Barry Callebaut has filed a patent for a process to grind cocoa shells into a powder fit for use as a cocoa replacer, fat bloom inhibitor and ingredient in other foods.
In its recent patent application, the chocolate manufacturer said that powdered cocoa shells can be economically produced on an industrial scale and used safely to replace cocoa powder in chocolate, fillings, compounds and beverages.
The powder can also be used as a low-germ food ingredient in dairy products, to impart coloration in food products or as a fat bloom inhibitor in cocoa-based products, Barry Callebaut said in the patent filing.
The processing method can be used to produce cocoa shell powder from pre-roasted, unfermented, fermented or well-fermented cocoa beans from Africa, Asia, Central America or South America.
Taste, color and health
Barry Callebaut said the taste and color of the cocoa shell powder means it can be used to replace cocoa powder easily in cocoa-based products.
Results from a taste panel indicated that the powdered cocoa shell has a light cocoa flavor with hints of cinnamon and nuts but free from off-flavors like smoky, must or burnt. This ‘neutral’ taste, Barry Callebaut said, makes the powder ideal for use in chocolate and other foods.
The color of the powder is very similar to cocoa powder when alkalized with or without an iron component, it said. While there are slight color deviations, Barry Callebaut said nothing can be visually distinguished and therefore the shell powder can be used to replace cocoa powder.
Barry Callebaut also highlighted the nutrient properties of the cocoa shell powder and said it can provide health benefits to cocoa-based products. The powder has a reduced fat content; an average of 2-6% of weight and a reduced theobromine and caffeine content, it said. It also has an increased dietary fiber and flavanol content, it added.
The first process steps such as pre-roasting, cracking, removal and separation of the cocoa shells from the nibs and sieving can be done by standard processes, Barry Callebaut said.
The cocoa shells need to then be washed to remove sand, off-flavor notes and undesired components such as mycotoxins or pesticides. The shell fractions may be washed by aqueous buffer solutions at a temperature between 15⁰C and 100⁰C for between one and 12 hours.
The washing step can be repeated up to five times and must be followed by a drying process like heat convection, head conduction, steam and vacuum or counter current heater air.
The shells then need to be alkalized, and this can be achieved by standard processes, Barry Callebaut said. After being cooled, the alkalized cocoa shell powder then needs to dry for 35-85 minutes before being ground, it added.