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Getting a good grasp of chocolate

Chocolate coating is a tasty addition to bakery goods, but it also creates challenges when handling compounds in the manufacturing process. A good understanding of the desired result and how to work with chocolate are key to a successful outcome.

Chocolate coating requires specific handling to control its crystallization behavior in the process. Different challenges are associated with the dough, the filling and/or coating process, the chocolate tempering, and with combining bakery goods and chocolate to achieve the desired results, while also optimizing the shelf life of the products using chocolate. Moreover, when chocolate fillings are also a part of the process, specific raw materials and competencies are needed to ensure the desired consumer experience and production process.

Using a cocoa butter substitute (CBS) to create chocolate compounds can significantly reduce formulation costs for products, bakery goods included. A CBS is a fat that is used as a substitute for cocoa butter in chocolate production. They have lower costs than cocoa butter and they can provide similar properties such as texture and mouthfeel to the finished chocolate product. They usually consist of vegetable oils such as palm oil, shea butter, or coconut oil. However, most options on the market present issues with bloom – cocoa butter separating from the other components – and sensory qualities if the amount of cocoa butter exceeds 5% of the total fat content in the formulation.

The fat bloom is accelerated by improper storage or product aging, and formulation issues will only accentuate it. A solution that can help with this challenge is the CEBES™ Choco 15 – a patented compound vegetable fat recently designed by Swedish specialist AAK to be used for the chocolate-like components in bakery goods. It was among the finalists in the Sensory Innovation Award at Food ingredients Europe 2023, where it was introduced. When mixed with other coating ingredients, CEBES™ Choco 15 eliminates the necessity for tempering. Once mixed, the baked goods can be easily coated with the coating quickly setting so it can be sent to packaging.

This plant-based CBS compound increases cocoa butter tolerance from 5% to 15%, which helps deliver an enhanced cocoa flavor. It supports a long shelf life and helps avoid bloom even in recipes with a high ratio of cocoa, ensuring that products retain a glossy appearance, remain hard, are stable at room temperature, and are pleasant to the touch. In addition, it is free from trans-fatty acids (TFAs) and has cost-efficient processing, with no tempering process required, while maintaining a fast setting time.

Market trends indicate that affordable indulgence will be essential in a recessionary environment, with consumers increasingly seeking out high-quality treats at more modest prices. CEBES™ Choco 15 is a cost-effective solution that is designed to help brands deliver a more authentic chocolate experience across a broad array of products.

Bakery meets chocolate and confectionery: fusion trends

Innovation in product development favors unusual combinations and new experiences. In the world of ‘ChocoBakery’, this means hybrid products are created where chocolate adds something to a sweet bakery application, and vice-versa.

Beyond just chocolate cake and biscuits, it’s all about decadent, indulgent treats in innovative snacking formats, often co-branded to leverage trusted, salient brands. AAK observes: “Chocolate adds sophisticated sensory appeal to bakery items; in turn, the bakery segment brings variety and novel textures to chocolate offerings. It also adds aesthetic appeal, driving engagement on social media. We’re certainly aware that cross-products have been around for a long time, but things are happening in the crossing between the chocolate and bakery industries.

Analysis of new chocolate confectionery launches in 2022 reveals a preference for the crunch texture, constituting 15% of these introductions. Additionally, 20% of recently released packaged sweet bakery products now incorporate chocolate. This suggests a growing trend of industry consolidation, fortifying the overall landscape of both the chocolate and bakery sectors.”

Better, sustainable products

A diverse range of solutions can provide options to achieve various product claims. For instance, AAK’s specialty cocoa butter, COBAO™ Pure, is UTZ certified – it can be used to create vegan chocolate with a clean label by eliminating milk fat. In the realm of compound products, AAK provides solutions that eliminate the need for labeling hydrogenation and trans fatty acids.

The company’s CBE range also allows for an RSPO-certified palm claim and is offered as Kolo Nafaso shea. AAK sources shea directly from women’s groups through the Kolo Nafaso supply chain, which focuses on poverty alleviation and women’s empowerment.

Pricing, formulating and quality

As the world navigates cocoa prices reaching unprecedented peaks, such treats need not disappear from moments of indulgence. Given the surge of more than 90% in cocoa butter prices over the last five years, and with expectations of continued increases in the future, transitioning to cocoa butter equivalents (CBEs) offers an opportunity for cost savings, while still meeting consumer expectations regarding taste and affordability.

AAK explains: “Incorporating CBEs into your chocolate recipes not only results in cost efficiency but also enhances the snap and texture of the chocolate, extending the product’s shelf life. This combination enables tailored indulgence and opens up new avenues for chocolate innovation. By incorporating 5% or less of CBEs, your product can still bear the label of chocolate.“ The CEBES™ Choco 15 compound can also maintain product quality and control production costs, as this CBS is TFA-free and has cost-efficient processing, with no tempering necessary, while maintaining a fast setting time.

To target the premium product segment, while keeping offerings available, optimization strategies vary depending on the market and target consumer groups. “To ensure the selection of the most suitable solution, we employ our co-development approach. Examples of innovative and cost-effective/high-quality indulgences might include bakery goods covered with chocolate or chocolate-like coatings, chocolates filled with crunchy cookies, and collaborative branding ventures,” AAK specialists weigh in.

AAK recently conducted a global consumer survey on chocolate motivations, which showed that taste consistently emerges as the primary driver for purchase across all researched countries. Additionally, the study highlighted affordability as a significant purchase factor, although taste still reigns supreme, outranking other considerations.


Read the full article in Baking+Biscuit International, issue 2 – 2024!


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