Chocolate could get healthier as scientists replace half of its fat content with fruit juice.
The fruit juice infused chocolate bar has been developed by chemists from the University of Warwick who were able to remove up to 50% of the cocoa butter and milk fats that normally go into chocolate, and replace them with tiny droplets of juice.
They used food-approved ingredients to create a Pickering emulsion, infusing droplets of orange and cranberry juice measuring fewer than 30 microns in diameter into milk, white and dark chocolate.
The chocolate maintains the chocolatey ‘mouth-feel’ given by the fatty materials because the new technique preserves the all-important Polymorph V content – the substance in the crystal structure of the fat that give the treat its glossy appearance, firm and snappy texture and its melt-in-the-mouth texture.
“Everyone loves chocolate – but unfortunately we all know that many chocolate bars are high in fat,” said Dr Stefan Bon from the Department of Chemistry. “However, 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 those things that make chocolate ‘chocolatey’ but with fruit juice instead of fat.”
The Pickering emulsion process prevents the small droplets from merging with each other, and when in a molten state, the chocolate formulations showed a yield stress which meant the droplets didn’t sink to the bottom. The new process also prevents sugar bloom characteristic of chocolate that has been stored for too long.
Although the final product will taste fruity, there is the option to use water and a small amount of ascorbic acid instead of juice to maintain the chocolatey taste.
Bon said it was now up to the food industry to use this new technique to develop tasty ways to use it in chocolate:
“Our study is just the starting point to healthier chocolate – we’ve established then chemistry behind this new technique, but now we’re hoping the food industry will take our method to make tasty, lower-fat chocolate bars.”