Low-fat, melt-in-your-mouth chocolate comes closer to reality


Chocoholics and chocolate lovers rejoice! A team of researchers has brought the tasty version of “guilt-free” chocolate a step closer to us.

Reducing the fat content of chocolate can make it harder and less likely to melt in your mouth. But now, the team has shed light on how adding limonene could improve lower-fat versions’ texture and ability to melt.

Flavor and sweetness make strong contributions to the pleasant experience of eating chocolate, but so do look and feel. Reducing the fat in chocolate, however, often ruins its texture and viscosity.

Annelien Rigolle and colleagues at KU Leuven in Belgium sought to investigate exactly how limonene impacts chocolate production. They focused on one part of this process: the crystallization of one of its main ingredients, cocoa butter, which undergoes several important transformations at different times and temperatures.

The researchers examined crystallization at 63 degree F and 68 degree F using differential scanning calorimetry and X-ray diffraction to examine cocoa butter profiles when limonene was added.

Surprisingly, they found that adding the compound accelerated cocoa butter crystallization at 63 degree F, but inhibited cocoa butter crystallization at 68 degree F. Varied concentrations of limonene also affected the crystallization steps of the cocoa butter differently, so they could ultimately affect the texture of chocolate.

The study suggests that carefully choosing the amount of limonene and the temperature at which chocolate is processed could lead to a smoother, more luxurious reduced-fat chocolate.

The study appears in ACS’ Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

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