A new study suggests that bakers may be able to increase health claims on muffins by replacing some of the oil content in their formulas with cocoa fiber.
The study, which was published in LWT–Food Science and Technology, reported that in addition to imparting health benefits, replacing some of the oil in a low-fat chocolate muffin formula with soluble cocoa fiber also may improve texture and extend shelf life. Researchers analyzed the effects of replacing 25, 50 and 75 percent of a formula’s oil content with soluble cocoa fiber. They studied the muffins for changes in texture, composition, appearance and color and also compared the muffins’ flavor and texture using a descriptive sensory analysis. The team reported that the muffins containing cocoa fiber had increased moistness and softness, as well as greater sponginess and springiness. The cocoa fiber muffins also featured a more cohesive crumb structure, which increased in density as the percentage of cocoa fiber increased. Muffins at each cocoa fiber level had a much slower rate of staling during storage than the muffins without cocoa fiber.
The study states that based on these positive results, “soluble cocoa fiber is an encouraging option for replacing oil in a chocolate muffin formulation.”
But the study did note that certain negative characteristics emerged during the muffin trials, demonstrating the need for further tests. Undesirable effects included loss of muffin height, increased stickiness and a noticeable bitter flavor not usually associated with cocoa. But only the muffins with 75 percent fat replacement showed a “significant” decrease in size, the researchers added, and at no time was a loss of weight recorded, even after the muffins had cooled.
“A study to attempt to correct the height by reformulating the leavening agent or beating the egg whites more before adding them to the batter and to correct the lack of a typical chocolate flavor and color by adding a small quantity of cocoa to all the formulations would make it possible to conduct a wide-ranging consumer acceptance study with information on the very considerable fat reduction and high fiber content of the new products,” the report stated.