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Tea seed oil may replace cocoa butter in chocolates

By Stephen Daniells , 17-Mar-2010

Partial substitution of cocoa butter in confectionery products may be achieved with tea seed oil, a by-product of tea processing, says new research with the potential to help chocolate makers cut costs.

Enzymatically-treated tea seed oil could replace up to 10 per cent cocoa butter in dark chocolate without detrimentally affecting the sensory qualities of the chocolate samples, according to findings published in the peer-reviewed International Journal of Food Science & Technology.

The researcher highlight the potential of the tea seed oil to act as a cocoa butter replacer, and may “reduce the cost of confectionary manufacturers”, wrote Iranian researchers, led by Mohammad Ali Sahari from Tarbiat Modares University in Tehran.

Cocoa and cocoa butter prices have continued to run at relatively high levels. With crops and prices always vulnerable to climatic and political change, the use of cheaper vegetable fat replacers should be a convincing argument for international chocolate firms such as Nestle, Cadburys and Hershey.

Moving away from cocoa butter may not be welcome in the eyes of some consumers, however, particularly with a relatively slow uptake of cocoa butter replacers in Europe. Chocolate makers may suspect that the consumer will not opt for the vegetable fat/cocoa butter mix, preferring instead the 100 per cent cocoa butter recipe. But there is also the argument that consumers will be tempted by low prices, made possible through cheaper ingredients.

And the new study appears to fit into that latter category, with the tea seed oil reported to be a by-product. The Iranian researchers performed enzymatic modification of the oil using sn-1,3 specific lipase from Thermomyces lanuginosus.

The researchers prepapred dark chocolate samples with 5, 10, 15, or 20 per cent of the cocoa butter replaced with the tea seed oil.

Data showed that replacing cocoa butter with 5 and 10 per cent of the interesterified tea seed oil produced dark chcolate that most closely resembled dark chocolate made with normal cocoa butter levels.

No detrimental effects on the melting point of the new tea seed oil-cocoa butter blend was seen, compared to cocoa butter.

“Based on the results taken from bloom formation, polymorphic structure and sensory evaluation, adding up to 10 per cent of interesterified tea seed oil in chocolate formulation reduces the bloom development without adverse affecting the desirable b crystal formation and sensory qualities in the chocolate samples,” wrote Sahari and his co-workers.

Source: International Journal of Food Science & Technology
March 2010, Volume 45, Issue 3, Pages 540-545, doi: 10.1111/j.1365-2621.2009.02162.x
“Enzymatically modified tea seed oil as cocoa butter replacer in dark chocolate”
Authors: S. Zarringhalami, M.A. Sahari, M. Barzegar, Z. Hamidi-Esfehani

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