University of São Paulo: Chocolate sweetened with cocoa pulp is USP technology

A liquid rich in antioxidants, dietary fiber, vitamin C and sugar. This is cocoa honey, extracted from the pulp of the fruit, and for many years practically ignored in the manufacture of chocolates, which uses only cocoa seeds. But studies led by researchers from USP and the State University of Southwest Bahia (Uesb) revealed that cocoa honey can be used as a natural sweetener for chocolate, bringing better use of the fruit, in addition to adding greater nutritional value.

This discovery was made in 2012, when professor Suzana Caetano da Silva Lannes, from the Faculty of Pharmaceutical Sciences (FCF) at USP, and professor Marcondes Viana da Silva, from UESB, led research to process cocoa honey and use it it as a natural sweetener in chocolate, in addition to the formulation of an ice cream based on the liquid extracted from the fruit.

To ensure ownership of the invention, in 2013, they filed a patent application with the National Institute of Industrial Property (Inpi), through the USP Innovation Agency. And the result came out in February this year.

The title of the invention is Food Composition with Cocoa Honey and is owned (property) by USP and Uesb. In addition to the professors from the two universities, the inventors include Elias Nascimento da Silva and Danilo da Cruz Ramos (former undergraduate students at Uesb who collaborated in the research) and Fernando Su (former student at USP).

“Cocoa honey can be extracted in two ways: centrifuging the pulp or when you open the fruit; in this opening, a lot of liquid flows. It has a series of antioxidant properties, a very high sugar content, vitamin C, and all of that we determined in our analyses”, explains Professor Suzana.

“Cocoa honey”, in natura and lyophilized, raw material used as an alternative to sucrose replacement in food compositions

She says that during the studies they evaluated the drying process of cocoa honey to put in chocolate. “We carried out the tests replacing the sucrose in chocolate, which is a structuring agent, with the powder of cocoa honey, preserving all its bioactive properties.” It was precisely the processing and application of cocoa honey that was patented.

For Marcondes Viana da Silva, from UESB, the technological application of cocoa honey in food compositions will add nutritional value to formulated products, in addition to bringing the concept of sustainability to cocoa production.

“The use of this by-product thus allows for competitiveness in the market, exclusivity in exploration, possibility of its commercialization, valorization of the effort expended, legal protection against exploitation by third parties and contribution to society”, he declared in an interview to the website of UESB news.