Published in Applied Research
Cocoa butter alternatives
A current hot topic in research is the sourcing and evaluation of potential alternatives to cocoa butter in chocolate production. Shea and palm oil fractions are already widely used as cocoa butter extenders. Replacements for cocoa butter could bring both technological and economic benefits: it is an expensive material subject to price fluctuation, which is vulnerable to high temperature and issues such as fat bloom. Any alternative which could bypass some or all of these issues would be of great interest to manufacturers, and a range of novel options are under consideration, from such varied sources as mango seed and camel hump fat.
One possibility considered recently by Indian researchers was Kokum kernel. Kokum is a small evergreen tree found in India, and its kernels are a by-product of the country's agro-processing industry. Vidhate et al found that although current small-scale production levels are inefficient, optimization of the economical and eco-friendly process could lead to production of a viable cocoa butter alternative from the Kokum kernel waste products.
Results from Spanish researchers, meanwhile, (published in Food Chemistry) looked at the potential in sunflower hard stearins, and found their crystallization behaviour to be promisingly similar to that of confectionery fats. A Malaysian study highlighted palm stearin as well as mango seed fat as having the capacity to withstand melting at high temperatures, a quality which could be particularly valuable to manufacturers in tropical countries.
Perhaps the most surprising alternative source under consideration is reported on in the Journal of Supercritical Fluids, in a study by researchers at the Iranian Isfahan University of Technology. Using fat from camel humps in combination with tristearin, they experimented with different temperature and pressure conditions to develop a workable cocoa butter analogue.
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