Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Structure of chocolate unravelled by synchrotron radiation

17.09.2004


The white-grayish film is a sign of fat bloom in chocolate bars.


Think about a piece of chocolate. Imagine it melting in your mouth. The sensation is delicious. Now think of the same image, but this time the chocolate is covered by a white film on its surface. This white film is produced when chocolate is poorly crystallised or when it is stored under the wrong conditions. We ’eat’ also with our eyes, so such bad-looking chocolate seems less nice to the palate. Here is where scientists come into the picture. Researchers from The Netherlands working at the ESRF try to avoid this white layer, called fat bloom, by studying the structure of chocolate. Their aim is to optimise the pleasure of eating it. They publish this week in the Journal of Physical Chemistry B the structure of a component of cocoa butter and also the crystal structure of the most common form of cocoa butter in chocolate, a result that is of great importance for chocolate production. The ESRF synchrotron light was essential for this research.

There is a lot of science in the process of making chocolate. Dark and bitter sweet chocolate contain from 31 to 38% of cocoa-butter, 16 to 32% of cocoa powder and 30 to 50% of sugar. Cocoa butter determines the physical properties of the chocolate. It has a high degree of crystallinity and may crystallise in six different crystalline forms in the course of the production process. This process includes tempering, which consists of repeatedly heating the chocolate to a specific temperature and then cooling it down. It aims to bring the cocoa butter in one of the most stable crystal forms. The different crystalline phases are numbered from phase I to the most stable phase VI. The lower-numbered phases are unstable and do not give a good product, but manufacturers nowadays manage to set the chocolate in phase V. Nevertheless, even this chocolate phase can suffer from phase transition during storage, resulting in fat bloom. This explains the importance of crystallising the chocolate properly.

A team of scientists from the University of Amsterdam, with help of the ESRF, has made a major step forward by identifying for the first time the crystal structure of one of the three main triglycerides that make up chocolate butter. The triglyceride, called SOS, is a cis-mono-unsaturated type and represents one quarter of the chocolate butter. This breakthrough helps in better understanding the melting behaviour of cocoa butter and better controlling the production process. According to Dr. René Peschar, first author of the paper, “This work is expected to be highly relevant to confectionery research and industry and the first step to a better understanding of the mechanism of the fat bloom phenomenon at the molecular level.”



The researchers used the synchrotron light to collect data from which they determined this structure using the X-ray powder diffraction technique. They also stored completely molten cocoa butter at room temperature (around 22°C) for several weeks to get the phase V. Then they studied it at the ESRF with the same technique and managed to construct a crystal structure model of this cocoa butter phase V. “It is impossible to get these results with laboratory data; you really need a synchrotron facility because of its superior data quality”, explains Dr. Peschar, from the University of Amsterdam.

The chocolate research based on data measured at the ESRF has also had impact on industry. The Dutch machine manufacturing company ’Machinefabriek P.M. Duyvis’ acquired a patent concerning an improved method of making chocolate that is based on the results of experiments carried out by the Dutch researchers at the ESRF over the last few years. The company built a prototype, tested and fine-tuned it together with the University of Amsterdam and a major European chocolate producer. The company is situated in the middle of the "Zaanstreek", a region hallmarked by a huge diversity of foodstuff manufacturers and processing more than 20% of the world’s cocoa bean crop.

Montserrat Capellas | alfa
Further information:
http://www.esrf.fr

More articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science:

nachricht Light green plants save nitrogen without sacrificing photosynthetic efficiency
21.11.2017 | Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

nachricht Filling intercropping info gap
16.11.2017 | American Society of Agronomy

All articles from Agricultural and Forestry Science >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Frictional Heat Powers Hydrothermal Activity on Enceladus

Computer simulation shows how the icy moon heats water in a porous rock core

Heat from the friction of rocks caused by tidal forces could be the “engine” for the hydrothermal activity on Saturn's moon Enceladus. This presupposes that...

Im Focus: Nanoparticles help with malaria diagnosis – new rapid test in development

The WHO reports an estimated 429,000 malaria deaths each year. The disease mostly affects tropical and subtropical regions and in particular the African continent. The Fraunhofer Institute for Silicate Research ISC teamed up with the Fraunhofer Institute for Molecular Biology and Applied Ecology IME and the Institute of Tropical Medicine at the University of Tübingen for a new test method to detect malaria parasites in blood. The idea of the research project “NanoFRET” is to develop a highly sensitive and reliable rapid diagnostic test so that patient treatment can begin as early as possible.

Malaria is caused by parasites transmitted by mosquito bite. The most dangerous form of malaria is malaria tropica. Left untreated, it is fatal in most cases....

Im Focus: A “cosmic snake” reveals the structure of remote galaxies

The formation of stars in distant galaxies is still largely unexplored. For the first time, astron-omers at the University of Geneva have now been able to closely observe a star system six billion light-years away. In doing so, they are confirming earlier simulations made by the University of Zurich. One special effect is made possible by the multiple reflections of images that run through the cosmos like a snake.

Today, astronomers have a pretty accurate idea of how stars were formed in the recent cosmic past. But do these laws also apply to older galaxies? For around a...

Im Focus: Visual intelligence is not the same as IQ

Just because someone is smart and well-motivated doesn't mean he or she can learn the visual skills needed to excel at tasks like matching fingerprints, interpreting medical X-rays, keeping track of aircraft on radar displays or forensic face matching.

That is the implication of a new study which shows for the first time that there is a broad range of differences in people's visual ability and that these...

Im Focus: Novel Nano-CT device creates high-resolution 3D-X-rays of tiny velvet worm legs

Computer Tomography (CT) is a standard procedure in hospitals, but so far, the technology has not been suitable for imaging extremely small objects. In PNAS, a team from the Technical University of Munich (TUM) describes a Nano-CT device that creates three-dimensional x-ray images at resolutions up to 100 nanometers. The first test application: Together with colleagues from the University of Kassel and Helmholtz-Zentrum Geesthacht the researchers analyzed the locomotory system of a velvet worm.

During a CT analysis, the object under investigation is x-rayed and a detector measures the respective amount of radiation absorbed from various angles....

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

Ecology Across Borders: International conference brings together 1,500 ecologists

15.11.2017 | Event News

Road into laboratory: Users discuss biaxial fatigue-testing for car and truck wheel

15.11.2017 | Event News

#Berlin5GWeek: The right network for Industry 4.0

30.10.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

Underwater acoustic localization of marine mammals and vehicles

23.11.2017 | Information Technology

Enhancing the quantum sensing capabilities of diamond

23.11.2017 | Physics and Astronomy

Meadows beat out shrubs when it comes to storing carbon

23.11.2017 | Life Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>