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Food Product Design: Ingredient Insight - July 2005 - From Cacao to CocoaFood Product Design: Ingredient Insight - July 2005 - From Cacao to Cocoa

July 1, 2005

6 Min Read
Food Product Design: Ingredient Insight - July 2005 - From Cacao to Cocoa

July 2005
Publishers Page From Cacao to Cocoa
By Suanne Klahorst
Contributing Editor Cacao has been traded internationally since the Europeans discovered Aztec royalty quaffing chocolatl. Prior to that, the Aztecs used the small seeds as coins. Today, it still serves as a valuable commodity in product development. Knowing about beans
The term cacao refers to the bean of the Theobroma cacao tree, grown in tropical climates of South America, Mexico, West Africa and South Asia, after fermentation and drying. Criollo, Foraster and Tinitario are the names of the predominant cultivated species. Beans from the same species, but with different countries of origin, vary by size, moisture content and shell content. The cotyledon -- called the nib -- typically contains 54% cocoa butter, a solid fat at tropical temperatures for nature's convenience. Cocoa butter and the nib's solids, sweetened with sugar, provide the ingredients of chocolate. Cocoa-fat crystallization of gives chocolate its characteristic snap, admirable shine and resistant bite. Roasting methods and temperatures determine final flavor and color, and provide microbiological stability. This process oxidizes flavor precursors produced during fermentation by microflora in the country of origin. Then winnowing removes the nib from the shell. Nibs are ground into cocoa liquor, from which a cocoa press expresses the cocoa butter. The pressed cake that remains is the raw material of cocoa powder. Taking a powder
Cocoa specifications vary by fat content, pH levels, color, flavor and particle size. The U.S. Code of Federal Regulations, Title 21, Part 163 describes cocoa standards: "Breakfast cocoa" is not less than 22% cocoa fat, medium-fat cocoa is not less than 10%, and low-fat cocoa is less than 10%. Cocoa butter can enhance the flavor of foods. When breakfast, or medium-fat, cocoa are used at levels of 2% to 4% in premium ice creams, the presence of significant levels of cocoa butter contributes to the flavor and mouthfeel. Cocoa pH is a consideration in some baked goods, like brownies, where cocoa levels can be as high as 7%. The acidity of natural cocoa potentially interferes with the leavening system. Dutchman Coenraad Johannes van Houten developed a process, called "Dutching" in 1828, which alkalized cocoa's natural pH of 5 to 6 to a pH of 6 to 8. Dutching has been adapted to processing nibs, liquor or cocoa press cake. The majority of cocoa purchased is alkalized; however, natural cocoa is typically used for adjusting formulations where acidity contributes to a balanced, well-rounded flavor -- required in chocolate syrups or compound coatings. Alkalization can produce cocoas with red to black tones. Natural cocoa powder is light brown with a yellow cast. Blending from a selection of cocoas provides a color palette that can establish product differentiation and identity, as black cocoa has done for the Oreo®. Cocoa colors are not standardized across the industry, so colors vary with each supplier. Color consistency is evaluated by dissolving the cocoa in liquid and measuring by colorimeter or in the final product according to established standards. Most cocoa powders are milled to fine powders, which enhances dispersion of the insoluble solids in most foods. Beverages use a stabilizing system to hold the cocoa dispersion in suspension. Agglomerated cocoas and cocoa powders with added lecithin are useful for dispersion in cold water. Katy Cole, technical services manager, Gerkens Cocoa, Lititz, PA, observed these criteria for choosing a cocoa: "Consistent color and flavor are two features customers need in a cocoa. They often ask how and where the product is processed, since that determines the amount of control the manufacturer has over the consistency. I encourage product developers to establish the criteria early on for the parameters such as fineness, pH, color and flavor. These will be critical for the best overall performance in the end product." Powdered chocolate is a blend of cocoa and chocolate, with the benefits of real chocolate flavor but the convenience of a powdered ingredient. Cocoa liquor and cocoa can be blended and ground cryogenically to create a meltable, mixable powder. These products can convey a premium image in ice cream, baked goods, and other desserts and drinks. Chocolate health food
Research on the role of phytonutrients gives considerable attention to the health contributions of cocoa and chocolate. Polyphenolics, particularly the antioxidant flavonoids that contribute to the health benefits of wine, coffee and tea also occur in significant, but inconsistent, levels in cocoa and chocolate. The flavonoid antioxidants are concentrated in the solids of the cocoa press cake rather than the cocoa butter. Oxidation of the flavonoids, some of which contribute to flavor, commences when the bean is removed from the seedpod and continues during roasting. The benefits of controlling flavonoid oxidation have inspired some manufacturers to patent methods for selecting and protecting polyphenols and increasing their nutrient availability. The first retailer to introduce the concept for selling cocoa-based snacks rich in polyphenols was Mars, Inc., Hackettstown, NJ. In April 2005, Barry Callebaut, Zurich, Switzerland, announced its patented process for a high-polyphenol cocoa as a commercial food ingredient. Researchers at the University of California, Davis compared chocolate's polyphenols to red wine's antioxidants over 10 years ago. They conducted a number of studies that provide clues to cocoa's physiological effects. (View publications at http://cocoa.ucdavis.edu.) Proprietary cocoa powders that are standardized for flavonoids provide consumers with assurances that the biologically functional constituents will be consistent for chocolate products targeted for health. FDA-approved health claims or recommended daily intake levels for antioxidants or polyphenols have yet to be established. Chocolate lovers convinced of the therapeutic value of their cocoa consumption welcome the news that science might be able to confirm their belief that chocolate contributes to health. Suanne Klahorst is associate director of the California Institute of Food and Agricultural Research (CIFAR) at the University of California, Davis. CIFAR facilitates information exchange and research collaboration between the campus and extramural organizations in food, nutrition and human health. She can be contacted at [email protected].
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