What does chocolate look like under a microscope?

by | Apr 2, 2024 | Chocolate Facts

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Have you ever thought about what chocolate looks like under a microscope? Looking at chocolate up close shows us beautiful patterns and colors we can’t see with the naked eye. It’s a fascinating way to learn more about our favorite treat. Come along as we explore the hidden beauty and secrets of chocolate!

What does chocolate look like under a microscope?

Under a microscope, chocolate doesn’t appear as you might imagine. And how it looks also depends on whether the chocolate is melted or not.  When viewed with a scanning electron microscope, solid chocolate resembles the surface of an alien planet. It has a craggy surface studded with crystals of sugar and fat globules of cocoa butter. These round globules are mixed with what resembles crystals, like diamonds. However, these crystals are actually chunks of sugar, embedded within the cocoa butter. When viewing chocolate under a microscope, you will get a new perspective of chocolate, and maybe see it in a whole new way.

Now, if you put melted chocolate under a microscope, you get a completely different image.  Rather than a craggy landscape, you are able to see all the bits that are normally trapped inside the solid chocolate.  This is because when cocoa butter is melted, it becomes transparent which allows you to see through it.  Chocolate is a suspension, which means there are small particles (sugar, cocoa solids, etc.) suspended or floating in the cocoa butter.  Putting melted chocolate under a microscope allows you to see all these bits and appreciate the components that make up chocolate. 

Check out this video where Johns Hopkins University grad student, Jennifer Dailey, guides students in a chocolate experiment. They heat and cool chocolate to create specific crystal structures, all viewed under an electron microscope!

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