Chemists create chocolate with half the fat

Posted at 1:44 PM, Aug 14, 2012

By Jacque Wilson

(CNN) — Chocoholics have been looking for the answer for years: Chocolate + ? = Cellulite-less thighs.

We just never thought chemists would be the ones to solve the equation.

Researchers in the United Kingdom have managed to cut the amount of fat needed to make chocolate in half, without losing any of the dessert’s delectable-ness. Their trade secrets were published in the Journal of Materials Chemistry this week.

The new chocolate formula contains small droplets of fruit juice, explains lead study author Dr. Stefan Bon. These droplets can replace up to 50% of the triglyceride fats found in cocoa butter and milk, similar to the way air bubbles reduce the density of Aero chocolate bars.

Apparently the optimal size for these bubbles is less than 30 micrometers — allowing the fat to be replaced without losing the proper chemical structure.

“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,” Bon said in a press release. “We’ve found a way to maintain all of those things that make chocolate ‘chocolatey’ but with fruit juice instead of fat.”

Bon and his chemistry colleagues at the University of Warwick used a process called Pickering emulsion to infuse orange juice, cranberry juice and de-carbonated soft drinks into milk, dark and white chocolate.

(Emulsion is the mixing of two liquids that can’t be mixed — like oil and water. Pickering emulsion occurs when solid particles are added to keep the mixture in place, rather than having them separate out naturally.)

While the texture of the new product feels the same as regular chocolate, Bon told CNN in an e-mail, the taste is understandably a bit fruity. In the future scientists could use water with a small amount of vitamin C to replace the fruit juice flavor.

The study is just the first step to healthier chocolate – the food industry still needs to jump on board the fruit juice train.

“The process for introducing the droplets is easy,” Bon wrote. “It would be great if the technology will lead to new innovative chocolate-based products.”

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