Project title: Structure breakdown during oral processing of aerated chocolates
Supervisors: Prof Maria Charalambides, Dr Philippa Cann, Dr Marc Masen and Prof Yannis Hardalupas
Aerated chocolate products are popular consumer items associated with positive textural and sensory attributes. Among other microstructural features such as cocoa solids, sugar particles, etc. aerated chocolate consists of bubbles as well. Interaction between bubbles and particles occur during the structure build-up and structure breakdown process and therefore it needs to be investigated. Therefore, a multidisciplinary approach is taken to predict how microbubbles impact on the rheological, thermal and lubrication processes through progressive structure breakdown in the mouth. However, the effect of the aerated microstructure on the chocolate’s behavior during both industrial and oral processes is a very complex research field. During oral processing, food first fractures into particles, which interact with saliva to form a bolus, which is then swallowed. During this process, mechanical and thermal loads are applied whilst the effect of the contact with the oral cavity is also crucial in determining the consumer’s taste experience. Chocolate changes phase as it melts further complicating the behavior. However, the effect of aeration on industrial processing or manufacturing of chocolate cannot be neglected. Specifically, the effect of bubbles on the thermal properties of the chocolate is to be determined such that manufacturing can be controlled to ensure that chocolate will have the desirable textural and sensorial attributes.