Some components in chocolate


Valued Senior Member
Do you crave for chocolate ?

Eating chocolate comes in a number of varieties. Manufacturers prepare dark chocolate by mixing the separated cacao butter with cacao liquor and sugar. They use the same ingredients plus dried milk and various flavorings such as vanilla extract or its factory mimic, vanillin, to make milk chocolate. White chocolate contains cacao butter, sugar, and milk, but no chocolate liquor. In all these chocolates, the fat content is typically between 25 and 35%.

Nearly all chocolate contains small quantities of vitamins such as riboflavin as well as trace levels of many metals needed for a healthy diet, including magnesium, potassium, calcium, iron, and copper. Chocoholics will also remind you that their vice is rich in healthy antioxidant compounds such as catechin and epicatechin.

But many of us eat chocolate just because we crave it: That’s probably because the treat contains stimulants such as caffeine, theobromine, and the amphetamine-like substance phenylethylamine. Chocolate also contains the cannabinoid molecule anandamide, which likely helps induce cravings. (The active molecule in marijuana is also a cannabinoid.)

Pinpointing what makes chocolate taste like chocolate turns out to be tricky. In each type of chocolate, the aroma compounds affecting taste depend on many parameters, including the origin of the cacao, roasting conditions, and processing techniques, says Kirsteen Rodger, a manager at Nestlé Research in Lausanne, Switzerland.

Roasting converts organic compounds in the beans to a variety of flavorful products. For example, it turns amino acids, which tend to be tasteless and odorless, into 3-methylbutanal, phenylacetaldehyde, and other aldehydes that are key components of chocolate’s familiar aroma. The relative concentrations of these and other compounds found in the cacao pod or formed during roasting determine the overall perception of chocolate flavor, Rodger says.

So-called fat blooms also affect people’s perceptions of chocolate flavor. That term refers to the unappealing white or grayish film that sometimes appears on chocolate and ruins its appearance, taste, and texture. Created by fat molecules that migrate from the chocolate’s interior and recrystallize on the surface, the blooming process causes big headaches for confectionaries.

New clues for controlling the old problem came from a recent X-ray scattering study. It shows that as fats and oils migrate through pores in chocolate’s interior, they ruin cacao butter’s crystalline structure, which is key to chocolate’s prized texture. The study suggests that reducing chocolate’s porosity during processing could reduce blooming.

One sure way to alter chocolate’s crystal structure is to pop a piece in your mouth and slowly let it melt. That experiment, best done while concentrating on the rich assortment of flavor compounds, is one you can safely try at home.