Synchrotron X-ray microtomography of the interior microstructure of chocolate
First published in
Number in series
Proceedings of SPIE - The International Society for Optical Engineering (9967): 99670N (2016)
Contribution to Conference
The structure of chocolate, a multicomponent food product, was analyzed using microtomography. Chocolate consists of a semi-solid cocoa butter matrix and a dense network of suspended particles. A detailed analysis of the microstructure is needed to understand mass transport phenomena. Transport of lipids from e.g. a filling or liquid cocoa butter is responsible for major problems in the confectionery industry such as formation of chocolate bloom, which is the formation of visible white spots or a grayish haze on the chocolate surface and leads to consumer rejections and thus large sales losses for the confectionery industry. In this study it was possible to visualize the inner structure of chocolate and clearly distinguish the particles from the continuous phase by taking advantage of the high density contrast of synchrotron radiation. Consequently, particle arrangement and cracks within the sample were made visible. The cracks are several micrometers thick and propagate throughout the entire sample. Images of pure cocoa butter, chocolate without any particles, did not show any cracks and thus confirmed that cracks are a result of embedded particles. They arise during the manufacturing process. Thus, the solidification process, a critical manufacturing step, was simulated with finite element methods in order to understand crack formation during this step. The simulation showed that cracks arise because of significant contraction of cocoa butter, the matrix phase, without any major change of volume of the suspended particles. Tempering of the chocolate mass prior to solidification is another critical step for a good product quality. We found that samples which solidified in an uncontrolled manner are less homogeneous than tempered samples. In summary, our study visualized for the first time the inner microstructure of tempered and untempered cocoa butter as well as chocolate without sample destruction and revealed cracks, which might act as transport pathways.
microstructure of complex food material
Synchrotron X-ray tomography