Why are we willing to pay such premium prices for our Valentine’s Day treats? Is it because we think our partners deserve it or is it because we know we’ll get into trouble if we skimp and buy a cheap alternative? Whatever the real reason, we can be pretty sure of one thing: if we did go for the cheap option we’d be found out!
Good quality in chocolate, caramel and other suitable sweet nothings we may bring home on Valentine’s Day is easily distinguished. That melt-in-the-mouth smoothness, the delicious stringiness when we bite of a section of caramel and watch it ooze, the way it crumbles on our lips, these virtues have been carefully formulated, ensuring those famous brand names we all recognise stay at the top of their game.
The magic and romance of materials characterization
Food manufacturers, like other materials manufacturers, turn to characterization techniques to ensure both consistency and quality in their products. They also measure and compare the effects of manipulating certain physical properties, such as chocolate particle size, towards developing even better, more palatable products. Additionally, all those interesting and intriguing shapes that confectionery manufacturers can achieve relies on a property formulators refer to as ‘stand-up’.
A ‘stand-up’ product resists ‘slumping’. Stands to reason!
For those of you who wish to add a little science to your romantic dinner conversation, there are several application notes in Malvern’s knowledge library that deliver detailed examples of this approach in action:
- Employing laser diffraction measurements with a Mastersizer 2000 to control particle size in chocolate can improve both flavour release and mouth feel.
- The Malvern Morphologi G3 Automated Particle Characterization System equipped with the wet cell accessory can be used to further characterize chocolate in terms of the shape of the particles.
- The Bohlin rheometer can be used to assess the low shear rate viscosity which is one measure of the caramel’s / chocolate’s stand-up properties
What do you mean; ‘Science isn’t romantic’?
So, as you deliver your box of high quality goodies, you are now fully equipped to lean across and talk shear rates and particle size distributions…