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Oh yum chocolate! Giving chocolate as gifts is a traditional gift that people actually still love! How do you save money on buying chocolate for your family, friends and yourself? It's easy if you do a bit of planning.
Every season has its chocolates, hearts at Valentine's, bunnies at Easter and foil wrapped Santas at Christmas.
Chocolates are outrageously expensive during the season but the day after they're needed they can be found in the clear out bins at 50% off. If they're not sold after 2 weeks you can find them clearing out at 75% off or more!
What most people don't know is that if stored properly solid chocolate that is dark chocolate, milk chocolate or white chocolate can be stored for a full year with no harm to its quality!
So yes you can stock up now and enjoy them a year later!
I have done this for years and never had a problem with the quality of the chocolate when I have stored it properly. That way my kids got the expensive large foil wrapped European Santas in their stockings, large chocolate hearts at Valentine's and some really cool bunnies at Easter but I had always bought them on clear-out the year before!
I also always had chocolate on hand for some spectacular desserts!
Most chocolates are made up of sugar, cocoa butter, whole milk powder, soy lecithin, vanilla, and natural or artificial flavours.
Cocoa butter (which is a natural vegetable fat) is solid at room temperature and it melts at mouth temperature.
Because of this it is very important to store solid chocolate at a cool temperature. Never store chocolate in the refrigerator as this will cause a white or grey "bloom" on the surface. This is a result of the cocoa butter separating and rising to the surface of the chocolate.
Refrigerating chocolate might also make it "sweat" where condensation builds up on the chocolate. While bloomed and sweated chocolate is fine to eat and bake with it will taste a little bit dull and it looks very unattractive so most people will assume there is something wrong with it.
Solid chocolate should ideally be stored in a cool, dry, sealed, odor free area away from any sunlight or heat and where little fingers (and big fingers) can't find it.
It can not be stored anywhere humid because it will bloom or where there are any odors like spices, onions, or cleaning supplies as the chocolate will absorb their odors. Sunlight or heat will of course melt it.
Keep chocolate in its original wrapping and place in a sturdy seal-able plastic container. (If the original wrapping is just foil then place it in a plastic bag that you can seal.)
Don't store anything else other than solid chocolate in this container, such as hard candies, because they might have a high moisture content that could make the chocolate bloom or sweat.
If you are storing your chocolates in a closet, even if they are in a sealed container, make sure there is no odor of moth balls, perfumed sachets or any mustiness.
This storage technique is only good for solid chocolates as filled chocolates in chocolate boxes might have ingredients that will go stale or bad before the chocolate does.
You can store filled chocolates for 2 to 3 months with no harm to their quality, you would have to have them in a separate container and again, follow all the rules of not having anything with odor near them.
That means that chocolate boxes bought after Christmas sales can be kept until Valentine's and chocolate boxes bought after Valentine's can be eaten at Easter!
I have bought boxes of chocolate after Christmas that have been a bit battered and bruised and put on clearance. I also show what you can do when you remove the original red wrap and tatty bow and re-wrapped it with finger painting paper, as the white paper has a great gloss to it and topped it off with a spectacular bow! (see how to make this type of bow HERE). Now it is the perfect gift for Valentine's Day.
Remember that gifts of chocolate are appreciated throughout the year for birthdays and anniversary gifts. While a heart shaped box of chocolates really is only appropriate at Valentine's, chocolate hearts are absolutely appropriate on a cake for an anniversary, bridal shower or engagement party.
You can melt down any solid chocolate to use in your baking as well. I keep my eye out for baking chocolate that goes on sale after the Christmas holidays and sometimes I really luck out.
No one needs to know that the chocolate you melted came from a Christmas or Easter chocolate! An who won't enjoy a tray of chocolate covered strawberries as a hostess gift! (Learn how to make fast and easy chocolate covered strawberries HERE and how to write with chocolate, as shown above, HERE.)
Buying chocolate at 75% off its original cost can be a wonderful savings but only if you actually save the chocolate and not eat it and then have to buy more at full price later on.
Not everyone has the proper conditions in their home year round to store chocolate (or the will power not to eat it) but if you do this is a great money saver for all those great chocolate treats that make holidays special.