London | Chocoholics rejoice! You may soon be enjoying your favourite sweet treat guilt-free as scientists have found a way to make low-fat chocolate that easily melts in your mouth. Chocolate is divinely delicious, very smooth and unfortunately full of fat. But reducing the fat content of the confection makes it harder and less likely to melt in your mouth, researchers said.
Scientists are studying additives that could reinstate chocolate’s delightful properties in these lower-fat treats. Now, researchers at KU Leuven in Belgium have found that adding limonene could improve lower-fat versions’ texture and ability to melt.
Flavour 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. Previous research has shown that adding limonene a compound found in lemons and oranges results in a smoother, softer chocolate that melts more easily than typical reduced-fat chocolates.
Researchers sought to investigate exactly how limonene impacts chocolate production. They focused on the crystallisation of one of chocolate’s main ingredients, cocoa butter, which undergoes several important transformations at different times and temperatures.
The researchers examined crystallisation at 17 degrees Celsius and 20 degrees Celsius 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 crystallisation at 17 degrees Celsius, but inhibited cocoa butter crystallisation at 20 degrees Celsius. Varied concentrations of limonene also affected the crystallisation 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.