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Clever chemistry cuts the fat in chocolate

A team of chemists at the University of Warwick has discovered a way to cut the fat in chocolate but still maintain its chocolatey characteristics


Coventry, U.K. – A chemist at the University of Warwick has found a way to cut the fat content in chocolate.

Stefan Bon and his team from the Department of Chemistry used tiny droplets of juice – measuring just under 30 microns in diameter – to replace up to 50 per cent of the butter and milk fats that go into chocolate bars.

The chemists infused orange and cranberry juice into milk, dark and white chocolate using what is known as a Pickering emulsion.

Interestingly, the chemistry does not take away the chocolatey mouth-feel that the fats provide.

The reason for this, says Bon, is that the new technique maintains the Polymorph V content, which is the substance in the crystal structure of the fat that gives chocolate its glossy appearance, firm and snappy texture and lets it melt in your mouth.

Bon says the final product will have a fruity taste to it, but manufacturers could use water and a small amount of ascorbic acid (vitamin C) instead of juice to maintain a chocolatey taste.

What about the fat?

It’s hard to think of chocolate without the fat – since it’s the fat that gives chocolate the indulgent sensations consumers crave. But Bon’s team has found a way to maintain all those characteristics with fruit juice instead of fat.

“Our study is just the starting point to healthier chocolate,” says Bon. “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.”

Clever chemistry

The university says 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 that has been stored for too long.

The study, called Quiescent Water-in-Oil Pickering Emulsions as a Route toward Healthier Fruit Juice Infused Chocolate Confectionary, was published in the Journal of Materials Chemistry.

*Pictured above is Stefan Bon with his chocolate creations. Photo from University of Warwick.