Chocolate may be used in nutrition or meal replacement bars in the form of inclusions or through enrobing.
Chocolate offers many different colors and tastes. Non-alkalized cocoa is light brown and gives a fruity, acidic cocoa flavor. Alkalized cocoa ranges from light brown to dark brown in color.
Millions the world over enjoy chocolate, as it enhances the tastes of a variety of bakery foods such as cakes, cookies, brownies and muffins. Many theories account for chocolate's addictive qualities, from its theobromine content to its effects on the brain's pleasure centers.
But the simple fact is, chocolate tastes good on its own, and it typically improves bakery foods to which it is added.
Chocolate comes in strengths and flavors to suit every palate, including unsweetened bakers chocolate; smooth, dark semisweet chocolate; creamy milk chocolate; and white chocolate. Also included in this spectrum are chocolate coatings, compound chocolate coatings, and natural-process and dutched cocoa powders. Bakers should carefully select the proper form, flavor and color depending upon the desired fat content and pH of the application.
Put your coat on
Cocoa butter is the predominant ingredient in chocolate, and cocoa butter's melting point—between 93°F and 98°F—gives chocolate a "melt-inyourmouth" characteristic. Compound chocolate coatings are chocolate-like products that utilize vegetable fats other than cocoa butter. This saves costs and achieves higher melting points for stability in applications such as enrobed baked goods and coated donuts. Chocolate coatings are classified as lauric or non-lauric and are derived from hard vegetable or tropical sources. Lauric fats include palm kernel and coconut oils, while non-lauric fats include soybean, cottonseed and palm oils. While these other fats may replace cocoa butter at differing degrees to enhance chocolate's heat resistance, it is important to note that non-lauric coatings typically are softer than their lauric counterparts. Another difference is that non-lauric coatings do not require tempering, which is an extra process of heating the chocolate between 86°F and 88°F in order to allow the chocolate to set into the most stable crystal structure.
"Compound coatings offer several important advantages to bakers," says one chocolate manufacturer. "First is that these ready-to-use products do not need to be tempered as cocoa butter does—they simply are cooled 5°F to 10°F above the coating's melting point. These coatings also set very quickly at 75°F, drying to a beautiful finish in a few seconds, and will not lose their shininess even at extreme temperatures. They also are not subject to bloom—meaning that the coating will not spot, bleed or turn gray when frozen." Bakers may formulate these coatings to be free of trans fatty acids and without sugar, he says.
Working with chocolate
If chocolate is not tempered, it will bloom. Fat bloom results from the accumulation of large cocoa butter crystals on the chocolate surface. This makes chocolate feel oily and melt when touched. The grayish-white discoloration on the surface is made up entirely of cocoa butter that has resolidified in an undesirable crystal form. It often is accompanied by numerous minute cracks that dull the appearance of the chocolate. Poor storage conditions cause fat bloom. To prevent bloom, it is important not to expose chocolate to wide fluctuations in temperature. Instead, all temperature changes should be made gradually. Although it may look unpleasant, it is still safe to eat. However, the chocolate will have an undesirable taste and waxy mouthfeel.
"There are several ways to add chocolate to cakes and dessert items," says one chocolate manufacturer. "Most formulations will require that chocolate is melted prior to incorporation into the batter." The manufacturer recommends that bakers follow these guidelines to ensure smoothly melted chocolate:
The amount of fat in the chocolate will have a direct influence on the chocolate's viscosity or fluidity, which are important parameters for enrobing. "The temperature conditions in the enrober should remain constant regardless of the fat content of the coating," says one chocolate manufacturer. "Ideally these would be 86°F to 88°F for milk chocolates and 88°F to 91°F for dark chocolates." Thicker coatings flow more easily at the higher end of the temperature ranges mentioned above. Bakery foods and cookies being coated should be allowed to thoroughly cool at about 10°F to 15°F below the chocolate temperature before coating, the manufacturer says. Enrobing centers that are either too hot or too cool will result in bloom and possible cracking as well.
Bakers may want to adjust their formulations to substitute part of their chocolate liquor with cocoa and vice versa. Cocoa powder blended with vegetable oils and shortening may replace small amounts of liquor. If the amount of substitution is substantial, the attributes of cocoa butter must be carefully considered and replaced with a fat that has a similar melt point and behavior. The principle difference between chocolate liquor and cocoa powder is the fat-to-solids ratio. While most chocolate liquor contains 50% to 56% fat content (44% to 50% cocoa solids), cocoa powder typically contains 10% fat as cocoa butter and 90% solids.
"Therefore, when replacing 10 lbs. of liquor with cocoa powder, the baker needs to replace 4.8 lbs. of solids and 5.2 lbs. of fat," the manufacturer says. "Since the cocoa powder is roughly 10% fat and 90% solids, 5.3 lbs. of powder supply the needed 4.8 lbs. of solids and 0.5 lbs. of fat. This then requires an additional 4.7 lbs. of cocoa butter to balance out the recipe. When replacing powder with liquor, the inverse math holds true and the baker usually has to remove some fat from the formulations."
To produce quality cocoa, cacao beans are roasted to develop color and flavor. The hulled and degermed beans are called nibs and contain roughly 50% of the fat that cocoa butter contains. These nibs are then passed through different mills where they are ground to release their fat. The liquid discharged from the mill is known as chocolate liquor and solidifies upon cooling into unsweetened baking chocolate. It may be further processed with sugar to yield sweet chocolate, or with sugar and milk to produce milk chocolate. The chocolate liquor is then pressed and ground, releasing cocoa butter fat to varying degrees. When the process is completed, cocoa powder remains.
Cocoa powders typically have 10% to 24% fat. The standard powder, widely used in the baking industry, offers 10% to 12% fat and the premium powder provides 22% to 24% fat. However, for bakers looking to improve the chocolate impact of their products without increasing the fat levels, manufacturers offer concentrated natural flavors of cocoa butter in a powder form. "Spray-dried cocoa powder replacers help round out the chocolate flavor profile, improve product mouthfeel and also prolong the chocolate taste, all important attributes for consumers to be repeat buyers," says another chocolate manufacturer. "The usage level is between 0.5% to 2% based on the finished product weight. And while only a small amount of fat is added to the product, a large flavor impact is delivered. Cocoa powder replacers have a wide range of uses from low-fat applications, such as some cake mixes, to premium baked goods requiring an extra edge in the marketplace," he says.
Non-alkalized cocoa, sometimes called natural-process cocoa, has a characteristically light brown color and carries a fruity, acidic cocoa flavor. While it may be used for some very mildly flavored, light colored and inexpensive cakes, the color is too light and the flavor too mild to have much of an impact in bakery applications. Nonalkalized cocoa possesses a pH that is slightly acidic, ranking from 5 to 6. Depending on the alkalizing conditions, the pH may be raised as high as 8.7. As the pH increases, the color of the cocoa powder becomes darker and its flavor profile becomes less acidic.
Alkalized cocoa also is called "dutched" because cocoa processors in Holland pioneered this technique. The color of dutched cocoa ranges from light brown to red-brown to very dark brown, and this process helps improve cocoa's wettability, a plus for cake mixes. Dutched cocoa may be used in a wide range of cakes, brownies and cookies. "While the dark brown powders are often used for donuts and devil's food cakes, the very dark brown powders are many times used for very dark sandwich cookies," one chocolate manufacturer says.
In general, the amount of leavening agents needs to be adjusted when alkalized cocoa powders are used," he says. "The alkali in the powders has an effect on the rise of the dough. When cocoa replaces flour, the amount of moisture needs to be adjusted as well. Cocoa absorbs more water—100% of its own weight—than flour, which absorbs just 60% of its own weight. This is due to the fact that cocoa has a high content of soluble dietary fiber."
Consumers are still having a love affair with chocolate, as its rich, indulgent taste will never go out of style. As bakers become more knowledgeable about the science behind chocolate and compound chocolate coatings, they will be better able to create the delicious baked foods that consumers demand while increasing their bottom line in the process.
PHOTO COURTESY OF GUITTARD CHOCOLATE CO.
PHOTO COURTESY OF ADM COCOA