Chocolate

Healthier chocolate, thanks to electric fields

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Healthier chocolate, thanks to electric fields

Chocolate is one of the world's most popular foods, but because 40% to 60% of it is fat, it’s hardly a guiltless pleasure. Now, scientists have found a way to use electric fields to help confectioners make low-fat chocolate, they write online today in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Manufacturers have traditionally struggled to make low-fat chocolates because reducing the fat level of liquid chocolate below 36% by using less cocoa butter makes it extremely thick and likely to clog machinery. In the new study, researchers remedied this by applying electric current to the liquid chocolate in the direction it needs to flow along the pipes or machinery. This technique, called electrorheology, clumps the solid particles of cocoa floating in the liquid chocolate into chains, allowing them to flow past each other more easily. This allows confectioners to use less fatty cocoa butter while not risking clogging their machinery. The scientists were able to produce chocolate with 10% less fat with no thickening difficulties. The team found that this technique produced lower fat chocolate that still tasted good, with some testers even describing it as better than normal chocolate. There are no immediate plans for commercial use.