Physicists say they’ve discovered how to zap the fat out of chocolate.
The researchers, led by Rongjia Tao of Temple University, were able to remove up to 20 percent of fat by running liquid milk chocolate through an electrified sieve. And they say the chocolate tastes good, too.
Before they’re foil-wrapped bundles that make chocoholics smile, chocolate bars start out as liquid in a factory: delicious particles of cocoa solids (which give chocolate its characteristic flavor) sugar and mixed solids, suspended in melted fat and oil, mostly cocoa butter (typically, up to 40 percent by volume). The cocoa butter is essential for keeping the liquid chocolate flowing smoothly through factory pipes.
When a consulting firm working for candy giant Mars Inc. reached out to Tao back in 2012, it wanted his help in improving the viscosity of liquid milk chocolate. Tao’s team worked out a method of making the chocolate flow even better than normal through the pipes — without adding any more cocoa butter.
Then the researchers had a Eureka moment: If they could make liquid chocolate flow better without any extra cocoa butter, they could also slash the fat in it — by 10 to 20 percent — and still make it flow well enough not to jam the pipes.
Tao studies smart fluids — liquids whose properties can be transformed by applying an electric field. For example, a smart fluid may thicken rapidly upon receiving an electric shock. Most smart fluids are machine oils, but, curiously, liquid chocolate is also a smart fluid. Read the full report at NPR.