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Cracking the science of chocolate, and halving its fat content

Dark chocolate

There’s a very good pretext for yet another delicious picture of chocolate to appear on this site.  This time it is research from the University of Warwick that holds out the prospect of halving the fat content of chocolate without losing that velvety texture that is part of its appeal.  There is low fat chocolate already, but it is shunned by most chocolate-lovers because it has neither the taste not the ‘mouthfeel’ of the real thing.  Dr Stefan Bon of the research team has outlined the problem.

Normal chocolate gets much of its velvety feel from an emulsion of fat globules suspended within the solid.  Replacing those is tricky – any substitutes have to remain dispersed throughout the chocolate as it is heated and cooled to a solid, and they have to remain small.  Dr Bon said that the smooth texture of chocolate requires that the globules be smaller than about 30 millionths of a metre across – about half the width of a human hair.

The Warwick team have worked out how to create suitable emulsions using ‘armoured spheres’ of liquids such as fruit juices.  They are now working on a method that will use alcohol instead, using tiny ‘vodka jellies’ to create the same smooth feel in the mouth as the chocolate melts.  Vodka chocolate?  There could be a niche market for that.

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