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Scientists use CLS to find secret ingredient for “the perfect chocolate”

“Imagine if you could add a component that directs the entire crystallization process to a high-quality finished product. You wouldn’t need fancy tempering protocols or industrial machines — you could easily achieve the desired crystalline form just by the addition of this component,”


September 8, 2021
By Bakers Journal


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Researchers from the University of Guelph had their first look at the detailed molecular structure of dark chocolate using the Canadian Light Source (CLS) at the University of Saskatchewan. Their results were published in Nature Communications.

Scientists used synchrotron technology, a sort of particle accelerator to reveal a key ingredient that can create the ideal chocolate structure at the molecular level: This promises to revolutionize the chocolate industry.

Structure is key when it comes creating the best quality of chocolate. However, that texture or flavour not easy to achieve. “One of the major problems in chocolate making is tempering,” said Alejandro Marangoni, a professor at the University of Guelph and Canada Research Chair in Food, Health and Aging in a statement. “Very much like when you temper steel, you have to achieve a certain crystalline structure in the cocoa butter.”

Skilled chocolate makers use specialized tools and training to manipulate cocoa butter for gourmet chocolate. However, Marangoni wondered if adding a special ingredient to chocolate could drive the formation of the correct crystal structure without the complex cooling and mixing procedures typically used by chocolatiers during tempering.

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“Imagine if you could add a component that directs the entire crystallization process to a high-quality finished product. You wouldn’t need fancy tempering protocols or industrial machines — you could easily achieve the desired crystalline form just by the addition of this component,” Marangoni added.

His team went to the CLS to see if their secret ingredient, a specific phospholipid, could drive the formation of an ideal chocolate structure. The facility’s bright light, which is millions of times brighter than the sun, allowed the team to get images of the interior structure of their dark chocolate in exquisite detail.

“We have some of the most beautiful micrographs of the finished chocolate that were only possible because we did this work at the CLS,” said Marangoni.

In a world first, the researchers were able to get detailed imaging of the internal structure of dark chocolate, thanks to the synchrotron’s state of the art BMIT and BXDS beamlines. “Working with the CLS, I would call it a next level interaction,” Marangoni added. “It was extremely easy to set up a project and we had enormous support from beamline scientists.”

In collaboration with CLS Plant Imaging Lead Jarvis Stobbs, Marangoni and colleagues were able to confirm the positive effect their ingredient had on obtaining the ideal structure for chocolate.