The ingredient Mondelez thinks could make chocolate tastier – and cheaper

The chocolate giant believes its patented technique for using the ingredient could also have applications beyond sweets.

11 July 2019
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image credit: Getty Images

Calcium salt could be the key to enhancing flavours in sweet and savoury products, according to Mondelez UK, which has patented a new method to use the ingredient.

The confectionery giant’s scientists originally tested the discovery out on chocolate, but it can just as easily be applied to other sweet foods like caramel, toffee, fudge, marshmallows, nougat, sweets and gums, along with baked goods like cakes, biscuits, cookies and sweet pastries.

More surprisingly, however, is the fact that savoury items like bread, pies, potato, cereal-based crisp products and seasoning could also be improved by calcium salt, which also allegedly enhances salty, spicy, bitter and fruity flavours. 

Making chocolate production cheaper

It’s all a bit of a mind trick. Rather than improving the taste of a particular food product, Mondelez claims the addition of calcium salt alters the taste perception of its ingredients.

The technique was developed to overcome disadvantages that arise in manufacturing, such as the conching process in chocolate making.

Conching uses heat and machinery to break down and refine the cocoa to improve the smoothness and taste of chocolate.

“Typically, the longer the conching period, the better the taste of the chocolate product. However, conching chocolate for a long time reduces the throughput of a chocolate making process and therefore increases the cost of producing a chocolate product,” Mondelez said in its patent application.

“Using a relatively high temperature when conching, for example above 70°C, may accelerate the removal of undesirable flavour compounds from the chocolate and therefore shorten the conch time. However, such high temperatures may introduce undesirable cooked or burnt flavours.”

Previous attempts to solve this problem using additional ingredients have resulted in powdery mouthfeel. Calcium salt, on the other hand, does not affect the texture of the food or make it grainy, nor is its taste detectable, according to Mondelez’s R&D team. 

Flavour fields

Calcium salt’s reputed ability to supercharge flavour could be useful in other areas of reformulation as well, helping to save on ingredient costs, particularly those that are “expensive and/or difficult to handle or mix.”

Tangy, herby, gingery, acidic, cocoa, nutty, minty, vanilla, earthy, mushroom, umami, sour, smoky and buttery were all cited as tastes that calcium salt could have a material effect on.

It also has the potential to aid the reduction of sodium-based salt in products and lower the use of MSG.

Last year, Mondelez launched a new Cadbury Dairy milk chocolate bar with 30% less sugar. It used fibre as an alternative to some of the sugar.

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