Scientists have discovered why chocolate is so popular as they advise confectioners how to make it healthier while maintaining its beloved texture.
Researchers have decoded the physical processes that occur in the mouth as a bar of chocolate melts from a solid to a smooth emulsion.
They claim that a fatty film surrounds the harder center, helping it coat all parts of the mouth and giving the chocolate its texture so appealing.
Scientists at the University of Leeds hope their findings will lead to the development of healthier luxury chocolate that is better for us while maintaining the taste.
According to the study, the smoothness that develops in our mouths comes from the way the chocolate is lubricated, either from the ingredients in the chocolate itself, from saliva, or a combination of both.
Almost as long as the tongue touches chocolate, fat plays a key role.
Solid cocoa particles are released and they become tactilely significant.
Fat deep in the chocolate can be reduced without affecting the feel or feel of the chocolate.
Anwesha Sarkar, professor of colloids and surfaces at the Leeds School of Food Science and Nutrition, said: “If the chocolate is 5% or 50% fat, it will still form droplets in the mouth and give you the feeling of chocolate.
“However, the location of fat in the chocolate composition is important at every stage of lubrication and has been poorly studied.”
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The study, published in the journal ACS Applied Materials and Interfaces, did not focus on the taste of chocolate, but on touch and texture.
The tests were carried out using luxury brand dark chocolate on an artificial 3D tongue surface designed by the university.
Lead researcher Dr Siavash Soltanahmadi said: “We believe it is possible to develop the next generation of chocolate that offers the feel and feel of high-fat chocolate, while being a healthier option.
“Our research opens the possibility that manufacturers could intelligently engineer dark chocolate to reduce overall fat content.”
The researchers believe that the technique used could also be applied to ice cream, margarine and cheese.