When at a trade show, do you ever wonder how — and why — companies decide which prototypes to offer visitors to their booths? Of course, these finished foods demonstrate their ingredients, but when Judie Giebel and her colleagues at Briess Malt & Ingredients Co., Chilton, WI, picked Caramel Puffed Corn and Malt-lasses Cookies made with the company’s tapioca syrup and malt extract, they had another goal in mind.

“It’s all about the label — non-GMO, gluten-free, healthy and nutritious,” said Ms. Giebel, Briess, technical services representative and AIB Certified Baker. The formulators deliberately chose alternatives to the corn syrup and molasses normally used. “Tapioca syrup, sorghum syrup and malt extracts are all non-GMO. Tapioca and sorghum syrups are gluten-free, and malt extracts are nutritive sweeteners for a healthy, nutritious label,” she said.

These words are exactly what consumers increasingly want to see on food labels.

As for the prototypes themselves, Ms. Giebel ­selected snack foods that continue to see market growth. “Knowing how these two ingredients — BriesSweet Tapioca Syrup and Maltoferm CR-45 caramel-flavored malt extract — function in other applications, I was able to replace existing ingredients with basically no formula adjustments,” she said.

Both prototypes substituted all of the targeted sweeteners with Briess alternatives. “The great thing is that there are no differences for preparation,” Ms. Giebel said. “Tapioca syrups have very similar carbohydrate profiles to corn syrups, DE to DE. This makes it easy to replace corn syrup 1:1 with tapioca syrup in almost any application, and it will function the same. The only process-related consideration is the amount of solids/moisture of the sweetener. Most syrups have solids in the range of 79 to 81%, so it’s important to check the original sweeteners’ solids and the replacement and make adjustments as necessary.”

Tapioca syrups come in a range of sugar profiles from 28- to 63-DE in liquid and powder forms. The all-natural, enzyme-produced syrups have a clean, neutral flavor with varying degrees of sweetness and functionality.

Malt extracts are different because they add flavor, color and functionality. “Malt extracts, especially specialty malt extracts like Maltoferm CR-45, are exceptionally underutilized in the baking and snack communities,” Ms. Giebel noted. They can be used for browning, as fermentation aids and for flavor and color in breads, bagels, muffins and pizza crusts.

The Caramel Puffed Corn prototype took its cues from kettle corn: popcorn with a sugary coating applied late in the process. This old-fashioned state-fair treat recently turned into a very trendy snack food, now found on store shelves nationwide.

For this item, Briess exchanged BriesSweet Tapioca Syrup for the 42-DE corn syrup in the coating. “We wanted to demonstrate the effectiveness of tapioca syrup as 1:1 substitute for common corn syrup,” Ms. Giebel said. Sweetened puffed corn doesn’t have a complex flavor profile, thus showcasing the clean, rich flavor of tapioca syrup as an alternative sweetener.

With the cookies, the company sought to highlight the full, rich flavor and color of specialty malt extract. “It gives a new twist to this traditional style of cookie,” Ms. Giebel observed. “And that’s another thing consumers want — products that taste homemade like grandma’s but with a new, gourmet taste.” Formulators switched all the molasses in the original product to Maltoferm CR-45. The specialty extract provided not only natural sweetness but also a pronounced caramel flavor.

For more information about clean-label ­tapioca and other syrups and specialty malt extracts, visit www.briess.com/food.