Legume ‘milk’ may cut costs and dairy from chocolate

By Stephen Daniells

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags: Chocolate

Vegetable milk made from a blend of peanuts and cowpea may offer an alternative to dairy for milk chocolate formulations, suggests a new study from Ghana.

While vegetable milks made from legumes like soy, cowpea, groundnut have been studied for a long time, a recent renewed interest from health-conscious consumers motivated the Ghanaian researchers to consider a blend of peanut and cowpea.

According to findings published in Food Research International​, a ration of peanuts to cowpea of 1 to 2 produced a chocolate that was most preferred by a panel of tasters.

Furthermore, the researchers note that the acceptance by chocolate manufacturers of this ingredient could reduce the costs associated with chocolate production.

“It has been demonstrated that cowpea milk has a strong beany flavour while peanut-cowpea composite blends have minimal beany flavour,”​ explained the researchers.

“A composite product made using peanuts and cowpeas as sources of nutrients such as protein, dietary fibre, folate and other vitamins and minerals would be an ideal dairy milk substitute,”​ they added.

Researchers from the Ghana-based Cocoa Processing Company and the University of Ghana repeat the feasibility of producing acceptable dark milk chocolates by substituting dairy milk with dehydrated legume “milk”.

Different ratios of peanut to cowpea were used, including 1:1, 1:2 and 1:3. The impact of enzymes to produce enzyme hydrolyzed, and non-hydrolyzed milk was also investigated. The resulting ‘milks’ were subsequently dehydrated and used in recipes to produce chocolates. Chocolates made with skimmed milk powder were used as a comparison.

According to their findings, the ratio of peanut to cowpea did indeed affect the chemical and functional characteristics of the resultant vegetable milk, with the best performance by the 1 to 2 ratio milk.

Furthermore, the non-hydrolyzed milk was more acceptable to the panellists. “This is important because it reduces the 1 processing steps for preparing the vegetable milk,”​ explained the researchers.

Dark milk chocolates were formulated by the Ghanaian researchers, and compared to milk chocolate made using dairy milk. When tested by a panel of tasters, the milk chocolate version was found to be the most acceptable. However, the researchers also noted that there were no significant differences in acceptability for the chocolates made using non-enzyme treated vegetable milk.

“The successful application and consumer acceptability of peanut-cowpea milk chocolates has the potential to increase the utilization of these crops and enhance their market value,”​ wrote the researchers.

“If accepted by industry, the incorporation of vegetable milk will help lower chocolate costs,”​ they concluded.

Source: Food Research International
Published online ahead of print, doi: 10.1016/j.foodres.2009.08.018
“Development and characterization of dehydrated peanut-cowpea milk powder for use as a dairy milk substitute in chocolate manufacture”
Authors: Herta Aidoo, Esther Sakyi-Dawson, Kwaku Tano-Debrah, Firibu Kwesi Saalia

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