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avatarLecithin in Chocolate

By Bryn Kirk on August 22, 2010 | Comments (3)

Take a look at an ingredient label on a bar of chocolate.  9 times out of 10 you will see soya lecithin listed there.

Is using lecithin as an ingredient in chocolate important, and what is the benefit of using it? 

Lecithin is a phospholipid typically derived from soybeans or eggs.  In its liquid form, it is a yellow-brownish fatty substance with a fairly thick viscosity.

Lecithin is very important to chocolate because it reduces viscosity, replaces expensive ingredients such as cocoa butter, improves the flow properties of chocolate, and can improve the shelf life for certain products.

Viscosity reduction, or making a coating thinner, can certainly be done by adding cocoa butter or other fats and oils, but it takes greater amounts to accomplish this and is therefore more costly. 

What percentage of lecithin is used in chocolate?

If 3.0 % or 4.0% additional cocoa butter (could be even greater depending on the viscosity of the finished product) is needed to thin down a coating, only 0.5% of lecithin would be needed to get the same result.  A little lecithin goes a long way. 

However, there is a limit for lecithin.  After 0.5%, the reducing effects on viscosity stop and can even start to go the other way and increase the viscosity.

Chocolate manufacturers know just how much to use in each formulation to maximize the advantage in viscosity.

Categories: chocolate education,chocolate Q&A
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3 Comments »

  1. avatar

    Per Epstein and Olsan, March 3, 1912, lecithin increases fermentation. Per “mnwelldir.org”, cancer metabolizes through a process of fermentation; and fermentation requires sugar. Sugar and soy lecithin are ingredients in most American-made chocolates. Many people break out after eating chocolate because their bodies do not easily digest/assimilate lecithin. For these people, lecithin and sugar, combined, can also be a deadly because it stands to reason that if sugar gets trapped in the body, by lecithin, then the growth of cancerous tumors accelerates. Therefore, chocolate manufacturers should exclude lecithin from their products.

    Comment by Bucky Ball — July 12, 2012 @ 7:42 pm

  2. avatar

    I don’t think any of the European chocolates have lecithin in them. It makes me sick. I can eat Lindt all day long with no ill effects, but Hersheys makes me sick and tastes like wax.

    Comment by Chuck — January 4, 2013 @ 8:50 pm

  3. avatar

    Hersheys is not chocolate, or at least it has too little of cocoa to be called chocolate. It is just a “cocoa resemblance artificial buttery substance” and we are talking about chocolate here, not about hersheys.

    Comment by Alex — July 16, 2014 @ 3:43 pm

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