Chocolate is a general term for the products of seeds of cocoa or chocolate tree, used for making beverage or confectionery. The flavour of chocolate depends not only on the quality of the cocoa nibs and the flavourings but also on a complex process of grinding, heating, and blending.
Chocolate confectionery contains sugar confections including sweet, sugar-based foods, which are usually eaten as a snack food. These include sugar candies, chocolates, candied fruits and nuts, chewing gum and sometimes ice cream. In some cases, chocolate confections are treated as a separate category, as are sugar-free versions of sugar confections.
Nowadays, innovative trends in chocolate confectionery are developed like the addition of orange or citrus in chocolate, used as a dessert-like an ingredient, production of vegetable in chocolate, the addition of various fruits in chocolate, the addition of nuts in chocolate, cereals are included within chocolate used in breakfast, floral, white chocolate, and layering flavours. Innovative in chocolate confectionery in trend due to consumers more demand towards the new innovative chocolate confectionery development, healthy chocolate confectionery, and organic chocolate confectionery.
Addition of orange or citrus in chocolate
Manufacturers are increasing their research and development with other types of citrus in chocolate due to the presence of natural antioxidants in the lemon. Indeed, the number of chocolate products flavoured with lemon has doubled over the past year globally. And beyond simply lemon, gives more variations in the products with lemon, yogurt, and pepper, or with lemon oil. For example, in Germany, Gepa The Fair Trade Company has launched a white organic yogurt chocolate bar with lemon zest and pepper.
Used as an ingredient in dessert
Chocolate used to be an ingredient in desserts, but now desserts have become an “ingredient” in chocolate confectionery. From creme brulee to crepes and tiramisu’ and a whole other range of desserts – desserts are becoming flavours. Beyond baked desserts, and also seeing things like milkshake as well as ice cream flavoured chocolate being launched. The German company Kaoka, for example, has launched an organic dark chocolate with buttery crispy crepes.
Production of vegetables in chocolate
Although still niche, new chocolate launches in Asia (especially in China) contain vegetables. One of the vegetable-chocolate combos is chocolate-covered potato chips, which could be considered more of a salty snack plus chocolate (like other salty snacks transitioning to chocolate e.g., chocolate covered pretzels and popcorn). The other Asian-inspired vegetable-based chocolate is edamame covered with chocolate and wasabi flavoured chocolate, which was a big trend last year. In Japan, Mujirushi Ryohin has launched Mujirushi Ryohin purple sweet potato chocolate, with white chocolate and purple potato paste.
Addition of various fruits in chocolate
Fruit like strawberry, raspberry, and cherry – added to chocolate due to the presence of polyphenol and phytonutrient present in the berry. There are now a lot more types of fruit being integrated. Peach is one of the fruits that have become more common, as seen in Poland with Luximo Premium, which launched Luximo Premium Praliny Nadziewane o Smaku Brzoskwiniowym which contain chocolates with peach flavoured filling.
Addition of nuts in chocolate
Hazelnut is the top nut ingredient in chocolate, followed by almond and peanut. But there is also a growth in pistachio, which has figured in more products this year, and there are several blends of nuts and seeds or nuts and other ingredients. For example, in Canada Rogers’ Chocolates has launched Rogers’ Chocolates Natural Dark Chocolate Chipotle Almonds, which comprises fresh California almonds cooked in small batches of cane sugar and a blend of chillies and spices.
Cereals included within chocolate used in breakfast
Not just for breakfast, cereals nowadays added within chocolate. Certain cereals have been included within chocolate for a while, but other types of cereals moving in such as granola and muesli that give the chocolate more texture. Other grains moving into chocolate include quinoa, as seen in the Agave Quinoa Sesame in Milk Chocolate bar from US company Seattle Chocolate.
A greater variety of “fine” and “rare” cocoa
Artisan and “sourced” solid chocolate from some countries such as Sao Tome and Venezuela, but this trend, even more, suggesting a growing interest in fine and carefully crafted products. There is also considerable interest in ascribing a “taste profile” to the chocolate, much like in the wine industry. For example, in Vietnam, chocolate brand Marou launched Marou Ba Ria 76% So Co La Den (Ba Ria 76% Dark Chocolate), featuring a bold and fruity chocolate made from Trinitario cocoa, which is sourced directly from family-owned farms in Ba Ria province.
While floral notes in chocolate products are still occasional, this is an avenue that has the potential to be explored more. For example, American Wild Ophelia has launched Wild Ophelia All Natural Southern Hibiscus Peach Milk Chocolate Bar containing 41% cacao with Angelus peaches which are said to be high in potassium and vitamins and offer healthy protein and dietary fibre.
An increasing number of white chocolate launches on the market, with a lot of different and innovative fillings and flavourings. One example of this is Gepa The Fair Trade Company Weiße Bio-Jogurt-Schokolade mit Mango und Kokos (White Yogurt Chocolate with Mango & Coconut) in Germany.
Building and layering flavours
Recent quirky and interesting new product launches have included beer and chocolate (in the Netherlands with Voor Jou! Real Belgian Chocolate Glasses of Beer), red wine and marzipan (in Germany with MK Mark Chocolate with Red Wine Marzipan), smoked BBQ potato chips (in Wild Ophelia Smokehouse BBQ Potato Chips Dark Chocolate Bar) and other fun products that demonstrate the extent to which chocolate serves as a great base for building and layering flavours.
Organic chocolate confectionery
Organic chocolate has evolved from the latest trend into a mainstream, must-have feature. Consumers have a growing interest in organic products, which opens up many opportunities for the confectionery industry. More and more organic offerings are popping up on shelves of established, iconic brands as well as boutiques and independent producers.
(The author is from Dairy Chemistry Division, National Dairy Research Institute, Karnal, Haryana)