idea is to make a syrup or hot fudge. The sweetness will mask any tiny off flavor.

If, however, it doesn't taste good at all, it should not be used. Again, the bad flavor will come through even if baked or cooked.

Now, about safety. If the chocolate has gone through up and down temperature changes, the chocolate may not be safe to eat. Temperature changes can promote bacterial growth, because if the chocolate gets too hot and melts even just a little, then it cools down right after, condensation forms and this provides a bit of water for bacteria and molds to grow. You may not see it, but it could be there.

If you are confident that the temperature has been stable for the two years or so, then it should be safe to eat especially if you melt it for baking or cook it for syrup.

Chances are the chocolate has "bloomed" which is a gray or white film over the surface. There are two kinds of bloom: fat bloom and sugar bloom. If the bloom is greasy to the touch, then it is just cocoa butter that traveled to the surface over time, and it is safe to eat. It will disappear when you melt the chocolate. BUT....if the film is powdery, like dust or flour, then it is from sugar bloom. In this case, some melting and cooling took place that caused condensation to form and water to evaporate, leaving sugar exposed. I would not trust the safety of the chocolate if it has evidence of sugar bloom.

Bryn Kirk

Course Facilitator at Chocolate University Online
Bryn worked for nearly 10 years in a research and product development for Ambrosia Chocolate Company in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. Now she develops all of the CUO lessons and coaches the members of the Primal Chocolate Club.

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