Many of us have a favourite type of chocolate – a classic bar of milk chocolate, perhaps a chunky bar of fruit & nut, the rich taste of a 70% cocoa variety, or a mix of flavours such as sea salt and lime, chilli or ginger. Regardless of your preferred flavour, one of the key factors in enjoying chocolate has always been the “mouthfeel” as you pop it in your mouth and feel it melt.
A small piece of chocolate placed on the tongue and allowed to melt of its own accord, with no sucking or chewing, is the best way to combine the pleasures of taste and texture – fine chocolate has a long ‘finish’, like good wine.
Part of the pleasure of consuming chocolate is that it is something which is seen as an occasional treat or reward. Despite the fact that some of the individual ingredients might be good for you, most commercial chocolate products contain high levels of fat and sugar.
Over the years there have been many attempts to reduce fat in chocolate, mostly without success. Chocolate has a specific texture and melting point due to the way in which the fat is held in suspension within the solids of the chocolate bar and most low fat products just couldn’t match the velvety texture of the full fat version.
Chemists at the University of Warwick now claim to have found a way to reduce the fat content of chocolate, by using liquids – including alcohol – to create tiny “sponges” that displace the fat but do not change the all-important “mouthfeel”. They tried this first with fruit juices, but found that they could also use vodka to make “tiny little vodka jellies”. Dr Bon, one of the Warwick team, admits that this is “obviously not very healthy, but exciting”.
And our love of chocolate in the West shows no sign of waning, with new flavours and chocolate products available all the time. It’s also a fun product both to consume and to experiment with, so why not try your hand at coming up with your own innovative chocolate product in our ever-popular Chocolate Challenge team event? We’ll encourage you to play with your food at every stage in this fun team building session that simulates business processes from conception to production and distribution, and yes you can eat as much as you want!