The engineering behind your Valentine's chocolate
Did you know the first time chocolate was eaten in solid form was 1840? Prior to this, chocolate was only consumed as a beverage. The first pressed chocolate tablets, pastilles and figures were created by chemists in Belgium by the chocolate company Berwaerts.
Fast forward over 150 years and our researchers at the Centre for Formulation Engineering
are ensuring chocolate looks appealing, melts in the mouth, and is even lower in fat, sugar and salt.
Lower in fat, sugar and salt
Researchers are designing foods which deliver ‘unhealthy’ functionality whilst being significantly healthier than current convenience products, including chocolate. Research focuses on understanding and manipulating the microstructure of foods to engineer products that deliver the desired consumer attributes, but with a dramatic reduction in the amounts of fat, sugar, and salt consumed in the diet.
Melt in your mouth
Researchers have previously worked with Mondelez to develop the solidification of chocolate in moulds and manufacture chocolate so that it melts in the mouth. As chocolate reaches a desired temperature, it is then cooled, and as it cools, it forms crystals characteristics. Chocolate, once solidified, is firm, snaps easily and melts at body temperature. As chocolate melts in your mouth, having been properly tempered with precision, the chocolate disperses, releasing its flavour.
As chocolate is heated and cooled (a process called tempering), researchers are able to manipulate the crystal structure of solid chocolate - creating its desirable form and glossy finish.
Emulsions to re-engineer chocolate
Researchers have also built models of fat crystallisation and are currently investigating the use of emulsions to re-engineer chocolate without impacting on consumer perception. For instance, the group have shown that by changing the size of droplets within an emulsion (whilst keeping the ingredients the same) it can impact upon sensory attributes such as creaminess, which could also make people feel fuller for longer.