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News

New special processing technique transforms melted chocolate into fine, snow-like powder

Fraunhofer-Gesellschaft Zur Forderung Der Angewandten Forschung E.V. : 23 September, 2004  (New Product)
A special processing technique transforms melted chocolate into fine, snow-like powder. What makes it unique is that liquid aromas can be encapsulated in the globules of chocolate, even though these particles are only a few micrometers in diameter.
In future, a fine powder could enhance the flavor of hot cocoa and add other aromas to it. A team of researchers working with Professor Eckhard Weidner has developed a method of encapsulating liquids in strewable chocolate powder. Only a few micrometers in diameter, the chocolate globules hold tiny drops of aroma or even high-proof liquors inside them and can be stored just like normal bars of chocolate. 'Up to now, it has never been possible to incorporate liquid aromas in chocolate in such a way that the product could be further processed as a powder,' says Weidner who holds the chair of Process Technology at the Institute of Thermo- and Fluid Dynamics at the Ruhr University of Bochum and was recently appointed director of the Fraunhofer Institute for Environmental, Safety, and Energy Technology UMSICHT.

The method by which the scientists have now succeeded in doing so is known as 'particles from gas saturated solutions'. To produce aromatized chocolate powder by this method, the researchers mix melted chocolate with a liquid aroma, at the same time inserting carbon dioxide gas under high pressure. Next, they force the mixture through a nozzle into a container whose interior is held at normal atmospheric pressure. The carbon dioxide instantly expands, vaporizing the melted chocolate into tiny droplets. The expansion entails a cooling process which causes the chocolate droplets to solidify immediately, enclosing the liquid aroma inside them. The higher the gas pressure, the finer the powder. In this way, applying pressures between 30 and 150 bar, the researchers can produce tiny particles with a diameter of 10 to 200 micrometers. One advantage of this technique is that the aromas do not evaporate because they are instantly cooled to about five degrees or lower when the gas expands. And better still, the carbon dioxide atmosphere prevents the flavoring agents from oxidizing.

There are not yet any products that contain the chocolate powder, but Weidner can think of numerous ways of using it. He has already tried out some of his original ideas, such as combining the powder with fresh fruit. 'Because the powder is so fine, it adheres to the pieces of fruit when they are dipped in. Then it suddenly melts while you are eating, and you have your whole mouth full of chocolate and fruit.' An explosion of flavor, he assures, coupled with a subtle cooling effect as the particles melt. Whilst the latter is not likely to enhance one's enjoyment of hot cocoa, it could certainly lend desserts that certain exclusive touch.
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