What's Lecithin?

Hello my fellow chocolate lovers,


I am Takanori Chiwata, the chocolate engineer of COCONAMA CHOCOLATE.



Let me share a bit about chocolate’s ingredients today.


Let’s see at the ingredients section of a basic chocolate bar.


It lists sugar, cacao mass, whole milk powder, cacao butter/lecithin, and vanilla.


Did you notice a term you’re familiar with but not sure what exactly it is?


Yep, “lecithin”.


And what exactly is this now?


Lecithin is a type of fat, usually known by its generic term phospholipids. Its specifically given chemical name is phosphatidylcholine.





Here’s its chemical compound.




…I’ve just complicated things more for you didn’t I.



Baseline is, it’s a natural fat that could be found pretty much anywhere.


Plants like soybeans and sunflowers are high in lecithin, and egg yolks are also rich in lecithin as well.


Lecithin is fat without a question, but interestingly it has both fatty and watery part as shown on the diagram below.






Therefore, lecithin becomes handy when it comes to emulsion, meaning combining oil and water.



Let’s put mayonnaise as an example.



Mayonnaise is a food product made by combining egg, oil, and vinegar. However, once oil and vinegar are mixed together it separates immediately. 


Then why is the store bought mayonnaise so well-combined?


The secret is one of its main ingredients. The lecithin in the egg yolk is helping the oil and vinegar come together. Just like this.






Now let’s jump back to chocolate’s ingredients.

We have sugar, cacao mass, cocoa butter, whole milk powder, lecithin, and vanilla.


Sugar dissolves in water, but fat doesn’t.


Cocoa butter in our chocolate is a fat.


As I mentioned ages ago, chocolate is a mixture of superfine particles of sugar and cacao scattered inside a cacao butter.




So when you melt chocolate and leave it for a while, the fat floats on the surface and the particles like sugar sinks.


In large factories, they store their chocolate in humongous tanks up to 10L. I don’t even want to imagine the disaster it’s going to make if the fat and the particles separate...


That’s when we use our fellow lecithin.

Lecithin prevents the separation of cocoa butter and other ingredients by acting as a bridge for the two.





Lecithin really does play a big role when making chocolate doesn’t it?



Majority of the lecithin in chocolate bars today are extracted from soybeans, but with increasing numbers of soy allergic people, sunflower-lecithin chocolates are being produced as well.


Additionally, bean-to-bar chocolates which are made in small numbers could be produced lecithin-free. I suggest comparing the difference in the taste of two!


Lecithin itself will mess up your taste buds, and leave your food taste-less for at least half a day.

So, lecithin-free chocolates should taste richer than regular chocolates!



In our next post, I will be sharing about the secrets of vanilla. Look forward!


With hopes that you will be able to encounter the perfect chocolate just for you,


Takanori Chiwata