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By David Feder, RD, Technical Editor | 10/02/2009
The focus on fresh fruit is likely to only grow as a trend. “We see antioxidant fruit ingredients such as açai, cranberry, pomegranate and blueberry being used more and more in desserts and sweet beverages,” seconds Emilio Gutierrez, vice president of technical services for BI Nutraceuticals (www.botanicals.com), Long Beach, Calif. “They help the product promote a healthy image and they also provide a great point of differentiation.”
As with ice cream and other frozen desserts, that other American classic, fruit-flavored gelatin, is experiencing a renaissance. As a long-recognized comfort sweet without guilt, even this naturally healthy dessert category need a little help when keeping up with trends.
Gelatins traditionally have been healthful, but acidulant adipic acid can bring out fruit flavors to make the dessert more exciting.
“For many consumers, gelatin desserts deliver a great-tasting and low-fat treat,” says Barbara Heidolph, the technical service principal for food phosphates at ICL Performance Products LP (www.icl-perfproductslp.com), St. Louis. “For formulators, the question is how to introduce new and exciting flavors.”
Fruit being the typical flavor for this category, Heidolph describes adipic acid as the “perfect acidulant alternative because it allows for a clean flavor palate so every flavor — from tropicals to conventional grape — can have a true, natural taste.”
Bake it to make it
Some of the key considerations for baked products are proof times, volume (i.e., bulk density), bake time, final color, texture and flavor, according to Sarah Staley, vice president of business development for Chicago-based Friesland Foods Domo USA Inc. (www.domo.nl). “The big challenge for desserts is delivering on the expectation of a good-tasting, indulgent product while combating the formulation issues from the reduction or replacement of certain components, specifically fat and sugar,” she explains.
Christine Law, product developer at San Francisco-based FullBloom Baking Co., laments the loss of shelf stability when fat and sugar are removed. “We make all natural and organic desserts, with ingredient labels consumers can actually read and understand, so our choices are limited when it comes to preserving our healthful items for extended shelf life requirements.”
“Another growing market in which customers need help is the gluten-free bakery market,” adds Gum Technology’s Brooks. For gluten-free baked products, the company developed its Coyote Brand ST-101 stabilizer to replace the elasticity and mouthfeel, which would have been provided by gluten in such products as muffins and cakes. It also improves crumb structure and, as an all-natural hydrocolloid system, its use is suited for products being marketed as such.
Aida Prenzno, laboratory director for Gum Technology, points to a similar demand for replacers for the emulsion stabilizer propylene glycol alginate. The company created its pectin- and cellulose gum-based PGA replacements specifically for use as stabilizers in applications such as whipped toppings, cakes and glazes.
Of course, often a sweet treat can be as basic as a piece of chocolate. And chocolate certainly has diversified since the simple milk chocolate bar of the past. Chocolate has created a lot of news in the past year or so.
As we went to press, Kraft was bidding on a reluctant Cadbury, which may be forced to position itself for sale to another suitor. Researchers in England announced they were able to create stable cocoa butter emulsions containing up to 60 percent water by mass that do not cream during storage and melt at the same “perfect” temperature — just below body temperature, about 92°F — as regular chocolate. The study results will appear in the upcoming November issue of the Journal of Food Engineering.
Also as we went to press, Bubble Chocolate debuted in the U.S., although only through web site www.bubblechocolate.com. Although new in the states, the company claims millions of customers around the world who love the all-natural "aerated" chocolate.
“While the sensation will be new to most Americans, it will be a taste of home to the millions of international citizens living in the States,” the company says. “The nature of the aerated process makes the bars lower in calories than a regular chocolate bar ... and the burst of flavor tends to satisfy chocolate cravings sooner.”
Mars has been a leader in touting the antioxidant properties of chocolate, particularly the flavanols naturally found in darker chocolates.
“New tools have come into play over the past several years as ingredient suppliers drive for new and innovative ways to deliver positives and reduce negatives in what we eat,” says Hank Izzo, vice president of research and development for Mars Snackfood North America, Hackettstown, N.J.
“The combination of these new ingredients with unique and innovative ways to process them is the best chance for success when creating the ‘indulgence of the future,’ ” he says. “Applying all aspects of food science, nutrition and engineering with a passion for experimentation will bring us to the next frontier.
The trends in molecular gastronomy and the development of unique techniques and equipment to incorporate air or water while making things ultra smooth may make this more of reality than some may think. In addition, trends in the area of ‘fresh’ and combining fruit with other indulgent products give people new ways to enjoy and explore more healthful dessert combinations.