Whey-protein inclusion in bars no longer means hard, chalky texture. Several varieties can result in chewy textures and extended shelf life.

Micellar casein
Micellar casein (MC) and microfiltered milk protein are concentrated milk ingredients obtained by microfiltration. They range in composition based on the amount of milk-derived whey protein removed. Concentration and diafiltration can increase the total protein and decrease the amount of lactose in the final ingredient. Unlike MPC and MPI, the microfiltration process alters the casein-to-whey-protein ratio compared to that found in milk.

The trend in satiety-inducing foods is growing the MC market, according to research firm Future Market Insights. In its recent report, analysts identified an opportunity to use MC for protein enrichment of fillings and custards in better-for-you baked foods.

Whey-based proteins
Some of the more familiar dairy protein ingredients are based on whey. Whey protein concentrate (WPC) and whey protein isolate (WPI) are concentrated whey powders. The former contains less than 90% whey protein, while the latter contains 90% or more whey protein. The rest of the powder is fat, lactose and minerals. Whey permeate (WP) is a byproduct of WPC production formed after ultrafiltration of whey to extract protein and fat. It is characterized by a clean, slightly salty taste and uniform particle size and consists of lactose, water, vitamins and minerals.

Earlier this year, Whey 2 Be!, Boca Raton, Fla., introduced a line of namesake protein-packed premium cookies made with WPC, MPC and NDM. Each Whey 2 Be! cookie delivers 20 grams of protein.

Specialty varieties of whey
While most dairy ingredient suppliers offer basic whey ingredients, many also offer specialty varieties. For example, Arla Foods, Inc. has a new whey protein solution that ensures protein bars retain a soft chewy texture for 12 months or more in ambient storage conditions.

Agropur uses ion-exchange technology to manufacture a proprietary WPI with a leucine content of 13.1%.

“Leucine is the amino acid associated with promoting muscle health, making this ingredient attractive for sports nutrition products such as protein bars and muffins,” Ms. Rippe said.

Using that same ion-exchange technology, the company also offers hydrolyzed whey. When used together in a nutrient-dense trail mix bar, the snack provides both rapidly and slowly digested proteins for sustained energy. The bar is also able to maintain a desirable soft yet crunchy texture.

“Combining a faster-digesting protein such as whey protein with a slower-release protein such as casein provides a sustained anabolic effect, in which amino acids are not only spiked rapidly in the blood stream but also are sustained,” said Aaron Martin, R.&D. nutrition innovation manager, Agropur. “This means more amino acids are taken up by the muscle, leading to greater protein synthesis for longer periods. This can result in greater strength and muscle gains.”

It is also paramount to understand how protein addition affects the baking process.

“Adding protein affects dough handling and rheology,” said Jill Rippe, director of product innovation, Agropur. “In general, the batter or dough becomes firmer and less sticky as the protein absorbs the free water in the system more than the flour does during the mixing stage.”

Ms. Rippe explained that adding protein without proper formulation modifications will result in batters and doughs that are dry and crumbly and do not properly spread in the pan.

“Machining can also become a challenge if the water balance is not adjusted properly,” Ms. Rippe said. “Baking with protein is largely a trial-and-error process, even with a carefully laid out plan in place.”