Chocolate is practically synonymous with indulgence, and people love it. But it is no surprise that there are many people and companies that want to take the indulgence out of it so that we can all eat it with less guilt. Smaller packaging has probably been the most successful method, since chocolate – by law – must contain nothing more than cocoa butter, cocoa solids, sugar, milk, vanilla and an emulsifier (or a combination of those ingredients) and nothing more to be called chocolate.
Some researchers at the University of Warwick in England have developed a process where up to half of the cocoa butter in chocolate is replaced with fruit juice to cut fat and calories. They say that the chocolate still retains its creamy texture, while taking on a slightly fruity flavor from the juice. The juice – which included apple, orange and cranberry – is injected in very tiny droplets to create a stable emulsion with the real chocolate, for a creamy product with the feel of chocolate. It does have a slightly fruity taste, which might be a plus for those interested in flavored chocolate products, though researchers also said that the fruit juice could be replaced by water for a flavorless version.
One other thing that is listed as a plus for this new product is that the researchers say it won’t “bloom” and get a greyish film, even after long storage. Bloom is caused by cocoa butter rising to the surface of chocolate, so it is no surprise that this product wouldn’t be plagued by that, as “mockolate” products made with other vegetable fats do not bloom either. Bloom is one of the things that makes real chocolate easy to identify, along with the “snap” that comes when you break off a piece of well-tempered chocolate, because they are both features of tempered cocoa butter. So, it is unclear whether this new product would produce a chocolate that could actually be used like the real thing, or whether it could only be used for chocolate coatings and fillings in large-scale, commercial products.
If this technology becomes popular, there are definitely candy-makers who will want to try it out to draw in those health-conscious consumers who want to eat chocolate without guilt. But for most of us, the indulgence of a great chocolate is exactly why we love it and I know that I will always stick with the real thing.