Researchers at the University of Warwick have found a way to halve the fat content of chocolate without compromising any of the properties people prize in the cocoa-based confectionery. The discovery hinges on the substitution of fat with an unlikely alternative: fruit juice.

Droplets of orange and cranberry juice less than 30 micrometers in diameter were used as a direct substitute for some of the cocoa butter and milk fats that are generally essential in giving chocolate its choclateness. The juice droplets were infused into dark, milk and white chocolate to create what is known as a Pickering emulsion, an emulsion which is resistant to coalescence due to the presence of solid particles. The solid particles in this case were food grade hydrophobic silicates.

The scientists claim that the chocolatey properties aren't compromised thanks to the maintenance of the chocolate's "Polymorph V" structure, which gives it its glossy texture and allows it to melt in a pleasing way.

"Our study is just the starting point to healthier chocolate," said Dr. Stefan Bon, lead author on the paper. "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."

As one might expect, the reduced fat chocolate does have a fruity taste, but the researchers are confident that water with a dash of ascorbic acid (a form of vitamin C) could be used instead of fruit juice to retain a chocolatey taste.

The paper, Quiescent Water-in-Oil Pickering Emulsions as a Route toward Healthier Fruit Juice Infused Chocolate Confectionary, appeared last week in Journal of Materials Chemistry.

Source: University of Warwick