A recent study* by the University of Leeds, UK, has, for the first time, used texture analysis to explore the effects of processing conditions on chocolate demolding. The research, which employed Stable Micro Systems’ industry-leading TA.XTPlus Texture Analyzer, will prove an invaluable tool in helping manufacturers optimize their processing conditions and parameters. Responding increasing consumer demand for chocolate products and pressure to optimize production, it is vital to understand the conditions influencing the chocolate manufacturing process and the quality of the end product. Such factors include cooling temperature, probe and mold temperature, contact time, chocolate hardness and relative humidity.

All of these influence the adhesion of chocolate to molds and, subsequently, the ease of demolding. For example, warmer temperatures and moisture have detrimental effects on chocolate viscosity, making it stickier and more problematic to demold. The benefits of refining the demolding process include waste reduction due to minimal surface defects and production losses as well as line efficiency in terms of both speed and output quality. Plus, less equipment cleaning helps keep processing costs down. The TA.XTPlus, developed by Stable Micro Systems, was used to measure chocolate adhesion to the mold surface under varying controlled conditions, using a bespoke fixture. The surface adhesion force, an indicator of stickiness, was measured by bringing a flat polycarbonate probe into contact with liquid chocolate. Once the chocolate solidified, the probe was pulled upwards, imitating the forces involved in the demolding process of commercial chocolate bars. The force of adhesion is recorded, which is a measure of the ease of demolding. Chocolate hardness is a key qualitative parameter that can also be successfully measured using the TA.XTPlus. Solidified chocolate samples were analyzed for hardness using a 2mm cylindrical stainless steel probe that penetrated the samples at a constant speed. The maximum penetration force obtained was recorded as the measure of hardness. By measuring hardness, the effect of different processing conditions on the chocolate was determined.

The TA.XTPlus Texture Analyzer delivered consistent and reliable results for this practical application. This demonstrates how texture analysis helps food manufacturers to fine-tune processing conditions. Working closely with our customers throughout the industry, we offer commercially viable testing solutions developed specifically for their needs, spanning new product development, quality control and large-scale automated manufacturing.

World-leading specialists in analytical technology, Texture Technologies and Stable Micro Systems offer a large portfolio of probes and attachments to facilitate precise measurement and evaluation of physical properties of food products. The comprehensive range of tests in chocolate and confectionery ranges from chocolate hardness, cutting force and break strength to confectionery stickiness, flexibility and hardness, to name but a few.

Are you interested in duplicating this research or conducting your own similar research? Give us a call and we’ll help you deploy the test method in your own lab.

*Esther L. Keijbets, Jianshe Chen, Chocolate demolding and effects of processing conditions, School of Food Science and Nutrition, University of Leeds, Journal of Food Engineering: 98 (2010), 133-140.