• chocolate;
  • pasticle size distribution;
  • rheology

ABSTRACT:  With an increasing consumption of lipids nowadays, decreasing the fat content in food products has become a trend. Chocolate is a fat-based suspension that contains about 30%wt fat. Reducing fat content causes an increase in the molten chocolate viscosity. This leads to 2 major issues: difficulties in the process and a loss of eating quality in the final product, reported to have poor in-mouth melting properties, remain hard, and difficult to swallow. Literature shows that optimizing the particle size distribution (PSD), that is, having one with an increased packing fraction, can decrease the viscosity of highly concentrated suspensions. This study focuses on the impact of the PSD and fat content on the rheological properties, melting behavior, and hardness of chocolate models (dispersions of sugar in fat). We show that optimizing the PSD while reducing the fat content to a critical amount (22%wt) can decrease the viscosity of the molten material and reduce the hardness of the crystallized chocolate models. Melting in the mouth, characterized by an in vitro collapse speed, is faster for the samples with an optimized PSD. The decrease in the viscosity by optimizing the PSD in systems with a constant fraction of medium phase is based on the decrease of interparticle contact, reducing the particle aggregates strength, and structure buildup during flow or meltdown. In its crystallized state, the particle network is less interconnected, providing less resistance to breakage and meltdown.