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Europe: Using limonene for better reduced-fat chocolate

Adding limonene to cocoa butter could result in better reduced-fat chocolate, researchers report in American Chemical Society’s Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry.

Previous research has shown that adding limonene — a compound found in lemons and oranges — results in a smoother, softer chocolate that melts more easily than typical reduced-fat chocolates.

Annelien Rigolle and colleagues at KU Leuven in Belgium sought to investigate exactly how limonene impacts chocolate production.

They focused on the crystallization of cocoa butter, which undergoes several important transformations at different times and temperatures.

The researchers examined crystallization at 63 °F and 68 °F using differential scanning calorimetry and X-ray diffraction to examine cocoa butter profiles when limonene was added. They found that adding the compound accelerated cocoa butter crystallization at 63 °F, but inhibited cocoa butter crystallization at 68 °F.

Varied concentrations of limonene also affected the crystallization steps of the cocoa butter differently, so they could ultimately affect the texture of chocolate.

The study suggests that carefully choosing the amount of limonene and the temperature at which chocolate is processed could lead to a smoother, more luxurious reduced-fat chocolate.

The researchers acknowledge funding from the Fund for Scientific Research-Flanders, Belgium and KU Leuven University.