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These days it's not all that hard to find a bar of chocolate without some sort of emulsifier in it, the most common being lecithin.

Emulsifiers' role in chocolate is to reduce chocolate's viscosity - to make it thinner in other words.

Right. So that's what lecithin does. But, how do emulsifiers like lecithin work? What are they doing to the chocolate to thin it out?

Tags: emulsifier, emulsifiers, lecithin, viscocity

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Replies to This Discussion

Honest question?
Simple answer.

lecithin sticks to the non-fat particles in chocolate, making it easier for the fat particles to coat them.
The reasons why lecithin make the fat stick better has to do with simple chemistry (Hydrophobic/Hydrophilic interations).

In particular, the tiny sugar crystals can contain very very small amounts of water which make them harder to coat with fat. So where you have more sugar, like in milk chocolate, and more other components (like milk powder - again minuite amounts of water) it can be good to add a bit of lecithin. Some purists say lecithin is a 'pollutant,' but it's not that simple.
Because lecithin is very efficient at what it does, only tiny amounts are needed to have an effect. And when carefully used, it is completely undetectable by flavour. Used judiciously, it has its place in the finest of fine chocolates.

Of course, fat will still stick to the non-fat particles, but less efficiently, without lecithin.

What I think is unfortunate is when too much is used and you can taste it. But usually only the usual suspects will do this. And they tend to due to practical realities of keeping the water content of massive bulk stored sugar and milk powder, very low.
Unfortunately, lecithin is typically used with an eye toward stability and as a cheap alternative to additional processing (smaller particles have greater surface area within the same mass and thus create amore stable product).

Lecithin makes the chocolate a lot easier to work with though more likely to sieze. It increase the shelflife of truffles type products by decreasing water activity and helping to maintain proper water/fat/solids dispersal.

Lecithin has many great uses, but I prefer chocolates that lack it, so I may add only when I deem appropriate. For thinning, I prefer to take the additional cocoa butter path.


One other thing to note with regard to lecithin, is that it is a double-edged sword. Yes, it helps to thin chocolate out so that it flows better, but once a certain threshold is reached, it can also thicken the chocolate.

...just my 2 cents for what it's worth.

I make small batches of chocolate, about 1 kg, from my own beans. I use lecithin as an emulsifier but not sure how much to use. Some say a pinch but how much is this? The lecithin I use is liquid. Is there a solid formulation?



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