Research and Development Library

Technical Brief Library

  • All About Chocolate
  • Bean Origin

    Open or Close

    AFRICA

    West Africa is the largest producing area of cocoa beans with approximately 70% of world crop.

    Ivory Coast

    The Ivory Coast region of West Africa is the largest producer of this region. These beans tend to be high yielding and fully fermented to produce a reliable, even chocolate flavor from beginning to end. This bean is used in whole or part of a bean blend in most of the chocolate produced in the world.

    Ghana

    Ghana beans also deliver an even chocolate flavor and are known for the high yield of cocoa butter. The color of the resultant chocolate liquor is usually slightly lighter with a more yellow or orange hue than Ivory Coast.

    Cameroon

    Cameroon beans have a reputation for hammy, smokey notes that can be peppered in with the chocolate notes.

    Madagascar

    This island off the east coast of Africa can produce some very special light breaking beans with unique flavors of sour, sharp cheese and at times slightly smokey. A sought after targeted market bean.

    SOUTH AMERICA

    Ecuador

    The Ecuadorian cacao tends to be very flavorful with desired notes of brown fruit (such as raisins or figs) and red wine. It may deliver flavor notes in stages. Ecuadorian beans tend to produce darker chocolate than West African and may impart an almost purple hue to the finished product. Beans from this origin are very desirable in dark chocolates and also can be part of sophisticated milk chocolate formulas.

    Venezuela

    Different regions of this country can produce very distinctive flavors. Overall flavors can range from sour, rich tobacco, brown fruit and may at times include woodsy, forest floor notes.

    Peruvian

    Peruvian beans are known for the slightly acidic, ”bright” fruit notes such as citrus with some fresh raisin notes with some brown fruit such as prunes.

    CARIBBEAN

    Dominican Republic

    DR beans come in two distinct types – fermented (Hispaniola) and unfermented (Sanchez)

    Sanchez beans tend to have low chocolate impact due to the minimal fermentations.

    Hispaniola beans are highly coveted as producing brown fruit (raisin, prune) and rich tobacco notes which may also include some acidity reminiscent of tart cherry. A good component of dark chocolate formulations.

    Haitian

    Haitian beans tend to have low chocolate impact due to limited fermentation.

    INDONESIA

    Papua New Guinea

    PNG beans may have a tendency to be over fermented producing over ripe fruit notes that may even at times may be described as “garbagy“. These beans tend to be very pungent with sour almost vinegar notes and can venture into smokey notes. A very distinctive flavor that can be part of a bean blend that produces a high intensity punch in chocolates.

    Sulawesi and Sumatra

    Indonesian beans from these particular regions tend to have little fermentation and therefore are not known for delivering high levels of chocolate flavor. The cut test of the beans often reveals a “slatey” interior appearance which indicates this low fermentation and also can produce a somewhat grey hue when made into chocolate liquor.

    Java

    Java A grade beans are very special in their very light, pale yellow hue. The flavor is also unique with some slightly acidic sour notes and an almost sharp cheddar cheese note that can be accompanied by hammy, smokey notes. This bean is highly sought after for applications of producing some very light chocolates that appeal to a very targeted demographic.


  • Chocolate: Bean to Bar

    Open or Close

    On the farm

    Chocolate bars start out as beans, and those beans begin as a tree: the theobroma cacao tree. These trees grow 20° north and south of the equator. Approximately 70% of the world’s crop of cocoa beans comes from West Africa. It takes 5-8 years for a tree to reach maturity and grow usable pods. These pods each contain 20- 50 beans which are coated in a white fruit, called mucilage. The pods are harvested by hand twice a year. The pods are left for a few days to cure before being split open, also by hand.

    Once removed from the pods, the beans, coated in mucilage, are placed in heaps or boxes to ferment. Over several days, the bacteria and yeasts which were naturally present on the pods go to work on the beans. Fermentation is a very important step in turning cocoa beans into chocolate. It helps to remove the mucilage from around the beans, kills the bean so that it cannot germinate, and allows for enzymatic reactions necessary for flavor development.

    Next the beans are dried. This is most often done by spreading the fermented beans out in the sun. This step removes water so that the beans can be safely transported without spoiling. The beans are put onto the holds of boats and shipped to the United States.

    In the factory

    Once the beans reach a chocolate factory, they are cleaned to remove any foreign material, and then they are roasted. Roasting makes the beans safe to eat by killing any bacteria on them. More importantly, roasting is essential to flavor development. Once they are roasted, the beans are winnowed. “Winnowing” refers to the process in which the beans are cracked and the inedible shell portion of the bean is removed, leaving only the edible portion, or nib.

    The next step is grinding the nibs into chocolate liquor. Grinding releases the fat naturally present in the cocoa beans, known as cocoa butter. The heat generated the process liquefies this fat. While warm, chocolate liquor remains a liquid.

    At this point, the liquor may be pressed. Pressing separates the cocoa butter from the cocoa solids, creating cocoa powder. Cocoa powder is made from grinding the resulting cake, and contains about 10-12% fat. The pressing process results in approximately equal portions of cocoa powder and cocoa butter. Cocoa powder is used in many applications, including beverages, bakery items, and compound coatings. Cocoa butter can be used in pharmaceutical and beauty products, and is used to make white chocolate. White chocolate contains no cocoa mass, only cocoa butter which is combined with milk, sugar, vanilla, and lecithin (an emulsifier). Cocoa butter also goes into most chocolate, since there isn’t enough cocoa butter present in the liquor to make a smooth, pleasant chocolate.

    Now that the liquor has been ground sugar and dried milk (in the case of milk chocolate) are added. This resulting paste is now refined. Refining crushes all the pieces into small uniform particles.

    It now goes to the conche. Here additional cocoa butter is added, as well as lecithin and flavor. The product is kept warm and mixed or kneaded for several hours. This is known as conching, and important step in improving the eating quality of chocolate. It allows any off flavors to be released. It also distributes the cocoa butter evenly between all of the particles, which gives the chocolate a smoother, creamier mouthfeel.

    The chocolate must now be tempered. Tempering means heating and cooling the chocolate to specific temperatures in order to promote correct crystal formation. This is essential so that once the chocolate is formed it is smooth and shiny. The tempered chocolate is deposited into bars.


  • Fat and Sugar Bloom

    Open or Close

    FAT BLOOM IN CHOCOLATE

    What is Fat Bloom?

    It is characterized by a dull white/grey layer that appears on the outer surface of solid chocolate in storage and is fat that has crystalized on the surface of the chocolate. When touched with the finger, the surface feels greasy and can temporarily disappear by rubbing. The heat generated from rubbing is directly melting the fat on the surface. Fat bloom impacts flavor and textural qualities of chocolate and negatively impacts the shelf life of finished products made with chocolate.

    What Causes Fat Bloom?

    There are several reasons fat bloom may occur; first, incorrect usage temperatures of the chocolate or incorrect tempering protocol is employed. Other potential causes are: improper cooling times or temperatures, storage or shipping conditions are too warm or too cold, dirty product molds or equipment used during chocolate application, or there is excessive manual handling of the finished chocolate. Centers may also be a cause of fat bloom; they may not be at he appropriate temperature or contain a fat incompatible with cocoa butter (nut, vegetable, palm, palm kernel, coconut and soybean oils).

    How to Prevent Fat Bloom in Your Product

    Ensure a proper tempering protocol is in place withconstant validation of temper (see the “Tempering Chocolate” brief in the Research and Development Library on Blommer.com for proper tempering methods). Understand finished product formulation and ingredient interactions and ensure proper handling and storage of finished products.

    SUGAR BLOOM IN CHOCOLATE

    What is Sugar Bloom?

    Moisture settles on the surface of chocolate and dissolves the sugar in the chocolate. Once this dries, the sugar recrystallizes on the surface of the chocolate leaving a white/grey or mottled appearance. When touched with the finger, the surface of the chocolate feels grainy and dry (i.e. sandy texture).

    What Causes Sugar Bloom?

    It can be caused by storage in damp conditions, high relative humidity (%RH), large changes in storage temperatures (which then causes condensation on the surface), and excessive humidity in cooling tunnel.

    How to Prevent Sugar Bloom in Your Facility

    Understand dew point in processing lines and temperature differentials in storage conditions, control relative humidity in processing and storage areas, understanding “freeze to thaw” protocol and associate temperatures.


  • Chocolate vs Compound

    Open or Close

    Chocolate

    Chocolate is derived from the cocoa plant. It is mandated by law to follow a specific recipe or standard of identity. This can be found in 21CFR163. The ingredients and quantities required can be summarized in the following:

    • Sweet Dark Chocolate: must contain greater than 15% chocolate liquor, less than 12% milk solids, and less than 1% emulsifier. Optional ingredients include sugar, flavoring, and additional cocoa butter.
    • Semi-Sweet or Bittersweet Dark Chocolate: must contain greater than 35% chocolate liquor, less than 12% milk solids, and less than 1% emulsifier. Optional ingredients include sugar, flavoring, and additional cocoa butter.
    • Milk Chocolate: must contain greater than 10% chocolate liquor, greater than 12% milk solids, greater than 3.39% milk fat, and less than 1% emulsifier. Optional ingredients include sugar, flavoring, and additional cocoa butter.
    • White Chocolate: Must contain less than 55% sugar, greater than 20% cocoa fat, greater than 14% total milk, of which 3.5% or more must be milk fat, less than 5% whey products, and less than 1.5% emulsifier. Optional ingredients include vanilla.

    While only milk and dark chocolates must contain chocolate liquor, all chocolate including white chocolate must contain cocoa butter. Cocoa butter is a special fat. In order to retain good sensory qualities, including snap, mouthfeel, and gloss, it must be tempered.

    Compound

    If chocolate does not meet the above standard of identity, it must be referred to as compound coating.

    Compound coating, also known as confectionary coating, is a mixture of sugar, vegetable fat, cocoa powder (in the case of chocolate flavored coating), lecithin, and flavor. Compound coating can also refer to a chocolate to which ingredients not included in the CFR have been added.

    The ability to use different fats means that compound coating can have many different textures and be used in many different applications- from ‘chips’ in cookies to the coating on ice cream bars.

    Chocolate and compound coatings are manufactured in a similar way. When comparing a chocolate to a compound coating, sometimes it may be difficult to taste the difference. The main difference between chocolate and compound coating is the fat- cocoa butter vs. alternate vegetable fat. Compound coating does not need to be tempered, and therefore is more versatile to different temperatures and applications. Also, because there aren’t as many guidelines regarding ingredients, compound coatings can be fortified, colored, or flavored with just about anything, leading to endless possibilities.


  • Cooling Tunnels and Storage Temperatures

    Open or Close

    Cooling Tunnels

    Once coatings are tempered and used in an application, the remaining heat left in the coating must be removed properly to ensure that the product maintains its temper and forms the correct crystal structure. The cooling tunnel and the temperatures used are critical in achieving an ideal appearance for the final product and are dependent on the type of coating and equipment used.

    The crystallization behaviors of cocoa butter and vegetable oils are so different that chocolate and compound coatings require different temperatures for the cooling tunnel process. To promote the growth of stable crystals and prevent bloom, tempered chocolate requires gentle cooling conditions. Cooling the coating too fast could produce pores or hair cracks on the surface along with unstable crystals, while cooling too slowly can enhance bloom. Unlike chocolate products, compounds made with fractionated oils prefer a quick “cold shock” of cold temperatures when entering the cooling tunnel as they are more likely to crystallize in a stable form spontaneously. Compounds made with hydrogenated oils perform better when cooled at slightly higher temperatures than fractionated oils. Table 1 below shows ranges of typical suggested temperatures for the different cooling tunnel zones.

    There are different types of cooling tunnels, but multi-zone type tunnels are the best for chocolate and compound coatings as they allow more controlled conditions for optimal cooling and crystal formation. When product enters the cooling tunnel, crystallization is still taking place. The first stage of the cooling tunnel allows the heat from the core to escape and typically requires mild air flow. The middle zone requires moderate air flow and further cools and completely solidifies the product. The third or last zone (depending on the cooling tunnel) still cools the product while also increasing the temperature above that of the dew point of the packaging room. If the exit temperature of the product is below the dew point of the room, the humidity from the environment could condense on the surface of the coating potentially resulting in drying marks or sugar bloom.

    Table 1: Cooling Tunnel Parameters

      Zone 1 Zone 2 zone 3
    Chocolate 60-65°F 45-50°F 60-65°F
    Compounds with Fractionated Oil 40-45°F 39-43°F 55-65°F
    Compounds with Hydrogenated Oil 50-55°F 40-45°F 55-65°F

    Data in this table will vary based on the coating and equipment used, length and air flow of the cooling tunnel.

    Storage

    Ideal storage conditions for finished products are in dry odor free environments away from direct sources of light or sunlight and around 60-70°F with relative humidity around 60% or less. It is not recommended to store chocolate or compounds in the refrigerator or freezer as moisture will negatively affect the coatings, however you can as long as you follow correct thawing procedures. When freezing coatings the main concern is keeping moisture away, especially when they are removed from the freezer. To minimize the amount of condensation, it is best to bring the product to room temperature very slowly and allow space in between the cartons so air can circulate. Fans can also be used to assist in evaporating and carrying away the moisture.


  • Chocolate Dictionary

    Open or Close

    Bean to Bar

    Origin - The country or geographic region in which cacao is grown.
    Cacao - The botanical origin of chocolate. Used when referring to the trees, pods, and beans up until the beginning of chocolate manufacture.
    Pod - The fruit, born by the cacao tree, from which cacao beans are harvested.
    Bean - The seeds harvested from cacao pods.
    Nib - Refers to the center of the cacao bean, once they have been cracked and hulls removed.
    Chocolate Liquor - Finely ground nibs. Containing approximately 50% cocoa butter, it is liquid when heated. Does not contain alcohol.
    Paste - The mixture of dry ingredients and fat or liquor for chocolate manufacture before refining.
    Flake - The mixture of dry ingredients and fat or liquor for chocolate manufacture after refining.

    Types of Chocolate

    Semi-Sweet - Legally defined (in the CFR) as containing greater than 35% chocolate liquor, less than 12% milk solids, and less than 1% emulsifier. Optional ingredients include sugar, flavoring, and additional cocoa butter.
    Sweet Dark - Legally defined (in the CFR) as containing greater than 15% chocolate liquor, less than 12% milk solids, and less than 1% emulsifier. Optional ingredients include sugar, flavoring, and additional cocoa butter.
    Bittersweet - Legal definition is the same as semi-sweet dark chocolate. Consumer perception is generally that bittersweet chocolate has a higher cocoa mass (>50%).
    Milk - Legally defined (in the CFR) as containing greater than 10% chocolate liquor, greater than 12% milk solids, greater than 3.39% milk fat, and less than 1% emulsifier. Optional ingredients include sugar, flavoring, and additional cocoa butter.
    Dark - See sweet dark.
    White - Legally defined (in the CFR) as containing less than 55% sugar, greater than 20% cocoa fat, greater than 14% total milk, of which 3.5% or more must be milk fat, less than 5% whey products, and less than 1.5% emulsifier. Optional ingredients include vanilla.
    Cocoa Mass - The total percentage of ingredients derived from the cocoa bean, which includes chocolate liquor and cocoa butter. Also sometimes labeled as “% Cacao” or “%CM”
    Compound Coating - A product similar to chocolate made using vegetable fats instead of cocoa butter. Generally does not require tempering.
    Confectionery Coating - See compound coating.
    Coating - See compound coating.
    Couverture - Culinary term referring to fine grade chocolate containing a high percentage of cocoa butter, and a low viscosity ideal for fine pastry applications.

    Chocolate Production

    Conche - A special mixing and kneading step unique to fine chocolate manufacture. Helps to remove off flavors and develop complex caramelized notes.
    Refine - To break down the solid components of chocolate or compound (sugar, milk powders, cocoa solids, etc.) to achieve the desired particle size.
    Stabilize - To achieve the desired viscosity of chocolate or compound via the addition of fats and emulsifiers while mixing.
    Winnow - To remove the outer shell or hull from dried cacao beans. This process transforms beans in to nibs.

    Tempering

    Temper - To heat and cool chocolate to specific temperatures in order to promote a particular crystal structure which results in finished chocolate products showing good gloss, contraction/mould release, and a lack of bloom.
    Seed - Properly tempered chocolate used to initiate appropriate crystal structure during a tempering process.
    Fat Bloom - White or off-white discoloration on the surface of chocolate and compound products. Can be caused by either fat or sugar. Sugar bloom results from effects of condensation and is more rough in feel versus oily.
    Polymorphic - Refers to crystals (in this case fat crystals) that can form in multiple arrangements.

    Viscosity

    Non-Newtonian - Not exhibiting a linear relationship between rate of shearing and shearing stress.
    Viscosity - A measurement of a fluid's resistance to flow. A lower viscosity means a thinner product. The methods for testing viscosity in chocolate are Brookfield and NCA.
    Apparent Viscosity - Viscosity at a particular shear rate.
    Plastic Viscosity - Shear stress required to maintain constant flow.
    Yield Value - Shear stress required to initiate flow.

    Applications

    Ganache - An emulsion of chocolate with liquid, traditionally cream. Traditionally used as an icing, sauce, or truffle center.
    Truffle - Chocolate confection typically consisting of a ganache, with or without a chocolate coating. Not to be confused with its namesake fungus.

    Cocoa

    Alkalized - Treated with caustic in order to alter the color, flavor, and pH. Refers to cocoa powders. Also known as 'Dutched'.
    Dutched or Dutch Process - See alkalized.

    Antioxidants

    Theobromine - A compound found in chocolate, chemically similar to caffeine, responsible for chocolate's stimulant qualities.
    Antioxidant - Molecules that inhibit the oxidation of other molecules. Measured by ORAC. The group of antioxidants found in chocolate are known as flavonoids.
    Flavonoid - The group of antioxidants found in chocolate.

    Certifications

    Kosher - Foods that conform to Jewish dietary law. For packaged foodstuffs to carry a Kosher claim, they must be certified by a Kosher Certifying Agency.
    Organic - Produced using organic farming methods. For packaged foodstuffs to carry an Organic claim, the must be certified by the USDA.
    Rainforest Alliance Certified (RAC) - Produced using organic farming methods. For packaged foodstuffs to carry an Organic claim, the must be certified by the USDA.
    Sustainable Origins - Blommer’s unique opportunity for our customers to develop their own Sustainability Program. Learn more.
    Fair Trade - An outside certifying body, Fair Trade helps build long-term and stable relationships between farmers and chocolate manufacturers resulting in reliable, high-quality cocoa. This is mass balance and applies to other raw materials in the chocolate (sugar, vanilla) as well as the cocoa beans.
    UTZ - A program and label for sustainable farming worldwide. This is mass balance.
    RSPO - A certifying body for mass balance, sustainable palm oil.


  • Ganache

    Open or Close

    Ganache is an emulsion of chocolate with liquid, traditionally cream. It may include additional ingredients which provide additional functionality such as mouthfeel (butter), shelf life (corn syrup, glucose, etc.), or flavorings.

    Ganache is traditionally made by bringing cream with any sugar ingredients (corn syrup, etc.) to a boil, pouring it over finely chopped chocolate, and then emulsifying the mixture with a whisk or immersion blender, being careful not to incorporate air. It can also be made by warming cream and mixing the cream with melted, tempered chocolate. The ganache made from tempered chocolate will set more quickly than the boiled cream method.

    By varying the ratio of chocolate to liquid, one can create a ganache that is firmer or softer, depending on the application. Applications for ganache range from sauce (softer) to hand rolled truffles (firmer). The perfect ratio will depend upon the chocolate you are using and the desired end texture for your application.

    Suggested starting ratios for ganache with heavy cream:

    Type of Ganache Type of Chocolate Cream to Chocolate Ratio
    Soft ganache
    (sauce, cake coating, moulded truffles)
    Dark 1:1
    Milk & White 1:1.5
    Firm Ganache(hand rolled truffles) Dark 1:2
    Milk & White 1:2.5

     

    Compound coatings can be used to create ganache as well. One will need to experiment
    in order to determine exact ratios of coating to cream for the desired application, as it
    will differ based upon the coating being used. Generally speaking, the compound-based
    ganache will require less cream. The texture of the final ganache once set may also be
    stickier than one expects from chocolate-based ganache. For this reason, if one desires to
    create a less brittle coating for a cake than straight compound coating, a mixture of soybean
    oil with the coating is suggested as an alternative to a poured ganache.


  • Case Study - Pretzel Cracking Experiment

    Open or Close

    A study of preventing cracking in the outer chocolate shell

    Introduction

    At Blommer Chocolate, we have had different inquires about suggestions regarding preventing chocolate coating from cracking on the outside of enrobed pretzels. We suspect that pretzel cracking can shorten a product’s shelf life as well as ruin the aesthetics of the package. We’ve conducted two different studies to determine if we could help find a solution. In both studies, we prepared chocolate with different levels of milkfat in various types of chocolate. Milkfat makes chocolate softer and more pliable. Our thoughts were that it would help the chocolate resist cracking as well. We also wanted to test whether sealed (“new”) pretzels would yield any different results than opened (“old”) pretzels. Some suggest that opening the pretzels the day before they are enrobed might help them to absorb a little moisture and equilibrate to the environment. This early abruption of moisture might help resist cracking since the pretzels have already expanded.

    Experiment

    We created a milk chocolate formula and a sugar free milk chocolate flavored coating formula with various levels of milkfat. We then enrobed three ring pretzels, both “new” sealed pretzels and previously opened “old” pretzels, in these chocolates as well as peanut butter filled pretzel nuggets. After the pretzels were enrobed and cooled, we packaged them in sealed bags and stored then in a 65° F warehouse. Once a week for nine weeks, the pretzels were evaluated and the number of cracked pretzels were counted.

    Discussion

    Higher milk fat seems to prevent blooming on PB filled pretzels and the peanut butter appears to have a protective effect on cracking. Higher milk fat prevents cracking on three-hole pretzels in both milk chocolate and sugar free coated pretzels; the general trend was the higher the milk fat, the fewer cracks. Allowing the pretzels to equilibrate to the environment does have a protective effect over cracking; “old” pretzels were about half as likely to crack as “new” pretzels. While every customer has specific needs and ingredients, these are a few troubleshooting tactics that we have been able to study to aid with formulations.


  • Tempering Chocolate

    Open or Close

    The tempering of chocolate can be defined as the time-temperature process used to manipulate fat to develop the correct fat crystal type and size. The result is a product with better heat resistance, touch stability, glossy appearance, snap and release from moulding versus poor or non-tempered chocolate. Additionally, poorly tempered chocolate can form a white powdery substance called fat bloom.

    We at Blommer also understand that tempering encompasses both skill and science. This information should be used as a guide for tempering chocolate, but each formulation is different and therefore parameters need to be created for each product.

    Triglycerides

    Cocoa Butter is comprised of various triglycerides, but mainly they are stearic-oleic-stearic (SOS), stearic-oleic-palmitic (SOP) and palmitic-oleic-palmitic (POP). Composition varies based on growing location with origins closer to the equator contain higher levels of saturated fat which will lead to harder cocoa butter.

    The most important aspect of tempering is the packing of the triglycerides into crystalline structure. In total there are 6 different crystal structures, but we are mainly concerned with alpha, beta prime and beta. Each structure is created at different temperatures, but formation of beta crystals are most desired. Its these beta crystals that will act as building blocks we want to replicate during tempering because they produce a more heat stable product. They have a melt point of about 93° F. They pack tighter and the result is a product with good contraction. Additionally the quantity and size of the crystal is very important. Too many crystals or "seeds" can result in product that is over-tempered and not as shiny. Under-tempered product lack the amount of crystals and it may take too long to set up if at all. crystals formed during tempering the better compacting of the crystals results in a better snap and contraction.

    There are many different ways to temper chocolate, but the end goal is always the same- create the correct crystals (beta) in the correct size and quantity. The following will describe a couple of different methods to temper both milk and dark chocolate. It’s important to realize that milk chocolate has a higher level of milk fat to contribute to the overall fat matrix. We recommend cooling and reheating milk chocolates 1.0-2.0°F lower than dark chocolates to compensate for this difference. Milk fat is somewhat liquid at room temperature and thus lowers the melt point of the product.

    Chunk Method

    The first method is known as the Chunk Method. Equipment needed for this is a melter with agitator and temperature controls and a hand held thermometer.

    1. Chop or break chocolate into small chunks and place into the empty mixer.
    2. Turn on the heating element and agitator on the melter. Allow the mass to melt and mix and check the temperature of the chocolate frequently reaches it reaches 115- 120° F.
    3. Continue to agitate and turn off the heater on the unit. Start adding large chunks of already tempered chocolate (it's important that the seed chocolate is well tempered) into the melted chocolate. Stir the chunks into the chocolate until the temperature reaches about 89° F for Dark Chocolate and 87-88o F for Milk Chocolate (add more if everything melts and temperature isn't where it needs to be). Remove the unmelted chunks for future use.
    4. If after you remove the chunks from the chocolate the temperature goes above 92° F you will need to go through the entire process again. If the product becomes too thick you can either add liquid chocolate (115-120° F chocolate), but the temperature must not go above 92° F.
    5. At this point you can apply the chocolate in the desired method. Its recommended not to coat products that are above 70° F because you can “lock in” the heat and de-temper the chocolate.

    Automated Tempering Method

    Another common method is the Automated Tempering Method. Most industrial users of chocolate incorporate use of tempering machines that continuously temper chocolate without additional tempered blocks. This can also be done without an automatic tempering unit. The only difference in the equipment needed above is that the melter will need to be heated as well as cooled.

    1. Heat and agitate the mass of chocolate to 115-120° F.
    2. Rapidly cool the dark chocolate to 82-84° F and milk chocolate to 80-81 or 82° F. Continue to agitate during the process.
    3. Reheat the dark chocolate to 87-89° F and milk chocolate to 86-88° F.
    4. If the product becomes too thick you can either add liquid chocolate or warm the chocolate, but the temperature must not go above 92° F.
    5. At this point you can apply the chocolate in the desired method. It’s recommended not to coat products that are above 70° F because you can “lock in” the heat and de-temper the chocolate.

    Cooling the Chocolate

    Cooling of the chocolate is another important aspect in tempering. It should be done gradually as to not shock the chocolate. Shocking can cause the wrong cocoa butter crystal to replicate and the finished product will not have the same qualities as stated above. Most systems incorporate a cooling tunnel and should be set up as such.

    The beginning of the cooling tunnel should have low air velocity on the product and temperatures in the range of 65° F. The second zone will typically be in the 45° F temperature range with more air being blown on the product. The third zone should be higher (65-68° F) to prevent condensation on the finished product.

    The other important piece is the dwell time of the product in the cooling process. The amount of required cooling time is dictated by the quantity being cooled and it can be in the range of 10-30 minutes. Finally, it can take chocolate 24 to 48 hours to full solidify so the way the product is packaged and stored needs to be considered.


  • Viscosity

    Open or Close

    Viscosity is a measurement of a fluid’s resistance to flow. It is a quantity expressing the magnitude of friction between particles which are moving at different velocities. Viscosity is very important because it directly affects chocolate utility in certain applications. In order to achieve certain quality parameters, chocolate or confectionery coating products must have specific flow properties. In general, lower viscosity samples are ideal for dipping/enrobing applications in which a thin layer of coating is desired for flavor or economical purposes. Higher viscosity samples are ideal for molding applications in which it is important for the sample to maintain its shape.

    At Blommer Chocolate, viscosity is measured using a Brookfield Viscometer (Model HATDV-I, HATDV-II, DV-III Plus) using specific parameters. The data gathered using this instrument is considered “Brookfield value” and while this unit is used frequently throughout the industry, it can be converted to other units (NCA and centipoise).

    Viscosity can be characterized by three measurements: apparent viscosity, yield value, and plastic viscosity.

    Apparent Viscosity

    • Definition: The viscosity at a particular shear rate (20 RPM), measured at a standardized temperature (40°C for chocolate and 50°C for confectionery coating)
    • Apparent viscosity is a relative measurement used as a singular data point throughout the confectionery industry.

    In application, the chocolate may be utilized with different shear rates. Chocolate is shear thinning, which means the viscosity decreases as the rate of shear increases. Therefore, to get a more complete picture of the product, viscosity is measured at multiple shear speeds. This allows us to calculate the other two important viscosity measurements: yield value and plastic viscosity.

    Yield Value

    • Definition: The shear stress required to initiate flow of chocolate and relates to the coating or decorating characteristics, such as thickness.
    • Impact on Chocolate: Higher yield value leads to a product which resists flow and thus would be utilized well for something like a chocolate drop.

    Figure 1 A visualization of different relative levels of yield values from high (left) to low (right)

    Plastic Viscosity

    • Definition: Function of the shear stress required to maintain constant flow.
    • Impact on Chocolate: Determines how well the chocolate will flow into a mold.

    Figure 2: Viscosity related to application usage in chocolate confectionery industry

    Critical Parameters Which Impact Viscosity

    • Temperature
    • Melting point (of oils in sample)
    • Temper state (over vs. under)
    • Total fat
    • Fat with unique crystallizing structures
    • Particle size/distribution
    • Degree of lecithination
    • Moisture
    • Heat Sensitive ingredients
    • Emulsifier

    Why Does Viscosity Matter for Chocolate Products?

    In order for certain applications to function properly, a specific viscosity is often needed. If a product has a viscosity that is too high or too low, it can cause issues with production and affect quality of the application. Viscosity can also have an economic impact by influencing the amount of coverage on a product. With proper understanding, the property of viscosity can be utilized to create a superior product, whether it be molded, enrobed, or drizzled.


  • All About Compound
  • Chocolate vs Compound

    Open or Close

    Chocolate

    Chocolate is derived from the cocoa plant. It is mandated by law to follow a specific recipe or standard of identity. This can be found in 21CFR163. The ingredients and quantities required can be summarized in the following:

    • Sweet Dark Chocolate: must contain greater than 15% chocolate liquor, less than 12% milk solids, and less than 1% emulsifier. Optional ingredients include sugar, flavoring, and additional cocoa butter.
    • Semi-Sweet or Bittersweet Dark Chocolate: must contain greater than 35% chocolate liquor, less than 12% milk solids, and less than 1% emulsifier. Optional ingredients include sugar, flavoring, and additional cocoa butter.
    • Milk Chocolate: must contain greater than 10% chocolate liquor, greater than 12% milk solids, greater than 3.39% milk fat, and less than 1% emulsifier. Optional ingredients include sugar, flavoring, and additional cocoa butter.
    • White Chocolate: Must contain less than 55% sugar, greater than 20% cocoa fat, greater than 14% total milk, of which 3.5% or more must be milk fat, less than 5% whey products, and less than 1.5% emulsifier. Optional ingredients include vanilla.

    While only milk and dark chocolates must contain chocolate liquor, all chocolate including white chocolate must contain cocoa butter. Cocoa butter is a special fat. In order to retain good sensory qualities, including snap, mouthfeel, and gloss, it must be tempered.

    Compound

    If chocolate does not meet the above standard of identity, it must be referred to as compound coating.

    Compound coating, also known as confectionary coating, is a mixture of sugar, vegetable fat, cocoa powder (in the case of chocolate flavored coating), lecithin, and flavor. Compound coating can also refer to a chocolate to which ingredients not included in the CFR have been added.

    The ability to use different fats means that compound coating can have many different textures and be used in many different applications- from ‘chips’ in cookies to the coating on ice cream bars.

    Chocolate and compound coatings are manufactured in a similar way. When comparing a chocolate to a compound coating, sometimes it may be difficult to taste the difference. The main difference between chocolate and compound coating is the fat- cocoa butter vs. alternate vegetable fat. Compound coating does not need to be tempered, and therefore is more versatile to different temperatures and applications. Also, because there aren’t as many guidelines regarding ingredients, compound coatings can be fortified, colored, or flavored with just about anything, leading to endless possibilities.


  • Applications in Compound Coatings

    Open or Close

    Compound coatings can be used in a variety of applications including, but not limited to enrobing, moulding, panning, and as chips or inclusions. Although each coating is different, this fact sheet will explain general recommendations for using and storing compound coatings, as well as a few common issues in application and how to avoid them.

    Melting and Application

    Generally speaking, compound coatings do not need to be tempered (although there are some exceptions). Compound coatings, particularly those with fractionated oils, are susceptible to bloom. Following appropriate temperatures for melting, cooling, application, and storage is the only way to avoid bloom. They must be carefully and fully melted to 10-15°F above their melt point and then brought down to 3-5°F above the melting point of the oil in the compound for use. For example, a coating with a melt point of approximately 95°F should be applied at 98-100°F.

    Cooling

    Compound coatings should then be cooled via cooling tunnel. Temperatures less than 60°F are recommended. Compounds made with fractionated oils should be shock cooled at the coldest temperature possible, while compounds made with hydrogenated oils are more robust and can be effectively cooled at slightly higher temperatures. Therefore, a coating with hydrogenated fat is recommended for situations where cooling profile is an issue.

    Storage

    Because they do not need to maintain temper, moulded or enrobed compound coating products can be more tolerant to temperature fluctuations. This tolerance is of course dependent on the properties of each specific coating, including melt point. However, all compound coatings should ideally still be stored around room temperature, and should not see prolonged exposure to temperatures over 75°F without risk of bloom. We recommend that our products are stored at 60- 70°F and no more than 60% relative humidity.

    Other Applications

    Compound coating drops make excellent inclusions which offer a variety of flavor and texture profiles. There are no special considerations that need to be taken when substituting compound coating drops for chocolate drops in a recipe. Compound coating can be used for ganache, however the ratio of liquid to compound will need to be altered from typical chocolate formulas.

    Compounds and Water

    Compound coatings, like chocolate, are not compatible with water. Working with compounds in high humidity environments can lead to seizing (in melted compound) or sugar bloom (in solid pieces). Compounds cannot be ‘thinned out’ via the addition of water; they will actually become thicker. Dry cleaning or thorough flushing with oil after wet cleaning is recommended for lines where compounds are used.

    Fat Incompatibility

    When different fats are mixed (such as palm kernel oil and cocoa butter) it can cause issues such as softening and bloom. Care must be taken in formulating products where fats will be interacting in order to avoid shelf life issues. For example, a peanut butter candy center may require a thicker layer when enrobing than a peppermint fondant center.


  • Cooling Tunnels and Storage Temperatures

    Open or Close

    Cooling Tunnels

    Once coatings are tempered and used in an application, the remaining heat left in the coating must be removed properly to ensure that the product maintains its temper and forms the correct crystal structure. The cooling tunnel and the temperatures used are critical in achieving an ideal appearance for the final product and are dependent on the type of coating and equipment used.

    The crystallization behaviors of cocoa butter and vegetable oils are so different that chocolate and compound coatings require different temperatures for the cooling tunnel process. To promote the growth of stable crystals and prevent bloom, tempered chocolate requires gentle cooling conditions. Cooling the coating too fast could produce pores or hair cracks on the surface along with unstable crystals, while cooling too slowly can enhance bloom. Unlike chocolate products, compounds made with fractionated oils prefer a quick “cold shock” of cold temperatures when entering the cooling tunnel as they are more likely to crystallize in a stable form spontaneously. Compounds made with hydrogenated oils perform better when cooled at slightly higher temperatures than fractionated oils. Table 1 below shows ranges of typical suggested temperatures for the different cooling tunnel zones.

    There are different types of cooling tunnels, but multi-zone type tunnels are the best for chocolate and compound coatings as they allow more controlled conditions for optimal cooling and crystal formation. When product enters the cooling tunnel, crystallization is still taking place. The first stage of the cooling tunnel allows the heat from the core to escape and typically requires mild air flow. The middle zone requires moderate air flow and further cools and completely solidifies the product. The third or last zone (depending on the cooling tunnel) still cools the product while also increasing the temperature above that of the dew point of the packaging room. If the exit temperature of the product is below the dew point of the room, the humidity from the environment could condense on the surface of the coating potentially resulting in drying marks or sugar bloom.

    Table 1: Cooling Tunnel Parameters

      Zone 1 Zone 2 zone 3
    Chocolate 60-65°F 45-50°F 60-65°F
    Compounds with Fractionated Oil 40-45°F 39-43°F 55-65°F
    Compounds with Hydrogenated Oil 50-55°F 40-45°F 55-65°F

    Data in this table will vary based on the coating and equipment used, length and air flow of the cooling tunnel.

    Storage

    Ideal storage conditions for finished products are in dry odor free environments away from direct sources of light or sunlight and around 60-70°F with relative humidity around 60% or less. It is not recommended to store chocolate or compounds in the refrigerator or freezer as moisture will negatively affect the coatings, however you can as long as you follow correct thawing procedures. When freezing coatings the main concern is keeping moisture away, especially when they are removed from the freezer. To minimize the amount of condensation, it is best to bring the product to room temperature very slowly and allow space in between the cartons so air can circulate. Fans can also be used to assist in evaporating and carrying away the moisture.


  • Yogurt Flavored Confectionery Coating

    Open or Close

    As we all see on TV, trade publications and word of mouth yogurt is still very popular. We continue to see people trying to incorporate yogurt into just about everything including confections.

    We offer a number of Yogurt Flavored Confectionery Coatings manufactured at three of our locations. Each formulation is developed for a specific application and flavor profile. Over the years our list of yogurt flavored coatings has increased based on trends and ingredient availability. We use various yogurt powders with each one having a different flavor profile and containing different ingredients such as cultured nonfat milk powder, whey protein concentrate, yogurt cultures, cultured whey and lactic acid.

    The FDA has a standard of identity for yogurt (21 CFR 131.200, 203 or 206), but not one for yogurt powder. In general there are 2 types of yogurt powders. They include those that meet the standard of identity prior to drying and blended dairy mixes. The first group is made from yogurt, but requires a drying process to reduced moisture thus causing them to not contain live and active cultures and why they cannot be called yogurt. They do, however, contain other nutrients and the flavor of the yogurt. The second group is often just a mixture of milk ingredients to mimic the yogurt flavor.

    Most recently the yogurt industry has been changed by the addition of Greek Yogurt. There is no current FDA regulation on what Greek Yogurt is, but it is characterized by a thick creamy yogurt with tart flavor and a higher level of protein. We can also provide Greek Yogurt Style Flavored Yogurt Coatings that have yogurt powders that mimic its flavor and nutritional profile or actual spray dried Greek Yogurt.

    We recommend labeling products as Yogurt Flavored Confectionery Coating. Some will go as far as calling out that the yogurt is pasteurized after culturing or heat treated to further demonstrate that no live active cultures exist.

    If you have additional questions, need additional technical support or would like a sample of Yogurt Flavored Coating please contact your sales representative or Technical Services at 1-800-621-1606.


  • All About Cocoa Powder
  • Converting High Fat Cocoa to 10/12 Cocoa

    Open or Close

    We have successfully converted higher fat cocoas to standard cocoas in ice cream and bakery formulations. This switch can be a source of cost savings that does not result in a significantly different flavor profile or texture. The following calculations are a guide for modifying a formula in order to make the change from high-fat to standard cocoas. These calculations are to be used on a formula in percentages adding up to 100%. This is a guide to be used as a starting point. Adjustments may be necessary based on your application.

    Step 1: Because there is less fat present, there is a higher concentration of cocoa solids in standard cocoa. Therefore, to convert from high fat to standard fat cocoas, one must decrease the amount of cocoa accordingly.

    For 15/17 to 10/12: Current % * 0.944 = new cocoa
    For 22/24 to 10/12: Current % * 0.865 = new cocoa %

    This is the new percentage of cocoa to be used in the formula. It will always be less cocoa than was present before.

    Step 2: Depending on the recipe, one may also want to increase the fat present in the formula. This is suggested for baked goods in particular, but may not be necessary depending on the amount of cocoa present and the other ingredients in the formula. This calculation is the same for 15/17 and 22/24 cocoas.

    Current % cocoa – New % Cocoa = Additional Fat %
    Ex: 7.00-6.61 = 0.39


    This number must be added to the fat present in the formula (shortening, oil, etc.). If the fat present in the formula is butter, proceed to step 3. If not, you can stop here. Your formula shouldstill add up to 100%, and contain more fat and less cocoa than your previous formula containing high-fat cocoa.

    Step 3: If the fat in the formula is butter, and your formula is quite sensitive to changes in fat and moisture, or the amount of cocoa in the formula is quite large, additional calculations may need to be completed. Since butter is approximately 80% fat and 15% water, one must increase the totalbr> amount of butter being added and decrease the water accordingly.

    Additional Fat %/ 0.8 = Additional Butter %
    Ex: 0.39/0.8 = 0.49

    This number must be added to the butter present in the formula (instead of the value calculated in step 2, above).


    Additional Butter % * 0.15 = water decrease

    This number must be subtracted from the water percentage in the formula (given that there is
    water present in the formula).


  • Selecting the Right Cocoa for your Application

    Open or Close

    Cocoa powder is used in a formulation to deliver a particular color and/or flavor. One cocoa may not perform the same in every application. When selecting a cocoa powder it is best to work with the supplier to divulge your objectives and final application. What is the most important attribute to this product? Is it a specific color, flavor or pH? Once the application has been determined, the important objectives relating to color, price and pH must be all considered.

    Typical Flavors and Applications for Various Cocoas:

    Type of cocoa Typical flavor Common Applications
    Natural – non alkalized Mild, cocoay notes Compounds, syrups, bakery
    toppings, confectionery
    Alkalized – Light dutch Mild, cocoay notes with mild alkali undertones Dairy, beverage, creams, syrups, toppings, confectionery
    Alkalized – Red Moderate to strong alkali notes Bakery, dairy, beverage, creams, confectionery
    Alkalized – Dark Mild to Moderate alkali notes Bakery, confectionery
    Alkalized – Black Intensely unique alkali flavors Cookies, coloring agent

    Cake alkalized cocoa powders may work well in baking applications, but may not be optimal in drinks, dairy applications and some confectionary applications. The inherent structure of these cocoas may cause settling due to swelling of particles particularly in water based applications such as drinks.

    Nib Alkalization can also greatly reduce certain kinds of spore forming bacteria. This fact and the good solubility of nib alkalization make it a good first choice particularly in drink applications and dairy. These cocoas also work well in baking and confectionary applications. The upfront price may be higher for nib alkalized cocoas versus cake alkalized cocoas, but if you can use less of a cocoa that has a greater flavor impact, it may be an equal value.

    pH: Higher pH’ cocoa powders can interfere with leavening during baking and produce “tunneling” as a result of large air bubbles or an “overspreading” in cookies. High free alkali can also prevent gelling in products like pudding and can reduce the stability of milk and reduce the shelf life. A proper pH for the application can be obtained by blending a natural cocoa with an alkalized cocoa. The most efficient way to determine which cocoa may work the best in the application and at the price point needed is to partner with the cocoa supplier so that they can steer the customer to the cocoas that will be the most likely to prove successful.


  • Other Ingredients & Food Industry Terminology
  • Emulsifier Types

    Open or Close

    Emulsifiers have been widely used in the chocolate and compound industry for decades as a way to decrease the viscosity, or thin the chocolate. In the US, the standard of identity for chocolate products states that total emulsifiers must be kept below 1% of the formula. Emulsifiers enable confectioners to lower the viscosity (plastic viscosity and yield value of chocolate) to improve functionality and keep costs lower. A chocolate can certainly be made without emulsifiers but the cost would be higher since it takes 7-10% more cocoa butter in the formula to reach the desired viscosity.

    Emulsifier Types and Amounts

    Lecithin – Lecithin is the most commonly used emulsifier in chocolate and compound manufacturing. Most is made from soy beans but versions using sunflower and safflower exist as well. Lecithin can significantly reduce the product viscosity, particularly plastic viscosity, by adding little cost. However, viscosity tends to increase if lecithin is added at percentages over 0.5% of the total formula.

    PGPR – PGPR stands for polyglycerol polyricinoleate and is made from castor beans. PGPR can reduce the viscosity of chocolate, particularly yield value, while also adding little cost. PGPR is often used in conjunction with lecithin for optimum viscosity reduction as it does not function well as a sole emulsifier.

    AMP – AMP, or Ammonium Phosphatide, is made from rapeseed oil and can also be used in conjunction with lecithin or by itself. AMP is common in many European confections and it is starting to gain popularity in the US as well. The FDA declares that AMP may be used at a rate up to 0.7% in chocolates. This may also be labeled as “Emulsifier YN” on labels.

    Additional Emulsifier Additives in Chocolate

    Sorbitan Tristearate – This can be used in chocolate, and categories as an emulsifier, as long as it is kept under the 1% total emulsifier amount. Sorbitan tristearate can be used to help delay the effects of bloom. This can be used as a bloom inhibitor in compounds at a higher rate to help delay bloom and hasten the hardening period of compounds.

    Distilled Monoglycerides – This can be used in a similar fashion to sorbitan tristearate. As long as it is kept under 1% total emulsifier, the chocolate is able to be labeled as “Chocolate” according to its standard of identity. This can also be used to help inhibit bloom in chocolate and compounds.


  • Kosher Foods

    Open or Close

    Kosher is a word that means “proper or pure”. Kosher relating to food products refers to the foods that God in the Bible permitted the Jewish people to eat. When a food product is certified Kosher, it means that product is allowed to be consumed or used according to dietary and ceremonial laws. A food product that is considered Kosher will be certified by a Rabbinical Council. Each Rabbinical Council has their own certification symbol as shown below. At Blommer Chocolate Company, each plant location uses different Rabbinical Councils to certify that products are Kosher. Because of this, not all of our products will show the same symbol on the label.

    Examples of Rabbinical Councils and their symbols:
    Organized Kashrus LaboratoriesOrganized Kashrus Laboratories
    Orthodox UnionOrthodox Union
    Star-K (Baltimore)Star-K (Baltimore)
    Chicago Rabbinical Council Chicago Rabbinical Council


    Kosher for Passover

    In addition to meeting the year-round requirements for kosher, the food product also meets the Passover dietary laws, which prohibit the use of leavened grain products. The Rabbi of the certifying council will travel to the manufacturing facility to bless both the product and equipment. Also, the food packaging will be stamped and labeled by the Rabbi himself. The label will show capital letters ‘P’ and ‘D’ next to the Kosher symbol to designate a product that is Kosher for Passover.

    Kosher Dairy

    Eggs and milk products can be labeled Kosher if they are produced by Kosher animals. The label will show a capital letter ‘D’ after the Kosher symbol to designate a product that is Kosher dairy.

    Pareve

    Pareve foods are neither meat nor dairy. For example, all fruits, grains, vegetables, water and minerals in their natural state are all considered Pareve. This is a designation for religious reasons, and does not necessarily mean dairy allergens are not present. All Pareve products made are required to have a flush procedure done prior to product manufacture. These products also generally have designated equipment that is separate from equipment that processes products with dairy, but may run through shared pipelines.

    .


  • Protein

    Open or Close

    A. Brief Description of Protein

    Proteins are the building block of life. They consist of one or more polypeptides. A polypeptide is a single linear polymer chain of amino acids bonded by peptide bonds. There are 20 types of amino acids that make up these polypeptides. Those that can’t be made by our body are called essential amino acids. Our body will break down the protein into the amino acids. Proteins are needed by every cell, tissue and organ. They are used to help your body repair and make new cells.

    There are 2 main categories for proteins - Animal Based (beef, chicken, milk, eggs, fish) and Plant - (legumes, cereals, and nut and seeds).

    B. Functionality of Protein in Chocolate

    Of all the proteins our there most people fail to realize that the cocoa beans do contain low levels of protein and will contribute to overall protein, but the main types of proteins in our fortified chocolate and coatings are derived from milk. These ingredients include Whey Protein Concentrate, Whey Protein Hydrolysate, Milk Protein Concentrate, Milk Protein Isolate, Sodium Caseinate, etc. These complete proteins not only add to overall nutritionally, but add contribute to both texture and flavor.

    We are always looking at alternative proteins in our products as they relate to nutritional benefits, functionality in a chocolate or coating and flavor. We strive to be a leader in protein fortified coatings. If you require further information about proteins please contact your salesperson and they put you in touch with the appropriate person to discuss options.

    C. Nutritional Discussion

    a. Proteins are additionally categorized by how many essential amino acids they provide. Complete Proteins contains all essential amino acids. Animal Based proteins are complete proteins. Incomplete proteins are those that are low in one or more essential amino acids.

    b. Whey Protein Concentrate contains essential amino acids that are known for health and wellness including bone health and improved immunity. Additionally, WPC is a good source of Branched Chain Amino Acids which are often associated with muscle building.

    D. Current Trends

    a. From a functional food perspective protein fortified products continue to be one of the most popular products. It has gone from the just weight lifters to mainstream because of its ability to assist in weight management and satiety.

    b. Within the nutritional bar and confectionery industry WPC is considered the gold standard among proteins. There are some signs pointing to plant based proteins gaining ground in next few years.

    E. Blommer Items

    a. Blommer Chocolate Offers a variety of products fortified with milk proteins. Most of these products are whey protein concentrates, but others include milk protein concentrates, milk protein isolates and whey protein concentrates. Some of these products include Reduced Sugar, Yogurt, Dark Chocolate Flavored. Please contact your sales representative for further details.


  • Saturated and Trans Fat

    Open or Close

    In 1999 the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) proposed that the labeling of trans fat on Nutrition Facts be required by manufacturers due to the prominent public health concerns with trans fat. When this ruling came into effect in 2006 several companies reformulated their products to reduce or eliminate trans fat however there is still a significant amount of products that contain trans fat in the food supply. Saturated fats and trans fat are both associated with having elevated risk to heart disease. The 2010 Dietary Guideline for Americans recommends saturated fat consumption is minimized to 10% of the daily calories consumed and that trans fatty acid consumption is minimized as well.

    • Saturated fat is a fatty acid that has a hydrogen atom attached to every carbon atom by a single bond, making it fully saturated with hydrogen atoms. The full saturation of the hydrogen atom makes it more stable, prolonging the shelf life. Saturated fat is produced naturally in the body from carbohydrates and is found in several common food products such as hard cheese, cream, meat products, palm oil, and palm kernel oil. High intakes of saturated fat have been shown to increase the low density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) also known as the “bad” cholesterol. Increased levels of the “bad” cholesterol increase ones risk for heart disease.
    • Trans fatty acids, also known as trans fat, are created during the partial hydrogenation process of vegetable oils. During the partial hydrogenation process the molecule reconfigures itself so that the hydrogen atoms and double bonds are on different sides of the carbon chain as opposed to being on the same side. Trans fat is also found naturally in some meat and dairy products. Like saturated fat, high intake levels of trans fat leads to increased levels of “bad” cholesterol. However, unlike saturated fat, trans fat also increases the proneness of the heart to form clots from blood platelets and lowers levels of high density lipoprotein (HDL) which is known as the “good” cholesterol.

    In compound and chocolate products such as coatings and drops various oils/fats are used to achieve the appropriate parameters of each product. In compounds palm kernel oil (fractionated and hydrogenated), palm oil, soybean oil, and coconut oil are used where in chocolates cocoa butter and milk fat (butter oil) are used. There are numerous versions of each type of oil and each individual oil will have its own specific parameters. Palm kernel oil, palm oil, and coconut oils tend to be high in saturated fat where partially hydrogenated oils such as partially hydrogenated palm kernel oil or soybean oil tend to be high in trans fat. Partially hydrogenated oils are the predominate source of trans fat in processed foods. Cocoa butter contains very little trans fat and saturated fat. The saturated fat component found in cocoa butter is derived from stearic acid which has been shown to have a more minimal detrimental health effect when compared to other saturated fats. Table 1 breaks down various oils used in chocolate and compound coatings to show typical amounts of trans and saturated fat found in them.

    Table 1: Approximate Range of Trans and Saturated Fat in Oils

    (Based on 100 Gram Serving Size)
    OIL TYPE TRANS FAT (grams) SATURATED FAT (grams)
    Cocoa Butter 0.1 59.3 – 59.90
    Milk Fat (Butter Oil) 4.9 - 6.67 60.2 - 67
    Fractionated Palm Kernel Oil 0.1 86.8 – 92.90
    Hydrogenated Palm Kernel Oil 0.4 – 2.0 94.7 - 98.5
    Partially Hydrogenated Palm Kernel Oil 0.4 - 1.7 93.9
    Palm Oil < 1.0 45.98 - 87.25
    Coconut Oil < 0.2 – 0.4 91.2 – 99.1
    Soybean 0.5 - 1.5 14 - 15

    Source: These figures were generated from current oil supplier nutritional data. The figures used will vary based on the oil and oil supplier being evaluated.

    According to current FDA regulations if the trans fat for a product is under 0.5% it does not have to be declared and can be listed as 0 grams trans fat per serving. Chocolates and Compounds do contain saturated and trans fat, however the levels of these fats tend to be so minimal that most coatings fall under the 0.5% ruling. Because trans fat is naturally occurring in dairy products it is virtually impossible for a chocolate or compound to contain 0 trans fat. Table 2 shows the breakdown of trans and saturated fat in standard chocolates and compounds. Although the data listed in Table 2 is not representative of every coating; all of the coatings included in Table 2 have less than 0.5% trans fat.

    Table 2: Approximate Range of Trans and Saturated Fat in Chocolates and Compounds

    (Based on 100 Gram Serving Size)
      TRANS FAT
    (grams)
    SATURATED FAT (grams)
    White Chocolate 0.20 – 0.46 17.64 - 22.41
    Milk Chocolate 0.26 - 0.32 21.27 – 21.45
    Dark Chocolate 0.03 – 0.17 16.62 – 22.97
    Compound Coating with Fractionated Palm Kernel Oil 0.03 – 0.15 25.91 – 31.49
    Compound Coating with Partially Hydrogenated Palm Kernel Oil 0.46 – 0.50 25.21 – 30.78
    Ice Cream Coating with Coconut Oil 0.01 – 0.03 41.99 - 51.36
    Ice Cream Coating with Coconut and Soybean Oil 0.08 - 0.12 43.58 – 49.20

    Source: These figures were generated from current products produced by the Blommer Chocolate Company. The figures will vary based on the specific product being evaluated.

    As of November 2013 the FDA announced that partially hydrogenated oils may no longer be Generally Recognized as Safe (GRAS) due to their known adverse health effects. GRAS is the designation given to a substance added to food that is considered safe. The FDA has given industry groups until March of 2014 to make their comments, at which time the FDA will review the comments and make a decision. If this change does take effect it would prohibit companies from using partially hydrogenated oil without FDA approval. In the meantime manufacturers should evaluate their ingredients in their formulations and work with their suppliers on possible alternative oils that would then need to be tested in their particular application. Blommer is currently working with oil suppliers and our industry organizations like NCA to stay informed of the status of this issue.


  • Sugar Free vs. No Sugar Added

    Open or Close

    Sugar Free (SF) vs. No Sugar Added (NSA)

    To qualify as sugar free, a food must contain less than 0.5 gram (g) of sugars per reference amount customarily consumed and per labeled serving size according to 21 C.F.R. § 101.60. In the same document (21 CFR § 101.60), it defines NSA as no amount of sugars, or any other ingredient that contains sugars that functionally substitute for added sugars is added during processing or packaging. For example, No Sugar Added Chocolates (NSA) may contain nonfat and whole fat milks, whereas sugar free cannot because of the lactose present in milk.

    Maltitol
    Maltitol is a sugar alcohol derived from Maltose (a disaccharide). Maltitol comes in several kinds of granulation sizes (anhydrous) as well as in syrup forms. The calories per gram are less than the calories per gram of sugar; however, the specific calorie content may vary from different manufacturers depending on the composition, manufacturing process and the form that is desired for a specific application. Blommer Chocolate products that contain Maltitol are Commack NSA Milk , Germantown SF Milk and Dark, Valley Forge SF Milk and Dark, and Forgedale.

    Isomalt
    Isomalt is derived from Isomaltulose, which comes from beet sugar. Isomalt has about 50% of the sweetness of sucrose and half the calories per gram. This product is not seen as natural and has a laxative effect. Blommer Chocolate Products that contain Isomalt are Avalon SF Dark and Cape May NSA Milk.

    Erythritol
    The only polyol currently considered as natural. This product is about 60-70% as sweet as sucrose, contains 0.2 kcal per gram and offers no laxation effect that most other polyols do. On the other hand, Erythritol does have a strong cooling sensation and sometimes a slight metallic taste when used in large quantities. This polyol is also often paired with Stevia since both are considered natural. Blommer Chocolate products that contain Erythritol are Huntington SF Dark, Sanibel Fair Trade Gold NSA Milk and Belmar SF Dark.

    Polydextrose
    Polydextrose is a polysaccharide composed of glucose, containing minor amounts of bound sorbitol and acid. This product only has 1 kcal per gram, which is a quarter the amount of sucrose. Polydextrose also has no relative sweetness versus sucrose, so it is generally used along with a high intensity sweetener. Polydextrose is prebiotic, non-glycemic and widely recognized as a source of dietary fiber. A Blommer Chocolate product that contains polydextrose is Corolla SF Dark.

    High Intensity Sweeteners

    Stevia (Reb A)
    Stevia is also known as Reb A and is an extract of the stevia leaf. Stevia extracts can be up to 300 times the sweetness of sucrose. It is considered as a natural product and is often paired with Erythritol in sugar free and no sugar added chocolates. Blommer Chocolate products that contain Stevia are Huntington SF Dark, Sanibel Fair Trade Gold NSA Milk and Belmar SF Dark.

    Sucralose
    Sucralose, also known by the brand name Splenda, is a noncaloric high intensity sweetener. This artificial sweetener can be anywhere from 320-1,000 times as sweet as sucrose and 3 times sweeter than aspartame. This can be paired with polyols to round out a products flavor. Blommer Chocolates that contain Sucralose are Corolla SF Dark, Valley Forge SF Milk, and Avalon SF Dark.

    Aspartame
    Aspartame, originally branded as Nutrasweet, is an artificial high intensity sweetener that is about 200 times sweeter than sucrose. Even though aspartame produces four kilocalories of energy per gram when metabolized, the quantity of aspartame needed to produce a sweet taste is so small that its caloric contribution is negligible. The sweetness of Aspartame will also last longer than sucrose. A Blommer Chocolate that contains aspartame is Canderel NSA Milk.


  • Health and Wellness
  • Antioxidant Brief

    Open or Close

    Antioxidants scavenge free radicals (reactive oxygen species) and thus help the body fight against aging and a multitude of diseases, such as Cancer, Alzheimer’s disease, and Parkinson’s disease as well as reducing the risk of heart disease; the number one killer of men and women in the United States.

    The bad guys are the oxidants (free radicals) and the anti-oxidants bind with them so that they are no longer “free” to attack our systems. Free radicals have a cumulative effect and can be found in our exposure to the sun, foods, toxins and stress.

    Antioxidants and Cocoa

    The antioxidants in cocoa can help reduce the main contributors to cardiovascular disease by helping to reduce inflammation of blood vessels, reduce blood pressure and reduce overall cholesterol.

    Studies have also indicated that antioxidants increase the blood flow to the brain which can help protect against memory loss and protect against Alzheimer’s disease by protecting against amyloid plaque damage.

    There are many antioxidants of which polyphenols and the subclass flavanols are one type. Cocoa is particularly rich in monomeric flavanols, specifically epicatechin and catechin.

    Cocoa bean handling and processing can affect the amount and type of flavonoids in finished cocoa and chocolate products. Several factors can have an impact, including cultivar type, geographical origin, agricultural and post-harvesting practices and processing.

    Carbohydrate content, such as sugar, has been shown to improve flavanol absorption. Protein interaction has also come into question. Researchers concluded that the presence of milk in cocoa and chocolate products does not counteract the absorption or biological activity of flavanols.

    Antioxidant levels can be directly measured for overall polyphenol content or for particular flavanols, such as the catechins and epicatechins. Another way is to measure the ORAC (Oxygen Radical Absorbance Capacity). This measures the activity or bioavailability of the antioxidants.

    Relative amounts

    Antioxidants are housed in the solids portion of cacao products (from low to high)

    Cocoas
    Natural process cocoa (most)
    Red cocoas
    Black cocoa

    Chocolates
    High cacao solids dark chocolate (most)
    Dark chocolate with alkali
    Milk chocolates


  • Omega 3

    Open or Close

    Omega-3s (n-3) are essential fatty acids that have been implicated in having various positive health benefits. “Essential” fatty acid means they cannot be made by the body and must be obtained through the diet to maintain health. Some other names for n-3 are alpha-linolenic acid (ALA), eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA), and docosahexaenoic acid (DHA), which can be found in fish (EPA/DHA) and plant (ALA) oils.

    The most significant contribution of n-3 is its association to heart health/cardiovascular function perhaps due to the fact that is an anti-inflammatory agent. It may reduce risk of heart disease, reduce blood triglycerides, and VLDL (bad cholesterol). Studies have shown that people who take n-3 on a regular basis (5 days a week) have reduced risks of developing heart disease and sudden cardiovascular-related deaths. The FDA has approved an EPA/DHA supplement to treat high serum triglycerides. Since chocolate has also been shown to have positive effects on cardiovascular functions, it would seem that n-3 and chocolate are a natural fit.

    Omega-3 fatty acids have been shown to have an effect on cognitive function; children who have high n-3 perform better on tests.

    After testing multiple types and brands of Omega-3 (n-3) products, Blommer has found a fish-based n-3 product that has no flavor impact and went through a shelf life and stability test with great results. The fish-based n-3 has EPA and DHA fatty acids that were present at constant levels even after the manufacturer’s 6-month shelf life. We also have an acceptable flax-based n-3 product that contains ALA fatty acids in case of allergen issues from fish-based ingredients.


  • Prebiotics Fiber

    Open or Close

    Prebiotics & Fiber

    Fiber comes from carbohydrate sources and is the portion of food not digested by the human body. The bacteria in the digestive tract can use fiber as fuel and provide some energy locally, which improves gut health. In addition to the effects on gut health, studies show that dietary fiber can help increase satiety, decrease body weight, lower LDL cholesterol, prevent hypertension and decrease the risk of cardiovascular disease. Dietary fiber also decreases the risk of developing type-two diabetes.

    Fiber is broken down into two categories: soluble and insoluble meaning one is water soluble and forms viscous gels while the other is not water soluble. Sources of soluble fiber are pectins, gums, mucilages, inulin and oligosaccharides and sources of insoluble fiber sources are cellulose, lignin and hemicellulose. Soluble fiber is a good prebiotic because it is a shorter chain molecule and easily fermentable by a person’s gut, which feeds the good bacteria in the digestive tract; this means that they have a good synergy with probiotics. Prebiotics help to lower the intestinal pH, which makes it an inhospitable environment for pathogens to grow but encourage the growth of healthy bacteria like bifidobacteria (probiotic). Insoluble fiber does not easily ferment, but it contributes to stool bulk and regularity.

    Blommer chocolate has made two chocolate products, Montana Milk and Dakota Dark chocolates, featuring prebiotic fiber in the form of inulin. Both Montana and Dakota also have calcium carbonate in them, a source of calcium, whose absorption is enhanced by the inulin. We also make a multitude of sugar free products with prebiotics in the form of inulin.


  • Probiotics

    Open or Close

    Probiotics

    Probiotic literally translates to “for life” and are a good type of bacteria that naturally resides in the intestinal tract that may confer positive health benefits for those that consume them. They keep the gut’s natural micro flora flourishing while impeding the growth of potential pathogenic bacteria such as E. Coli. Keeping the micro flora in balance is particularly important during times of stress, compromised immune systems and while taking antibiotics; probiotics may reduce the risk of gastro-intestinal distress and diarrhea during these times. A further advantage for GI health is that probiotics can have positive effects on inflammatory bowel diseases such as Crohn’s. Probiotics have also been clinically tested to positively modulate immune functions. They have been clinically shown to reduce the risk of contracting disease as well as reducing the length of time with an illness; this is accomplished by increasing the activity of the body’s natural kill cells and by preventing pathogens from residing in the intestines.

    A recent study has been released showing chocolate to be a superior carrier for probiotics over the typical dairy products. It is suggested that chocolate provides a stable anaerobic environment for the probiotics to move through the digestive track and deliver them to the intestines where they are needed. Chocolate is an exciting and improved way to deliver probiotics to the gut.

    Because probiotics are bacteria, it is important to discuss its impact on plate count, which is a test we do for each lot of chocolate produced. The plate count tests for aerobic bacteria, which is an indicator of overall cleanliness in the plant. Probiotics are strict anaerobes, which means that they do not show up in a plate count. We did multiple blinded tests at three independent labs and the probiotics did not affect plate count or other standard tests. There are no cases of adverse health effects for bifidobacteria (the one we have been working with) and it is well tolerated even in people with compromised immune systems.

    Blommer has partnered with Danisco to complete a 12 month shelf life study of Howaru Bifido probiotics in 4 different Blommer chocolates. Because the results were so encouraging, Blommer has decided to expand and repeat the trials in duplicate using a third-party lab. Upon the conclusion of the study, Blommer intends on releasing the results.