Researchers from Finnish dairy specialist, Valio, have discovered that ‘30% less sugar’ chocolate made with milk-based protein is equal to regular chocolate in taste and texture.
The optimal ash-protein ratio in the reduced sugar chocolate was linked to pleasant taste and texture. This solution allows manufacturers to make delicious ’30% less sugar’ chocolate without artificial sweeteners.
The current wellness trend means that consumers are looking for foods that support an active and healthy lifestyle. Yet, they want to enjoy eating and are reluctant to compromise on the taste, texture, or naturality of food. To reduce sugar consumption and the ill-effects of sugar, many countries have implemented sugar taxes.
“As a result of the wellness trend and sugar taxes, food and confectionery manufacturers are constantly looking for solutions to create tasty food products with reduced sugar content,” says Terhi Aaltonen, Development Manager and researcher at Valio.
Consumer acceptance is key in creating desirable and successful reduced sugar products. Both the reformulation and sensory properties of the products need to be acceptable. Valio’s researchers were able to produce an acceptable ‘30% less sugar’ chocolate by replacing sugar with a milk-based protein.
“The control chocolate contained a standard sugar level and the trial chocolates had total sugar levels that were reduced by 30%. Consumers rated the chocolate samples according to their overall liking, liking of taste and texture and the attributes sweetness, saltiness and sandiness,” Aaltonen explains.
The ash-protein ratio, or the amount of salt and protein, proved critical in achieving the best possible consistency in ‘30% less sugar’ chocolate. The ash-protein ratio had the strongest positive correlation with the overall liking as well as the liking of texture and taste. The ash-protein ratio had the strongest negative correlation with sandiness.
Sugar in chocolate is commonly reduced by using either polyols, also known as sugar alcohols, or by adding fibre. Polyols can cause digestive discomfort if consumed in excess, and their use requires a warning label about laxative effects on product packaging.
“When the sugar reduction is achieved with Valio’s solution, that is lactose free milk powder, no such warning is necessary. It is possible to use the claim ‘reduced sugar’ as well as claim ‘protein source’ on these chocolates,” says Aaltonen.