Consumers demand a tasty chocolate experience in all types of bakery and snack items, but their health preferences can create a tug-of-war effect if the manufacturers are not careful. Emphasizing flavor during the formulation process is key. It’s the reason consumers seek chocolate-flavored baked goods and snacks in the first place, so companies cannot sacrifice health for the sensory experience. A product needs balance.

Olam Cocoa takes the “less is more” approach for product development.

“By working directly with manufacturers and supporting them both with this protocol and with specific cocoa powders that are uniquely suitable for each application, bakers can successfully decrease the amount of cocoa powder required to achieve the same rich flavor and bold color impact, which results in cost savings,” said Wouter Stomph, North American head of cocoa ingredient development and innovation, Olam Cocoa..

“Less is more” can also be seen as the elimination of certain ingredients. For example, Olam Cocoa’s development of D11BK, a nib alkalized black cocoa powder, takes out added sodium for health-conscious consumers.

“During the alkalization process, an acidity regulator such as sodium is typically added to the mixture, but with D11BK, the sodium is replaced with potassium,” Mr. Stomph said. “This allows manufacturers to produce a final product that is lower in sodium while maintaining the strong, intense flavor and dark color typically associated with highly alkalized cocoa powders.”

Under its deZaan brand, Olam Cocoa has created D00ZR, a cocoa powder with 0.5% fat content. This allows delicate desserts such as macarons and sponge cakes to maintain structure and be labelled “low-fat” when mixed with low-calorie ingredients and alternative sweeteners. In turn, consumers view products with low-fat cocoa powder as a permissible indulgence.

Carly Meck, senior R&D scientist, Blommer Chocolate Co., said formulations using a 10% to 12% low-fat cocoa powder can create a greater flavor impact than a traditional 22% to 24% high-fat cocoa powder.

“Many of our historic formulas call for high-fat cocoa powder when the same flavor profile can be achieved with low-fat cocoa powder at a lower rate,” she explained. “By introducing more cocoa solids into your matrix, you are contributing more flavor to your final product.”

Less is more can also be a mindset for labeling products with cocoa in them. Olam Cocoa developed TrueDark (N11D), a non-alkalized, dark cocoa powder within its brand deZaan, to provide an ingredient solution that’s straightforward and easy to understand. TrueDark can be listed as just “cocoa” on ingredient labels as opposed to “cocoa processed with alkali” or “cocoa processed with acidity regulator.”

Sometimes the sensory experience outweighs a consumer’s health preference when a craving for indulgence takes over. Cargill’s cocoa innovations work toward premium, indulgent experiences in bakery items.

“This inspired the recent launch of our new Gerkens Duchess cocoa powder, designed specifically with bakery use in mind,” said Jeroen Le Blanc, cocoa and chocolate product line manager for North America, Cargill. “When used in applications such as cookies, cakes and more, Gerkens Duchess offers a unique, round chocolatey taste and smell, providing consumers with the ultimate chocolate experience. It also provides an appealing mouthfeel and warm brown color, truly delivering premium indulgence across all senses.”

A major cocoa innovation and sensory experience occurred with Barry Callebaut’s introduction of a fourth chocolate, Ruby. It is made from pure cocoa beans and through specific processing, reaches a natural cocoa bean taste.

“Barry Callebaut’s Ruby has a new and unique sensory profile — a tension between fresh berry-fruitiness and luscious smoothness — unlocked from pure cocoa beans that are specially chosen for their ruby properties, without adding berry flavors or colors,” the company said.

As preferences for chocolate evolve, manufacturers must carefully sift through trends to create sensible products. Innovations in cocoa powders can help level out formulations to provide a balance of well-being and flavor that consumers crave.

This article is an excerpt from the August 2019 issue of Baking & Snack. To read the entire feature on chocolate, click here.