Low-fat chocolate has been almost an oxymoron as the delicious confectionery item is too viscous to manufacture without help from the high-fat cocoa butter… until now.
A group of scientists at Temple University in Philadelphia found that perfectly-timed electric shocks applied to liquid chocolate can lower its fat content without altering the taste.
The team has built a device that makes low-fat chocolate through one of the world’s most bizarre methods of producing the mouthwatering food.
Rongjia Tao, senior researcher involved in the project, said that the method is anything like what the industry has so far tried in manufacturing “low-fat” chocolate.
The team explained that chocolate cannot be genuinely low-fat because of the manufacturing process in itself. Liquid chocolate is so dense that it needs cocoa butter to flow more easily through the machinery that processes it.
Other attempts to produce chocolate with a low fat content have failed as cocoa butter substitutes had some ugly side-effects. For instance, Proctor & Gamble’s Olestra was behind several oily anal leakage cases in the 1990s.
But Temple researchers found a way to dodge additives and remove fat content during the manufacturing process through good ol’ electricity. And the new method has a big plus (beside no reported instances of anal leakage): it doesn’t affect in any way the final product’s taste.
The team explained that an electric field reduces the thickness of the liquid by rearranging spherical particles within the product into short chains. As a result, the chocolate will need a lower amount of cocoa butter than its counterparts.
Researchers claim that their method can lower fat content by 10 percent. But with additional tweaks, they could reduce it by 20 percent.
The strange manufacturing method was recently patented by Temple University, which has plans to monetize the it. Tao’s team said that the new method will not require major investments in manufacturing plants. Chocolate manufacturers will only need an extra piece of equipment, Tao added.
What’s more, the procedure is not associated with a high electricity bill, and additionally costs should be offset by savings in cocoa butter, which is a relatively pricey as compared with solid cocoa.
Researchers are also confident that the final product will be just as tasty, if not better. The melt-in-your mouth texture will also be preserved during the zapping process, the team reassured us.
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