January 28, 2023

Chocolate fillings with oleogels made from plant oils

Fraunhofer Institute for Process Engineering and Packaging IVV and partners from industry are investigating how fat content can be reduced in chocolate fillings by using oleogels made from plant oils as well as how the lipid composition can be optimized. The fillings manufactured using the recipe containing plant oils aren’t only distinguished by their nutritionally beneficial fatty acid profile. Individual adaptation to the product has meant that the shelf life required for chocolate products can be guaranteed, despite modifications to the recipe. The knowledge gained in applications for oleogels and the production of samples with convincing sensory characteristics will lay the foundations for further developments and other food products. The project was funded by the German Federal Office for Agriculture and Food (BLE) and the German Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture (BMEL).

Chocolate fillings are largely made up of saturated fat, which, when consumed in excess, presents a health risk. This is why we urgently need to reduce the amount of saturated fat in our food however, this generally tends to impair the taste and mouthfeel of food. It also presents new challenges for industrial production. One of the aims of this project was to replace solid, saturated fats with liquid, unsaturated oils in the form of oleogels. An oleogel can be described as a system in which process technology and gelators can be used to change the physical characteristics of an oil without a need to make any changes to its chemistry. Rapeseed oil forms the basis of the oleogels developed as part of the project for use in chocolate fillings. The transferability of sunflower oil was also tested.

To guarantee that the quality of filled chocolates produced using oleogels is maintained, a tailored recipe for each individual product is required. In these recipes, gelators are added to oil to form a stable network in which the oil is immobilized. In the project, various raw materials, such as waxes, biopolymers and fiber were characterized, before their application as gelators was assessed. The existing manufacturing process for direct dispersion and the indirect methods were adapted to each gelator. Adding an oleogel as a “fat system” allows the saturated fatty acid content to be reduced by at least 30%. At the same time, the nutrient profile is improved thanks to the higher proportion of unsaturated fatty acids.

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