Chocolate is an attractive treat for consumers worldwide because of its exquisite flavour profile. Its aroma varies depending on the seed origin/genotype of the cacao tree (Theobroma cacao L.), growing conditions, such as climate and soil state, the post-harvest treatment, i.e. fermentation and drying, the bean roasting parameters and the chocolate processing conditions, particularly the conching process. Chocolate manufacturers are constantly seeking for ways to improve the flavour of their products and to introduce innovative chocolate flavours to meet the taste palate of the local markets.
The recently approved TEAM VLIR UOS project entitled ‘Sustaining high quality cocoa production by West-African small-holder farms’ will give access to a large variety of cocoa samples from Ghana, one of the world’s largest cocoa producers. The goal of the underlying research proposal is to valorise these Ghanaian cocoa samples in terms of their aroma potential. For that purpose aroma precursors will be defined and a marker assisted quick method for the evaluation of the aroma potential of raw cocoas will be developed. As mentioned above, the bean roasting and chocolate conching conditions have a crucial impact on the flavour of the final product. Another goal is therefore to study the influence of bean and chocolate processing on the aroma profile of chocolate. In addition, it’s the ambition to establish a relationship between the key odour components determined by instrumental analysis and the sensorial properties defined by a trained panel as influenced by the processing conditions. This should enable the chocolate industry to develop innovative chocolate products with unique and/or improved sensory attributes.
Owusu et al. (2013) established a relationship between key odorants and perceived flavour attributes of dark chocolate as influenced by cocoa fermentation method, roasting and conching conditions using multivariate data analysis in an attempt to use one variable to predict the other. Herein, only extreme roasting (120°C for 45min versus 150°C for 30min) and conching conditions (80°C for 8h versus unconched) were applied. In the underlying project, the process conditions will be varied more subtle in order to create premium origin chocolates. In addition, raw materials exhibiting a high aroma potential will be selected and compared.