Low-fat chocolate by electricity?

Electric field eliminates processing issues and improves the taste

In the future, electricity could help to make chocolate less fat. © Yuri STaikov / freeimages
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Tasty and low-fat: US researchers have developed a surprisingly simple way to produce low-fat chocolate. By passing the liquid chocolate through an electric field, its microstructure changes and its flowability increases. This can reduce the fat content by 20 percent without any problems during processing. And the new lean chocolate should also taste particularly good, as the scientists emphasize.

Chocolate is one of the most popular sweets ever, whether as a blackboard, praline or ice cream. And even healthy is the aromatic cocoa product: Dark chocolate is said to inhibit stress, make you happy and even promote vascular health. Unfortunately, chocolate is also a fad: After all, the brown enamel contains about 40 percent fat, and even more with chocolate fritters.

For a long time, food chemists have been tinkering with recipes that make it easier to reduce the fat content of the chocolate - while still retaining its melting properties. In 2012, for example, researchers developed the prototype of a semi-fat chocolate, in which tiny droplets of fruit juice replace part of the fat - a relatively complex process.

Constipation with too little fat

On the other hand, the method developed by Rongjia Tao and his colleagues from Temple University in Philadelphia is astonishingly simple. Because with them the omission of cocoa butter and an electric field suffice. This reduces the fat content of chocolate by 10 to 20 percent without any problems during processing.

"Normally, the fat content must not fall below 36 percent, because otherwise the melt falters, " explain the researchers. "Then the chocolate clogs the pipes and production becomes impossible." Because the cocoa butter acts as a lubricant, which keeps the emulsion of solid and molten ingredients flowing. The threat of constipation in low-fat chocolate can be prevented, as Tao and his colleagues now demonstrate. display

The electric field causes the cocoa and sugar particles to assemble into elongated structures. Tao et al. / PNAS

Rearrangements in the chocolate melt

For their experiment, the researchers conducted melted chocolate through an electric field that showed the field lines in the direction of flow of the melt. This causes the normally near globular particles in the emulsion to assemble into permanent shapes. This reduces the density of the individual particles and, as a result, the fluidity increases, as the scientists explain.

"By applying the electric field, we were able to reduce the viscosity of various types of chocolate by 40 to 50 percent, " says Tao and his colleagues. But this means that the fat content of this chocolate can be reduced by ten to 20 percent, without a blockage threatens. In their tests, the researchers tried this with chocolate from Mars, Hershey and Blommer from and it worked.

"Healthy and tasteful"

"We expect a whole new class of sweeter and fatter chocolates soon, " say the scientists. "Our method is universal and can be used with any type of chocolate." In addition, the "yield" is likely to be even better if you vary the electric field.

Also important: the new low-fat chocolate still tastes delicious. "The chocolate treated with the electric field has a wonderful taste, " emphasize the researchers. "Some even say that it has a slightly more intense cocoa flavor than regular chocolate." In the future, there could not only be sweeter, but also tastier chocolate varieties. (Proceedings of the National Academy of Science, s, 2016; doi: 10.1073 / pnas.1605416113)

(PNAS, 21.06.2016 - NPO)