Chemists have replaced half the fat in chocolate with fruit juice. (Glenn Koenig )
With Americans consuming more than 1.8 million tons of chocolate annually, it's no wonder many say they lack the willpower to resist the stuff.
But waistline-minded chocoholics can take heart.
Chemists at the University of Warwick in England say they have found a way to replace half the fat in chocolate with mircroscopic droplets of fruit juice. The concoction, according to a report published Monday in the Journal of Materials Chemistry, tastes a little fruity but retains many of the qualities that make chocolate so loved.
Lead author Stefan Bon and colleagues removed much of the cocoa butter and milk fats that normally go into chocolate bars, substituting them with droplets of orange and cranberry juice less than 30 microns in diameter. The juice droplets were infused into three types of chocolate: milk, dark and white.
“Everyone loves chocolate – but unfortunately we all know that many chocolate bars are high in fat,” Bon said in a press release. “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 ou break it with your hand.”
According to Bon, the laboratory chococlate maintained all these qualities, because the crystalline stucture of the remaining fat was preserved. The results can be made to taste less fruity by substituting water and a small amount of ascorbic acid instead of fruit juice, authors said.
The fruit droplets were infused via means called a Pickering emulsion, which prevents the droplets from merging with each other into larger drops.
It remains to be seen whether this new method of chocolate making winds up on grocery store shelves.
“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,” Bon said.