Ingredients that do not meet the standards of identity for chocolate are referred to as compounds. They often resemble and deliver the sensory properties of chocolate, but because of an ingredient swap, cannot be called chocolate. It is in this space where bakers will find an array of value-added options for their recipes.

“Compound chocolate is very similar to chocolate, only it uses a different fat source other than cocoa butter to achieve the texture of chocolate,” said An Ho, research and development director, International Food Products Corp.

“Recent developments in chocolate ingredients lie mostly with responsible, sustainable cocoa farming. Other chocolate-related advancements include fortification, consumer knowledge on the health benefits of chocolate, the improvement of sugar replacers, savory applications and exotic combinations.”

Chocolate can be used in various other applications.

“Our barks, fudges and droplets each feature different flavor and performance factors for different applications,” said John Pimpo, marketing director, Parker Food Group. “Droplets are our answer to chocolate chips. They can be either chocolate or confectionery and can be colored or flavored in random, artisan sizes. Our barks are essentially our droplets with inclusions.”

This is where the “more” comes into play. These ingredients can be formulated to contain dried fruits, coconut, seeds, salts, ancient grains, cookies and candies.

“Since both barks and droplets are formulated like chocolate chips, they perform like chocolate chips and are best utilized within firmer dough structures like cookies and brownies to avoid cratering in airy, lighter doughs,” Mr. Pimpo said. “Our fudges have a softer texture than the droplets or barks but can still feature inclusions. Because of their formulation, they are best served as toppings and not as inclusions themselves.”

The company recently launched a high-protein cookie inclusion line that can be used in baked goods and snack mixes. The protein can be either plant or dairy-based, and other custom options are available, such as low sugar and gluten-free.

“These inclusions have been formulated to assist developers in fortifying their finished product with protein,” Mr. Pimpo said. “They are ‘the’ source of protein for the application so the developer can focus more on flavor and performance of the product itself. With an added source of existing protein, the developer can worry less about masking flavors and hitting numbers.”

Phenolaeis, a supplier of sustainable palm fruit extract, has developed a 72% cacao functional dark chocolate with added wellness benefits and an indulgent, clean taste with less bitterness. It is made with palm fruit extract sustainably produced in Mexico using production methods that respect the environment.

The chocolate products sport a high polyphenol content, not just from the cacao but also from the palm fruit extract. This superfruit ingredient is derived from the oil of palm fruit using solvent-free, minimally processed handling. This water-soluble non-GMO plant complex is composed of at least five natural polyphenols, fibers, carbohydrates and protein.

Palm fruit extract has strong synergies with cacao. Research studies have shown that it activates a wide range of antioxidant pathways that support the immune system, as well as cardiovascular and cognitive health.

Belgian chocolate supplier Puratos USA has added Belcolade Selection Dark Sugar Reduced Cacao-Trace Chocolate to its premium chocolate range. Made with all-natural chicory root fiber instead of high-intensity sweeteners like stevia or aspartame, the latest addition has 40% less sugar and is 100% natural, using only clean label ingredients.

The chocolate is made with sustainably sourced cocoa beans from Puratos’ unique Cacao-Trace sustainability program, which uses expert fermentation techniques to produce superior chocolate and rewards its cocoa farmers with a “chocolate bonus” of 5 cents per pound of chocolate sold.

“We are focused on crafting products with the best nutritional value possible, without compromising on taste, texture or quality,” said Jaina Wald, vice president of marketing for Puratos USA. “We know that chocolatiers, pâtissiers and bakers want the best-tasting chocolate for their customers, and consumers are more focused than ever on improving their health and well-being. Now, they can come together for an indulgent chocolate experience both feel good about.”


Most cocoa powders on the market are dutched, meaning they have gone through a process of alkalization to mellow the acidity and develop flavor. DeZaan has a new collection that includes two natural powders (non-dutched). True Gold has flowery, citrus flavor notes and a light natural color, while True Dark has nutty fruitiness and a dark color more associated with dutched powders.

“Cocoa is a vital ingredient across so many pastry and dessert recipes, yet professional chefs in the US have had to make do with limited options,” said Diane Stopford, director of sales, deZaan. “With the support of our team of ingredient development and innovation experts based in Chicago, we want to change that.”

Olam Food Ingredients is launching a line of premium deZaan cocoa powders crafted around four key elements — color, fat content, flavor and level of alkalization — said to impact the outcome of a recipe. Flavors range from light and fruity citrus to velvety chocolate and caramel notes, while the color palette ranges from the vibrant hues of crimson red and terracotta to the intense carbon black.

“Experimenting with the range made me realize that the type of cocoa powder you choose allows you to take control of your recipe and enhance the results,” said Andrew Pingul, pastry chef, deZaan for Professionals. “These cocoa powders offer bitter, floral and fruity notes, as well as different aromas and textures.”

Upcycling is the latest iteration of sustainability when it comes to ingredients. It’s also the story behind The Supplant Co.’s new namesake chocolate chips. The company uses the fiber-rich parts of crops that don’t typically make their way into food to create Supplant sugars from fiber, which cook, bake and caramelize like traditional sugar. The product has fewer calories than cane sugar, a low-glycemic response and the benefits of a prebiotic. That sugar is used to sweeten the chocolate chips.

Over the past two years, Cabosse Naturals, a brand by Barry Callebaut, created a range of 100% pure cacaofruit ingredients that include the bean, the nutrient-dense peels, the pulp and juice. It upcycles 70% of the cacaofruit, one of the most harvested fruits around the globe, which used to be discarded as waste. The result is WholeFruit chocolate, a fruity chocolate for chefs and artisan bakers.

Likely the most unusual chocolate ingredient on the road to commercialization comes from California Cultured Inc., a company that uses cell culture technology to produce cocoa products like cocoa powder, chocolate and cocoa butter with the goal of creating sustainable and ethical chocolate. This is accomplished by cultivating cocoa cells selected for melt, performance, smell and taste. The company grows those cells in a way similar to cultured meat, providing them nutrients in specialized bioreactors. The cocoa harvested from this method is then fermented and roasted like traditional cocoa, producing cocoa nibs that can be used like traditionally harvested ones. This process produces cocoa without deforestation and child labor.

“As Charles Schultz said, ‘All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt,’ ” Mr. Pimpo concluded. “Chocolate will continue to be an inclusion of choice to make baked goods more indulgent.”  

This article is an excerpt from the April 2022 issue of Baking & Snack. To read the entire feature on Chocolate, click here.