Today’s sweet fillings give bakers a variety of new product options that
provide more healthful choices for sweet indulgence.
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Today's consumers have an eye on the label even when indulging. Given the opportunity, they will choose the more healthful of two baked products. To meet this need, providers of sweet fillings are coming up with a wide variety of innovative healthful formulations. The benefit to the baker is the ability to put a new twist on standard products.
Fruit ‘n fiber
Sweet fillings tend to complement each other. Almost every type can be used alone or combined with another to create flavoful blends. Fruit commonly is used as a filling in baked products, but new twists on old flavors are creating a lot of interest.
Fiber-added fruit fillings offer consumers a healthful option for pies, tarts, filled muffins, cakes and Danish, notes Brenda Fermin, R&D manager, Puratos Corp., Cherry Hill, N.J. Fiber can be added to standard fillings, such as raspberry and apple, or more exotic fruit blends.
“Actually these fillings have so much fiber in them, a normal serving size for an average Danish provides a good source of fiber. A slice of fruit-filled pie could be considered a high fiber source,” says Kathryn Power, assistant trade marketing manager, Puratos.
Flavor, however, always is the primary issue with any baked product; more so with sweets. Anything can be healthful, but can it taste as good or better than the original version? “If it doesn't taste good, then we go back to the drawing board,” Fermin says.
Exotic to antioxidant rich
Antioxidants also are in demand today and superfruits provide a good vehicle for delivering this healthful benefit.
“A superfruit is typically a rare, exotic fruit that combines exceptionally high nutrient richness, antioxidant qualities, plus an appealing flavor,” says David Miller, vice president, sales and marketing, EFCO Products Inc., Poughkeepsie, N.Y. “Pomegranate was one of the first superfruits we used in our filling formulations; açai was another. Then we started looking at some that were more obscure; mangosteen, goji and yumberry,” Miller adds.
Photo courtesy of American Almond Products Co. Inc.
Photo courtesy of American Almond Products Co. Inc.
Many of the newer types of superfruits taste good, but the flavor needs to be introduced gently to the consumer. Therefore, instead of making fillings of a pure yumberry puree, consumers can be enticed with interesting and unique blends.
“We have formulated several great superfruit fillings, such as pomegranate/raspberry, mangosteen/pineapple, yumberry/strawberry, açai/blueberry and goji/peach,” Miller says. “People want to try these new flavors, but a blend of something old and something new improves product acceptance.”
As far as future exotic sweet filling blends, Miller says they also are focusing on fruit/spice and fruit/herb combinations. “We are getting requests for sweet/hot combinations, such as cherry/chili and chocolate/chili. I don't see these being in mainstream bakeries this year, but I do see them growing in popularity down the line,” he says.
The ability to customize crème-style fillings is virtually endless. “What everybody is looking for is a way to set their product apart and drive awareness with the consumer. As long as they can meet our minimum, which is relatively reasonable, we are happy to produce a signature product for them. It adds a little excitement to their baked product line. A unique filling can boost sales in a cake or pastry line that has been stagnant for too long,” Miller says.
Permissible indulgence with dairy
Just the word “dairy” brings up images of sinfully high-calorie and high-fat whipped creams, rich custards and mouth-melting cream cheese blends.
This is not the case today because associations, such as Dairy Management Inc. (DMI), based in Rosemont, Ill., are turning the tables. Its latest formulations are finding a huge audience, with recipes for what they term “permissible indulgence” literally flying off the website (www.innovatewithdairy.com/innovatewithdairy/articles/formulations-new) and into bakers' facilities, large and small:
“We have a cream cheese filling formula that uses both nonfat dry milk and whey protein concentrate. It has great flavor and also more protein, says Sharon Gerdes, senior account manager, DMI. “This filling gives an extra health benefit with great taste.”
One of the great aspects of all types of dairy-based fillings is they complement all partners in pastry, including fruit, nuts and blends, such as caramel and chocolate. The fillings blend well with many baked products, including pastries, pies and snack cakes. Basic cream cheese, butterscotch, vanilla and chocolate are examples of popular dairy-based fillings.
Photo courtesy of USDEC.
Photo courtesy of EFCO Products Inc.
The latest dairy-cream fillings use either nonfat dry milk or whey protein concentrate in various levels depending on how much of a protein boost is desired. More healthful products can be created by adding levels of whey protein concentrate. Bakers can use either whey protein concentrate (80 percent) for higher protein levels or whey protein concentrate (34 percent) for better economy. Whey protein concentrate adds protein and a creamy dairy note.
One potential area on the horizon is the development of sweet-yogurt fillings. “Yogurt has a very healthy halo. A blend of nonfat yogurt powder and nonfat dry milk work very well in yogurt fillings because of the lower pH,” Gerdes says.
Nuts about fillings
Nut pastes add a unique flavor to many traditional fillings, giving them a new twist. “What we are seeing is a growing interest in the old traditional types of fillings. For these, bakers can use one of our complete almond fillings, or we can provide the ground almonds or pure almond paste, so bakers can make it fresh by adding butter and eggs,” says Priscilla Martel, culinary director, American Almond Products Co. Inc., Brooklyn, N.Y. American Almond recently introduced a new product called a schmear. This bake-stable filling comes in almond, chocolate or cinnamon and offers easy use for a wide range of more economical fillings and complements other fillings well, Martel adds.
As far as upcoming trends, the vegan prepared products area is starting to show interest in nut products for sweet fillings. “One can make a vegan crème filling. When nuts are ground with liquid and whisked, they make a creamy liquid. It is a fringe area, but it is growing now,” Martel says.
More to come
Yogurt pastry fillings? Sweet and hot fruit blends? Vegan crème fillings? Anything a baker could want can be created. Look for a growing selection of enhanced old favorites and completely new combinations that will open new market opportunities for all bakers and provide a wealth of healthful choices for flavorful indulgence for the consumer.