“It’s a new game,” Pierre Costet, taste masters division at Valrhona told ConfectioneryNews.
French firm Valrhona is working with plantations in Madagascar and Brazil that ferment cocoa in boxes for 5-7 days under conventional methods. Farmers then pour orange or passionfruit juice on the beans for a second fermentation phase.
The process took 10 years to develop and Valrhona began to sell its first double-fermented cocoa chocolate couvertures in September last year.
Fruit taste without fruit added
“There’s a synergy between the two ingredients that creates a new type of product – something between chocolate and orange juice. It’s an excellent way to have a new chocolate ganache tasting of fruit, but without fruit added,” said Costet.
Valrhona has two double-fermented products: Itakuja 55%, a Brazilian coverture fermented with passionfruit and Manaka 62%, a Madagascan couverture fermented with orange pulp.
Shelf-life and cost
“The final product is more expensive,” said Costet. “We had to invest in some equipment to make it and we needed more people and more ingredients,” he said, but added: “It’s opening the border for new products.”
The taste expert said the chocolate creates a novel association with fruit does not taste exactly like fruit juice because fruit sugars ferment with the cocoa.
He added that there was no impact on shelf-life as cocoa beans are dried before processing, eliminating residual liquid.
Labeling and applications
Valrhona labels its couvertures for B2B customers as “fermented in the presence of fruits” and Costet recommends a similar label for finished products.
He expects the main applications will be in chocolate confectionery such as tablets and assortments, but the couvertures may also be used as a biscuit or macaroon filling.
Valrhona is exploring possibilities with other fruit juices and also plans to work with plantations in other cocoa growing regions. The company is conducting research at plantations in Venezuela and the Dominican Republic.
Valrhona claims double fermentation is beneficial for farmers as they are paid an additional premium.
Costet said in future farmers may be able to grow fruits for the juice alongside cocoa for an extra source of income, but agronomists would need to ensure such multi-cropping is compatible.
Valrhona sells its couvertures as solid chocolate in three kilo bags. Sales began last September and are progressing well, said Costet.