Is it possible to produce a more healthy form of chocolate? A scientific team think so, provided that half of the fat content is replaced with fruit juice.
The scientific study comes from chemists based at the University of Warwick, UK, according to the Times of India. In a trail, the scientists removed around 50% of the cocoa butter and milk fats and replaced them with tiny droplets of fruit juice.
The research brief from the University explains that the tiny droplets were formed to create a special solution known as a ‘Pickering emulsion’, which keeps small droplets apart so that the texture is retained. This was prepared by infusing droplets of orange and cranberry juice. The droplets were very tiny, measuring smaller than 30 micrometers (one-millionth of a meter or about 0.000039 inches).
The fruit droplets were successfully infused into milk, white and dark chocolate. Those who tasted the chocolate reported that it retained a ‘chocolatey mouth-feel’ and was not too dissimilar from the ‘full fat’ equivalent. This related not so much to the removal of fat, but because the special emulsion kept the crystal structure of chocolate intact allowing it to retain a glossy appearance and firm texture.
The research was led by Dr Stefan Bon from the Department of Chemistry at Warwick. The findings were published in August 2012 in the Journal of Material Chemistry.
Dr Bon is quoted by the Future of Things, explaining the motivation behind the research "it’s the fat that gives chocolate all the indulgent sensations that people crave – the silky smooth texture and the way it melts in the mouth but still has a ‘snap’ to it when you break it with your hand. We’ve found a way to maintain all of those things that make chocolate ‘chocolatey’ but with fruit juice instead of fat".
The potential now exists for the food industry to use this new technique to develop tasty ways to use it in chocolate.