Multinational food giant Mondelez has developed a method that uses calcium salt as a natural ingredient enhancer to increase the flavor profiles in chocolate, without altering its texture.
The patented process was discovered by the research and development team at Mondelez UK with the goal to improve the taste of chocolate while overcoming the disadvantages it faces in the manufacturing process such as conching.
Conching is a common process for producing chocolate and requires mechanically mixing and refining the chocolate particles until it reaches its ultimate smoothness, texture and flavor. Despite this method being essential for quality, it can take several hours which ends up increasing the overall cost of production.
As a result, manufacturers have tried to increase the temperature to speed up the conching process, but this can create an undesirable burnt flavor. To compensate, additives have been used to make for a better tasting product but can create a powdery texture in the chocolate.
To help overcome these obstacles, the team at Mondelez added calcium salt with a median particle diameter of at least 5 micrometers (μm) and less than 100 (μm) to enhance the ingredient profiles of food items without altering its texture.
The ingredients enhanced in chocolate can vary from nutty, fruity, minty, spicy, tangy, caramel, malty or a combination of all. According to Mondelez, the texture of the calcium particles was “undetectable” to a consumer eating chocolate with less than 100 (μm) added.
The findings also suggest similar measurements of calcium salt could have the potential to alter the taste perception of ingredients found in confectionery products like toffee, fudge, biscuits, sweets and gums as well as savory products like pies, potatoes and cereal-based crisps.
From confectionary baked goods to savory pastries, these products can withhold a variety of flavors, and according to the researchers, calcium salt can intensify tangy, herby, acidic, sweet, bitter, minty, vanilla, earthy, mushroom, savory, caramel and umami flavors in these products.
It can also work to enhance the salt flavor in food items with reduced salt, mimicking a similar taste to other comparable conventional food products. Mondelez further claims calcium salt as an ingredient enhancer can also reduce the amount of monosodium glutamate (MSG) in food products.
The patent process indicates calcium salt could save manufacturers time and money throughout the flavor development process. For example, reducing the time spent on conching for chocolate as well as saving manufacture money and labor on ingredients that are expensive and difficult to mix. With these benefits in mind, it will be interesting to see if manufacturers experiment with this cost-saving ingredient in future food production.