Half fat chocolate can retain taste, mouthfeel14 August 2012
A method for making chocolate with 50% less fat, yet retaining its taste and mouthfeel, has been developed by researchers at the University of Warwick in the UK.
The process replaces the fat found in cocoa butter and milk fats with tiny droplets of fruit juice measuring under 30 microns in diameter, infusing orange and cranberry juice into milk, white and dark chocolate using what is known as a Pickering emulsion.
The mouthfeel given by the fatty ingredients is retained, said the researchers, because the new technique maintains the prized Polymorph V content, the substance in the crystal structure of the fat which gives chocolate its glossy appearance, firm and snappy texture but which also allows it to melt smoothly in the mouth.
The final product will taste fruity - but there is the option to use water and a small amount of ascorbic acid (vitamin C) instead of juice to maintain a chocolatey taste.
“Our study is just the starting point to healthier chocolate,” said Dr Stefan Bon from the Department of Chemistry at the University of Warwick. “We’ve established the chemistry behind this new technique but now we’re hoping the food industry will take our method to make tasty, lower-fat chocolate bars.”
The scientists used food-approved ingredients to create a Pickering emulsion, which prevents the small droplets from merging with each other.
Moreover, their chocolate formulations in the molten state showed a yield stress which meant that they could prevent the droplets from sinking to the bottom.
The new process also prevents the unsightly ‘sugar bloom’ which can appear on chocolate which has been stored for too long.
In a separate announcement, it was reported by scientists from the University of L’Aquila in Italy that cocoa flavanols could help improve cognitive function, delaying or preventing the onset of dementia and Alzheimer’s disease.
90 elderly people with mild cognitive impairment were given varying strengths of a cocoa drink over a period of eight weeks. After the tests, many were found to respond better to visual stimuli and have improved memory. The improvement was particularly marked in those who had been given the higher strength drink.
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