How to Build a Healthier Dessert

With fat, sugar and calories on the outs, wise manufacturers are building healthy indulgences through clever application of current ingredient and technology trends.

By David Feder, RD, Technical Editor

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As debate continues into the creation of the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, portion size is coming under scrutiny. While most of the concerns are about canned and bottled soft drinks, debate may well spill into other food categories, desserts and candy bars included.

And while 100-calorie packs have been lauded as a solution, there also are studies finding consumers will eat two or more 100-calorie “single” serving packets to feel satisfied. But Paul Levitan, president & CEO of Galaxy Desserts Inc., points out smaller serving portions can work very well with more luxurious sweets. “Smaller size desserts allow manufactures to create satisfying desserts. They may be very rich, but they are also very satisfying and don’t leave the consumer wanting more.”

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.

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