To the joy of chocoholics everywhere, a team of chemists at the University of Warwick in Britain have created chocolate with all the smooth creaminess you’re used to, but only half the fat. The secret behind the new and improved bars? Fruit juice.
The scientists removed much of the cocoa butter and milk fats — which are high in triglycerides — that go into chocolate and replaced them with tiny droplets of orange and cranberry juice, each measuring less than 30 microns in diameter. Using a technique called Pickering emulsion, keeps the little droplets from merging together into bigger drops, the scientists infused the juice into milk, dark and white chocolate.
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The process allows the new chocolate to maintain that delectable chocolatey “mouth feel” that is typically imbued by fat. This is because the technique preserves the crystal structure of fat, which is what gives chocolate its glossy appearance, firm texture and melt-in-your-mouth smoothness.
“Everyone loves chocolate, but unfortunately we all know that many chocolate bars are high in fat,” said lead study author Stefan Bon in a press release. “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 trade-off is that the engineered chocolate tastes a little fruity. For a less fruity taste, however, the chemists say water and a small amount of ascorbic acid (vitamin C) can be used instead of juice.
The authors say their research, published in the Journal of Materials Chemistry, should be a launching pad for further endeavors into healthier chocolate. “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,” said Bon.