How to measure and analyse the texture of food, cosmetics, pharmaceuticals and adhesives.

Tuesday, 1 November 2016

The Battle of the Confectioners in the Development of Chocolate

Biting a chocolate
Chocolate continues to be the world’s favourite confection bringing to mind images of comfort, indulgence and taste. 

With a successful product comes tough competition between the major players in the confectionery world to make new advances in product development. Pushing the development envelope to create new novel versions of such a product requires the tools to assess and compare the effects of new processes and ingredients. This is where texture analysis becomes a manufacturer’s best friend.

Creating New Sensory Experiences

Health plays an important part in formulation, but let’s not forget indulgence and the sensory experience. There is an increase in product launches with new texture types as a result of novel applications or a combination of existing ones or simply the addition of pieces, such as oreo chunks, to enhance the textural appeal.

Researchers at Nottingham University have recently published their work that looks at 'Material properties of chocolate relevant to texture perception'. The material properties of four texturally different chocolates were investigated (with the aid of their TA.XTplus Texture Analyser) with the aim of enabling possible future prediction of texture attributes of chocolate through laboratory protocols rather than human subjects. 

The hardness and the in-water meltdown behaviour of the four chocolates were measured at room temperature and 37°C, respectively. The chocolates were also emulsified with water to obtain in-vitro boluses and their friction properties were evaluated and compared to the respective in-vivo boluses.  

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Pushing the Temperature Boundaries of Chocolate 

Chocolate in spoon
The Hershey Company have recently employed their TA.XTplus Texture Analyser for measurement of chocolate texture in a patent application for the development of a heat stable chocolate confectionery product.

The melting temperature of cocoa butter and other fats sometimes used with or in place of cocoa butter in certain chocolate making processes is in the range of 29°C to 35°C. As a result, chocolate bars and other chocolate confections cannot always be readily transported, stored or enjoyed in the summertime or in tropical climates where temperatures of unconditioned spaces typically reach or exceed the melting point of the fat in the chocolate. 

Even where the confections are stored or consumed in a conditioned space, if they melt during transit and then resolidify, the products may become misshapen or exhibit bloom, a condition in which the melted fat in the chocolate recrystallises in a different structure resulting in a change in appearance or texture that can render the product unappealing.

Various attempts have been directed to trying to develop a heat stable chocolate that could better withstand conditions of elevated temperature. Efforts to date have generally involved modifying formulations by adding ingredients to the chocolate that provide heat stability. In some cases, special ingredients are added that are designed to absorb moisture during processing or after packaging. In other cases, water is incorporated directly into the chocolate during manufacture, such as using water-oil emulsions. 

Three point bend test on chocolate barHowever, chocolate products made using these kinds of additional ingredients generally have a dry, crumbly texture that is undesirable and also suffer from flavour deterioration over a shorter shelf life as a result of the high moisture content. In still other cases, high melting fats have been used, but chocolate confections having these kinds of fats are also disfavoured because they tend to have a negative, waxy eating quality.

A method for creating a heat resistant confectionery product is disclosed in the patent that includes incorporating one or more finely milled ingredients to a mixture containing a chocolate compatible fat.  

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Lowering the Fat in Chocolate

With diabetes on the rise, consumers are well aware of the health risks of eating too much sugar. In response, formulators have developed chocolate with sugar alternatives that still maintain the indulgence of chocolate. This year has seen more patents and research carried out into lower fat confectionery products.

Recently Nestec have been using their Texture Analyser to file a patent entitled 'Fat-based Confectionery Products'. Fat-based confectionery products are well known and appreciated by consumers. However, some of these tend to have a nutritional profile high in total fat and in particular high in saturated fats in order to provide the desired organoleptic properties and textural properties. 

Snapping a choc bar
In general, confectionery products must provide a sufficiently firm texture to ensure shape stability of the product and to avoid its substantial deformation, and that the product does not become “sticky” sticking to product wrappers, or the hands of a consumer, upon handling the product. The fat used in the products must also be sufficiently solid at the temperature and conditions to which the product is exposed in order to avoid oiling out, i.e. separation of the oil component from the other components of the product. It is also desirable that the product should melt in the mouth and yield a creamy, melt-in-mouth mouth feel. 

In order to impart the required textural and sensorial properties to fat-based confectionery coatings, high SFA, solid type fats are used. However, high consumption of saturated fatty acids (SFA) is widely considered to have negative health impact. The present invention relates to fat based confectionery products, more particularly to chocolate and chocolate-like products. Specifically, it relates to the use of an encapsulated liquid oil for the partial replacement of solid fats in the preparation of such products, to such confectionery products comprising encapsulated liquid oil and to processes for the preparation thereof. 

Moulded tablets were left for a week at room temperature before analysis. Samples were analysed for their hardness using a TA.XT2 Texture Analyser. A P/2N steel needle probe was used to determine the maximum force required to penetrate the compound tablets to a distance of 2.9mm into the sample. 

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Reducing the Calories in Chocolate Products

Meeting the demands of alternative sweetening solutions in chocolate, Barry Callebaut was reportedly the first developer of chocolate on the market that was sweetened by all-natural sugars derived entirely from fruits.

More recently, scientists at Middle East University and Barry Callebaut have been working on 'Physical characterization of low-calorie chocolate formulations'. Development of a high-quality low-calorie chocolate needs the use of the most appropriate ingredients that could substitute sugar without negatively affecting several product properties. In their study, sucrose-reduced chocolates sweetened with sucralose and stevia by using bulking agents were investigated in relation to their rheological, textural and sensory attributes. 

They implemented their TA.HDplus to assess hardness and fracturability of the different formulations. The data indicated that it was possible to manufacture chocolate by partial replacement of sucrose with stevia without adversely affecting its important rheological, textural properties and sensory acceptance.  

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We can design and manufacture probes or fixtures
for the TA.XTplus texture analyser that are bespoke to your sample and its specific measurement.

Once your measurement is performed, our expertise in its graphical interpretation is unparalleled. Not only can we develop the most suitable and accurate method for the testing of your sample, but we can also prepare analysis procedures that obtain the desired parameters from your curve and drop them into a spreadsheet or report designed around your requirements.

For more information on how to measure texture, please visit the Texture Analysis Properties section on our website.

TA.XTplus texture analyser with bloom jar The
TA.XTplus texture analyser is part of a family of texture analysis instruments and equipment from Stable Micro Systems. An extensive portfolio of specialist attachments is available to measure and analyse the textural properties of a huge range of food products. Our technical experts can also custom design instrument fixtures according to individual specifications.

No-one understands texture analysis like we do!

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