A Sweet Treat

How much do I love cocoa? A choc-o-LOT! 

This is Sandra Tsing Loh with the Loh Down on Science.

But there are a lot of weird chocolates out there these days. Chocolate with burnt caramel, himalayan sea salt, CRANBERRIES. Sounds so tortured. And in fact, even making the straight stuff is! Can chocolate making be simplified?

Chocolate traditionally gets its flavor and texture from time-consuming fermentation.

But enter Ansgar Schlüter and colleagues from Zurich University of Applied Sciences in Switzerland. They made dark chocolate using a new method called “moist incubation”. Cocoa beans were dried, wetted, heated, and re-dried to mimic natural fermentation. Professional taste testers compared the new chocolate and the typical fermented stuff. 

What did they find? Moist incubated chocolate was fruitier, more flowery, and sweeter! This was confirmed by checking the chemical profile of the chocolates. Moist incubated chocolate had double the concentration of malty compounds compared to fermented chocolate. It also had five to twenty times less nutty compounds.

Sounds like a sweet success! Now, how do I become a professional chocolate taste tester?!

Reference: Schlüter, A., Hühn, T., Kneubühl, M., Chatelain, K., Rohn, S., & Chetschik, I. (2022). Comparison of the aroma composition and sensory properties of dark chocolates made with moist incubated and fermented cocoa beans. Journal of Agricultural and Food Chemistry, 70(13), 4057–4065. https://doi.org/10.1021/acs.jafc.1c08238