Raising the bar on cocoa flavour for chocolate compounds

Consumers’ preference for premium and high-quality affordable chocolate confectionery products is increasing these days. To this, together with the fact that more than 60% of consumers globally indicate that taste is the most important characteristic of chocolate products, we asked ourselves, how to raise the bar in compounds for a strong cocoa taste but still easy to process?

By Nikesh Hindocha, regional director of AAK South East Asia

Smooth and delicious chocolate is known for its premium raw materials. As the recipe for real chocolate products is mainly based on cocoa butter, manufacturers of compound chocolate products are limited in what they can do to enhance the cocoa taste without affecting the bloom stability and shelf life.

This has led to cocoa butter substitutes (CBS) being developed for use in the more affordable alternative to chocolate, more commonly known as compound chocolate. But while compound chocolate can overcome most technical issues and lower the cost of raw materials, it also has its limitations.

One of the more noticeable differences between real chocolate and compound chocolate is found in the sensory aspect — as CBS is not compatible with cocoa butter, chocolate compound products made with CBS contain limited amounts of cocoa powder instead of cocoa mass to ensure a shelf-stable product and avoid excessive softening of the product. This makes the texture and flavor of compound chocolate very different from that of real chocolate, and the sensorial difference is a large contributor to why real chocolate is perceived as more premium than compound chocolate.

This also means that manufacturers looking to minimise the use of cocoa butter in their end products face a dilemma in providing consumers with quality chocolate products that are as close to real chocolate as possible in all aspects. The issue is further compounded as manufacturers seek to maintain low costs, a key factor in producing compound chocolate which, unlike real chocolate, requires no tempering.

This is a particularly pressing issue as consumers typically prioritise taste, texture and flavour when buying chocolate products. In fact, a 2019 global consumer survey conducted by AAK found that more than 60% of consumers worldwide indicated that taste was the most important characteristic of chocolate products

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