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Researchers Halve Fat in Chocolate by Replacing It with Fruit Juice

Update Date: Apr 08, 2013 01:24 PM EDT

Chocaholics, rejoice! Though chocolate has already been found to contain health benefits in moderation, researchers have devised a method to halve the fat content in the creamy treat. By replacing the fat in chocolate with fruit juice, water or diet soda, researchers could create a chocolate with 50 percent of the fat as a normal bar - making the treat much less of a guilty indulgence.

According to the BBC, many companies have come out with low-fat versions of chocolate bars. However, the texture and taste of these creations do not match the real thing. That is not supposed to be a problem with these fruit juice-infused chocolate bars, which maintain the mouth feel of the originals.

The secret to the texture of chocolate is a process called emulsion. Emulsion mixes together ingredients, like mayonnaise and water, for example, that would ordinarily not combine. In chocolate, the texture comes from the emulsion of bubbles of fat - which is why a 2-ounce bar of chocolate can contain as much as 13 grams of fat. In order to make sure that the texture remains smooth, the globules replacing the fat would need to be about 30 millionths of a meter in diameter, about half the diameter of a follicle of human hair.

The researchers found their solution when they created armored bubbles. The globules were made of fumed silica, the same material that makes up sand, and chitosan, a compound made from shellfish. However, because many people will likely be averse to eating silica and may have allergies to shellfish, the researchers devised a second method: jellies that can contain liquids like juice.

"Fruit-juice-infused candy tastes like an exciting hybrid between traditional chocolate and a chocolate-juice confectionary," Stefan A. Bon said in a statement. "Since the juice is spread out in the chocolate, it doesn't overpower the taste of the chocolate. We believe that the technology adds an interesting twist to the range of chocolate confectionary products available. The opportunity to replace part of the fat matrix with water-based juice droplets allows for greater flexibility and tailoring of both the overall fat and sugar content."

The substitution can also be made with vodka.

"This approach maintains the things that make chocolate 'chocolatey', but with fruit juice instead of fat," Bon said in a statement. "Now we're hoping the food industry will take the next steps and use the technology to make tasty, lower-fat chocolate bars and other candy."

The technique was published in the Journal of Materials and Chemistry.

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