Friday, August 10, 2012

What More Can You Do With Chocolate?

(photo courtesy of The Hershey Co.)

Many readers ask for predictions or suggestions as to what they should be creating in their R&D labs. As a trend tracker for almost 20 years and a frequent trade show attendee, I often have some worthwhile ideas, I’d like to think. Here’s one: Chocolate. It’s time for dairy processors to do more with it.

Cocoa and dairy have always made a great couple. Think milk chocolate and chocolate milk. It’s truly one of the few balanced relationships out there. Balance is often boring so why not shake things up.

I recently wrote an article for Culinology, the Research Chef Association’s publication, on the innovative ways to cook with chocolate—beyond dessert. I highly encourage you to read it HERE.
And earlier this week, The Food Channel released its trends forecast specific to chocolate, identifying the top-10 trends in the category. You can read it HERE.
 “We’ve done a Dessert Trends report for years,” said Kay Logsdon, editor of The Food Channel. “As we looked at desserts this year, so much of it was chocolate that we just decided to dig a little deeper.”
The report identifies make-at-home Craft Chocolates as a top trend, along with Spreadable Chocolate and Chocolate Pairings. It looks at the health factors that are influencing the world of chocolate, and the way chocolate is popping up in unexpected places, like for breakfast. Each trend has a recipe example created in the Kitchens of The Food Channel. Recipes include Biscuits and Chocolate Gravy, Chocolate Blackberry Bark, Chocolate Cinnamon Cream Pie, Gluten-free Chocolate Cookies and more. The report provides some innovative ideas that can translate into dairy products.

And here’s one final idea. At the 2012 Sweets & Snacks Expo in early May, Vosges, the chocolatier from Chicago who is best known for its gourmet Bacon Chocolate, debuted Wild Ophelia, a uniquely American brand that features all-natural and often organic ingredients sourced from small farms and artisans. The brand is described as “An American Roadtrip through Chocolate.”

Many of these chocolate bar flavors sound like fabulous inclusions for ice cream. But why not also as a mix-in for yogurt or in a cheese spread? (All the bars contain bits and pieces of the characterizing flavor.)
Milk Chocolate: 
  • Sweet Cherry Pecan
  • Salted Chowchilla Almond
  • Southern Hibiscus Peach
  • Peanut Butter Banana
  • Beef Jerky
Dark Chocolate:
  • Mount Sequoia Granola
  • Smokehouse BBQ Potato Chips
  • Sweet & Crispy Caramel Corn
  • New Orleans Chili
To all those dairy product manufacturers reading this, it’s time to start bugging your chocolate inclusion suppliers to make these flavors.
To those suppliers reading this, I look forward to some samples.

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