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This Fruit Butter Has All the Taste of Chocolate But Fewer Calories

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Chocolate cake, chocolate truffles, chocolate milkshakes, and of course, chocolate chip cookies—was there ever a more beloved or drool-worthy treat? But the past few years have brought bad news for chocoholics: We are in a serious chocolate shortage. Due to environmental problems and crop failures, cocoa production has seen a sharp decline. This has caused the price of cocoa butter, one of the main ingredients in all your favorite chocolates, to more than double in the past decade, according to the International Cocoa Organization. Yet the demand for cocoa is expected to rise 30 percent in the next few years. Manufacturers have responded by either increasing the price of chocolate or by adding in other ingredients (like air) to dilute the chocolate. Needless to say, foodies are not happy.

But science may have the answer to this devastating dilemma in the form of a new food that they say has all the same chemical, physical, and cooking properties of regular cocoa. What is this magical food? Mangoes. Yes, one of your favorite tropical fruits may soon be making an appearance in your beloved chocolate-packed desserts. And no, it doesn’t actually taste like the tropical fruit since the refining process removes the mango flavor. Not to mention, as with cocoa butter, we can assume that final chocolate products will only contain a small fraction of the ingredient.

Calling it a "Cinderella species," Sayma Akhter, the senior author of the study published in Scientific Reports explained that wild mango butter is a cheap, readily available, biologically similar substitute for cocoa butter. She added that it even may have an important advantage over cocoa butter—because it has a higher moisture content, chocolate made with mango butter would be naturally lower in calories than the stuff we're used to. (More good chocolate news: Dark Chocolate Could Give You an Edge at the Gym)

There's no word yet from the scientists about when we can expect a commercial form of the mango-chocolate hybrid to be on the market. Right now these enterprising researchers have just identified the new ingredient and now it's up to popular chocolate manufacturers to decide if they're willing to make the swap. Interested in trying it yourself? If you live where wild mangoes grow, primarily in South Asia, you can try your own experiment. Until then we're all waiting with baited breath. And hey, if anyone needs subjects to taste-test the new chocolate, we'll be the first to volunteer!

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