A professor at the University of Guelph hopes to remove the mystery of chocolate making so that people can make good quality chocolate at home.
Alejandro Marangoni says that a major problem in making chocolate is tempering, the art of manipulating cocoa butter to give it the correct shine.
“If you don’t do it carefully, it can lead to disaster,” Marangoni said.
“Maybe you tried to make a good quality chocolate to eat and it ended up looking whitish or too soft, or melted in your hands and not in your mouth.”
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Marangoni wondered whether adding a special ingredient to chocolate could promote the formation of the correct crystal structure without the complex cooling and mixing procedures that chocolatiers often use during tempering.
“Imagine if you could add a component that drives the entire crystallization process to a high-quality finished product,” he said.
“You wouldn’t need sophisticated tempering protocols or industrial machines; you could easily achieve the desired crystalline shape just by adding this component.”
Marangoni’s team turned to the Canadian Light Source in Saskatoon to see if its special ingredient, a specific phospholipid, could power the formations of an ideal chocolate structure.
The CLS beam of light allowed the team to image the interior structure of their dark chocolate, which Marangoni called “beautiful.”
“That was really the first time anyone had imagined chocolate that way, and it provided some incredible views,” Marangoni said.
“(De) determined that the density of the crystals, the density of the fat crystals in the well tempered chocolate, as well as the chocolate that our ingredient contains for comparison, was the same and we had actually achieved that goal.”
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The results could influence the way the chocolate is made.
Marangoni said complex tempering machines would no longer be necessary and that could open up possibilities for smaller manufacturers to produce chocolate.
“I think small and medium chocolatiers will benefit. They don’t have a bottleneck when trying to temper chocolate in two kilogram quantities, one at a time, each time they want to produce a chocolate product, ”he said.
“And maybe for the big guy, this would be like an insurance policy that always gets the right glass formula microstructure.”
Marangoni noted that the research on chocolate pales in comparison to other problems facing the world, but said that food has an impact on everyday life.
“We have more serious problems like climate change and alternative energy and maybe even vegan foods, which we are also working on, but chocolate gives us that psychological pleasure,” he said.
“It is one of these foods that makes us feel happy.”
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