redOrbit Staff & Wire Reports – Your Universe Online
Chocolate lovers rejoice — researchers from one UK university have discovered a way to infuse the popular confection with fruit juice, thus reducing its fat content by as much as 50 percent.
Lead researcher Dr. Stefan A. F. Bon of the University of Warwick, who presented his work Sunday as part of the 245th National Meeting & Exposition of the American Chemical Society (ACS) in New Orleans, explained that the technology could also be used with vitamin C water or diet cola.
In addition to replacing up to half of the fat, the juice can help chocolate retain its texture because it is in the form of micro-bubbles. It also prevents the white film known as “sugar bloom,” which coats the candy´s surface after it has spent a specific amount of time on store shelves.
“We have established the chemistry that’s a starting point for healthier chocolate confectionary,” Bon said in a statement. “This approach maintains the things that make chocolate ‘chocolatey’, but with fruit juice instead of fat. Now we’re hoping the food industry will take the next steps and use the technology to make tasty, lower-fat chocolate bars and other candy.”
While chocolate contains antioxidants and bioflavonoids, making it a healthy snack when consumed in moderation, it also tends to be high in fat and sugar, Bon explained. A two-ounce serving of premium quality dark chocolate can contain up to 13 grams of fat, or one-fifth of the total recommended daily allowance for a person on a 2,000 calorie diet. Furthermore, much of that fat content is of the unhealthy saturated variety.
Adding fruit juice or similar substance could reduce not only that fat content, but could also cut the sugar content of the candy. Bon and his colleagues report that the technology works with dark, white and milk chocolate, and that they have successfully created chocolate infused with apple, orange and cranberry juice.
“Fruit-juice-infused candy tastes like an exciting hybrid between traditional chocolate and a chocolate-juice confectionary. Since the juice is spread out in the chocolate, it doesn’t overpower the taste of the chocolate,” Bon explained. “We believe that the technology adds an interesting twist to the range of chocolate confectionary products available. The opportunity to replace part of the fat matrix with water-based juice droplets allows for greater flexibility and tailoring of both the overall fat and sugar content.”
He and his associates used fruit juices and other types of ingredients to form what is known as a Pickering emulsion. This type of emulsion was named in honor of British chemist Percival Spencer Umfreville Pickering, who in 1907 discovered a new way to stabilize combinations of liquids which do not normally blend together.
Chocolate itself is an emulsion of cocoa butter and water or milk combined with cocoa powder, with the fatty substance lecithin used as an emulsifier in the process. By using Pickering´s method, Bon´s team used solid particles instead of that emulsifier, thus eliminating lecithin as an ingredient.