Research out of Temple University shows that a novel approach to food manufacturing could lower the fat percentage of milk chocolate. The researchers say that subjecting milk chocolate to electric currents can lower the fat content by as much as 20 percent.
Apparently, work on this study began in 2012. At the time, researchers were looking to study how electricity can improve chocolate’s viscosity without having to add extra cocoa butter. This of course, would help chocolate hold its shape and taste (because adding cocoa butter changes all the variables, obviously). Of course, the experimentation process led to more inquiries, and the researchers began to ponder if electricity could lower the fat content while keeping chocolate at the same viscosity.
In the United States, this experiment may not appear to be useful because America allows for food manufacturers to develop low-calorie fat substitutes (and other food products that contain them). However, in Canada and Western Europe, these food additives are not allowed. Thus, researchers had to look for unconventional electrorheology (ER) to find a way to make low-fat chocolate that is still natural.
Lead researcher Rongjia Tao explains, “Liquid chocolate is a mix of [cocoa] particles and fat. At a little bit high temperature, about 40 degrees [Celsius]. So put it together –– let it then pass the electrical field, so cocoa particles aggregate. Then viscosity is reduced, so they can go through the production no problem.”
Basically, this process will reduce chocolate’s viscosity to a point it has a lower fat content, but the process will alternately increase the particle density of the material within the chocolate so that it can maintain its shape and connectivity during the manufacturing process.
OK, so this sounds like a good idea, but the true test is the final product. So does the electrically-reduced-fat chocolate still taste like chocolate? Or, at least, does it taste better than the low-calorie “alternative” chocolate on the market today?
Well, the scientists argue that while they will not necessarily advocate this chocolate is “healthier” it does, in fact, have a lower fat content but also still actually tastes like chocolate.
And that is probably all we really need to know.