Make your baked sweets healthier with chocolate ingredients containing probiotics, the beneficial bacteria that support gut health. Chocolate is a good delivery system for these microorganisms, according to Laura Bergan, marketing manager for Barry Callebaut, Chicago, IL. She describes applications in baked foods for chips, chunks, drizzles and coatings.

Baking & Snack: What ingredients does Barry Callebaut offer that help create such applications in the baked foods and snacks categories?

Laura Bergen: Due to the overwhelming market need for healthier snack options, Barry Callebaut has conducted significant research and dedicated resources to innovative chocolate products for our customers. In particular, Barry Callebaut offers two products that promote digestive health. We offer Probenefit Chocolate, which is a probiotic chocolate and also a no-sugar added dark chocolate product sweetened with stevia that incorporates fiber to both replace sugar and provide the benefits of added fiber.

How do these ingredients foster better digestive health in humans? Can you share recent research that supports this capability or describes mechanism for this activity?

We have learned that chocolate is a good delivery system for probiotics. The chocolate helps better protect the probiotics as they pass through the digestive tract compared with other food vehicles such as dairy drinks. The fiber in the no-sugar added dark chocolate is used to replace the bulk of sugar, thereby offering a healthier alternative for consumers.

What do formulators need to know about the way these ingredients perform during preparation and processing? Are there limits — regulatory and/or practical — on usage levels in formulations?

There are some limitations on our Probenefit probiotic product. It must be added to the baked good, post bake to insure the chocolate is not heated over 107°F and protect the efficacy of the probiotics. The no-sugar added dark chocolate, sweetened with stevia, is available in EZ-melt form for ease of melting for enrobing or drizzling. We also offer chips and chunks for baking applications.

Are your ingredients better in some applications than others? What types of baked foods and snacks make the best use of these materials?

Our stevia chocolate (no-sugar-added dark chocolate with fiber) is very versatile and effective in baked and snack applications. The Probenefit chocolate is appropriate for baked goods and snacks as a post-bake drizzle and used as a bottom-coating to add a decadent and indulgent touch.

What do you hear from customers and consumers about the finished products made with these ingredients? How well have they been accepted in the marketplace?

The Probenefit chocolate is on the market but is still gaining momentum with consumers. Dairy items such as yogurt containing probiotics have been growing in recent years, and we believe that chocolate with probiotics could follow this same trend. The stevia chocolate with fiber was launched in March 2011 and is a recent addition to our product portfolio. There is a lot of interest and projects with this product due to the market need of healthier snack options. We forecast several product launches with our customers in the near future.