Our chocolatecoated wafer biscuits are prone to cracking Why does this happen and how can we avoid the problem

The most likely cause of your problem is the absorption of water by the wafer and its subsequent expansion. We suggest that you look closely at the quality of your enrobing practices because any uncoated areas or even pin-prick holes in the coating provide access points for water from the atmosphere.

The moisture content of wafers is very low in order that they will have a crisp eating quality. The ERH of the wafer is also very low and much lower than the relative humidity of most atmospheric conditions. This means that the natural driving force is for water from the atmosphere to condense on exposed wafer surfaces where it will be absorbed and diffuse through the sheet. As the moisture level rises the wafer will begin to expand and exert so much pressure on the inelastic chocolate coating that the latter will split. Barron (1977) showed that for each 1% increase in moisture, wafer sheets expanded by between 0.33 and 0.42% of the original dimension.

The time taken for the cracks to become manifest will vary according to the completeness of the coating and the initial wafer moisture content. The relative humidity of the surrounding atmosphere will also affect the rate of wafer expansion: the higher the relative humidity, the greater the relative humidity differential and the faster the transfer of moisture. One way to limit this effect is to ensure that the wrapping of the final product is tight and so has a minimum volume of air around the product.

Reference

BARRON, L.F. (1977) The expansion of wafer and its relation to the cracking of chocolate and 'bakers' chocolate' coatings. Journal of Food Technology, 12, 73-84.

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