Formulating Cake Pops: Reducing Sugar in Bite-Sized Baked Goods

Formulating Cake Pops: Reducing Sugar in Bite-Sized Baked Goods

The “cake pop” started out as a sweet alternative to cutting cake by the slice, in Angie Dudley’s home kitchen in Atlanta, Georgia. However, these trendy lollipop cakes smothered in icing are now staples in almost every bakery and Starbucks worldwide. Which begs the question… “Wouldn’t it be great if we could reduce sugar without sacrificing their tasty flavor?”

Since 2015, the cake pop industry has seen a meteoric rise, gaining so much momentum that it’s fueled countless businesses, food trucks, and even national cake pop conferences. According to Data Bridge Market Research, the cake pops market is projected to reach a market value of USD $250 million by 2029.

Source: Data Bridge Market Research Market Analysis Study 2022

The Rising Popularity of Cake Pops For Health Reasons

Due to the convenience of these cake bites and their naturally “healthier” portion size, Data Bridge Market Research projects the cake pop market to grow at a CAGR of nearly 3% during the next 6 years.

Market research firm Technavio attributes a great deal of cake pops’ popularity to the prominence and rise of in-store bakeries in 2018. These in-store bakeries offered a “one-stop-shop” experience, giving a platform to cake pops and more portable bakery products. Their market study shows that alongside cake pop’s surge in popularity is also a congruent rise in demand for “healthier snack variants.”

While cake pops may be a “healthier” alternative to a full slice of cake, portion control is just the beginning of creating a “better for you” product. Also critical is reducing their sugar content. In line with shifting preferences towards healthier sweets, there has been a strong and steady growth in the use of natural sweeteners like stevia, erythritol and monk fruit. Innova Market Insights reports that global product launches with such sweeteners have been on the rise since 2018.

Source: Innova Market Insights, 2022

Among these natural alternatives, stevia is by far the most popular with 63% of product launches using natural non-nutritive sweeteners in 2022.

Source: Innova Market Insights, 2022

There is a wide array of natural sweetener solutions on the market that can replace the onset sweetness of consumers’ beloved cake pops, but achieving the optimal formulations for these sweet confections can be rather nuanced.

Solving the Challenges of Sweetening Cake Pops

In our global markets, granular sugar can be replaced with our stevia and erythritol mix (Stevia:Erythritol 1x). This product is co-processed for uniformity so that the fine powdered stevia doesn’t separate from the large erythritol crystals during shipping or processing. The taste and binding properties are a perfect match to the sugar that it replaces.

But whether or not that first bite tastes just as delicious as the popular, sugary cake pop recipes, the challenge may lie in preconceived notions when creating a sugar-free alternative.

VP of Market Strategy, Tom Fuzer, recently addressed some consumers’ outdated perceptions of stevia:

“When Reb A was first introduced, the industry rushed to market with products that featured stevia but neglected to optimize for its taste profile. Formulations with high use of levels of Reb A, particularly the low purity grades, created bitterness, aftertaste and other off-notes that consumers now continue to associate with stevia. Since then, improvements in the taste of stevia have come a long way. In the past five years, minor glycosides such as Reb D and Reb M have been commercialized and taste much better than Reb A,” Fuzer said.

As a result, the natural sweeteners industry had to take a look at reformulating with these better-tasting glycosides, particularly in sugar-free formulas for baked goods.

In the U.S. market, our DGS sweetener series could also be used as 1:1 drop-in sugar replacements. In particular, our E100 and F100 blends are suitable for baking applications like cake pops.

DGS E100, which is a mixture of erythritol, allulose, stevia leaf extract, and natural flavor, works well in the inside cake portion as it’s more effective in binding the dough together. It’s important to note that the usage of binding agents helps hold all the ingredients in a formulation together so it is not too crumbly, playing a big role in contributing to the texture you know and expect in a baked good. When using E100 in the batter for cake pops, E100 will tend to be more firm compared to the “crumbly” baking applications with F100.

Our F100 baking product, which is a mixture of allulose, soluble fiber, stevia leaf extract, and natural flavor, is great for coating the cake with a delicious white chocolate coating. F100 has 31% fiber, adding a positive nutritional element as many US consumers lack sufficient fiber in their daily diets. It works best in baked food applications that benefit from having browning or spread, since it contains more allulose than E100.

“Allulose behaves similar to sugar in that it undergoes Maillard browning, which is the reaction of heat with sugar to produce a brown color and taste. Allulose however reacts faster than sugar so baking conditions may need to be modified to get the same color,” states HOWTIAN Technical Director, Hank Wang.

Luckily, both allulose and erythritol work exceedingly well with stevia. In fact, they combine to better replicate the sweetness intensity and timing of sugar’s taste profile — with stevia producing the greater intensity while allulose and erythritol offer the more immediate sweetness. Additionally, they both complement stevia well because they can act as bulking agents that make up for the missing volume from reducing or replacing sugar in cake pops.

Product Demo: Our Stevia Formulation for Cake Pops

To illustrate these sugar reduction techniques in action, HOWTIAN was able to replace all the added granular sugar in a traditional cake pop recipe with our stevia-based sugar replacers. Based on HOWTIAN’s demonstration and product sampling at industry events like Supply Side West, taste testers couldn’t tell the difference with our non-sugar version — and the results really showed as our cake pops were flying off the trays.

To experiment with your own cake pop formulation, you can start with our recommended formulas below.

Red Velvet Cake Pops

Red Velvet Cake Pops (66% Reduced Sugar)
White Chocolate Chips22.82
DGS E100 Sugar Replacer or Stevia:Erythritol 1x13.45
Whole Milk10.62
Flour10.19
Cream Cheese8.37
Egg7.08
Butter4.25
DGS f100 Sugar Replacer or Stevia:Erythritol 1x11.32
Coconut Oil2.75
Yogurt2.12
Corn Starch1.98
Vegetable Oil1.93
Vanilla Extract0.92
Vinegar0.88
Cocoa Powder0.76
Salt0.21
Red Food Coloring0.18
Baking Soda0.17
TOTAL100g

Pumpkin Cheesecake Pops

Pumpkin Cheesecake Pops (66% Reduced Sugar)
White Chocolate Chips22.22
Pumpkin17.16
DGS F100 Sugar Replacer or Stevia:Erythritol 1x10.72
Egg9.49
Cream Cheese9.25
Flour7.69
DGS E100 Sugar Replacer or Stevia:Erythritol 1x6.41
Whole Milk3.84
Vegetable Oil3.49
Graham Crackers3.08
Coconut Oil2.68
Corn Starch1.74
Yogurt0.92
Baking Powder0.32
Vanilla Extract0.26
Cinnamon0.26
Salt0.19
Baking Soda0.15
Turmeric0.08
Nutmeg0.06
TOTAL100g

Contact Us

If you need help with reformulating for cake pops or baked good products and applications, HOWTIAN engineers are available to help meet your challenges. We can assist in developing a customized strategy for your product(s) with cost-effective solutions and reliable supply. Please contact us to learn more.

Formulating for Keto: The Challenges of Sweetening for this Popular Diet

Formulating for Keto: The Challenges of Sweetening for this Popular Diet

Most diets come and go with the seasons, but one fad diet has only grown in its popularity, even forcing major brand names to hop on the “Keto Diet” bandwagon…

The ketogenic diet is a low-carb, high-fat method that is similar to the less new, yet familiar, Atkins diet. Keto’s appeal, however, is derived from its emphasis on foods that are high in fat like red meat, avocados, cheese, nuts, and a variety of other “taboo” foods not commonly approved by strict diet plans. Keto’s popular approach forces one to drastically reduce their carbohydrate intake — like grains, fruit, and traditional sugars — and replace it with fat to achieve a state of ketosis. In this metabolic state, the body is able to burn fat more efficiently for energy.

Over the past several years, followers of the diet have been able to keep the keto craze going, thanks in part to some of the diets’ reported and studied results, including:

  • Excess fat loss
  • Improved insulin sensitivity
  • Reduced levels of hemoglobin A1C

Food and beverage manufacturers have followed suit. Innova Market Insights reports that keto-friendly food and beverage products peaked in 2020-2021 after its marked inception in 2017, but still continues to experience remarkably strong growth in the number of new launches each year.

Source: Innova Trends Insider 2022, Innova Market Insights

Amongst the various food categories, baked goods are leading the way in adoption of keto. Also according to Innova Marketing Insights, an outstanding 27% of new product launches that mention “keto” fall into the bakery category.

Source: Innova Trends Insider 2022, Innova Market Insights

In addition to baked goods and cereals, sports nutrition also has a 10% stake in keto-friendly product launches. This is in line with reports that 25% of US sports nutrition consumers are seeking out high sources of protein made with real, natural ingredients and low/no/reduced sugar — qualities that perfectly describe what keto dieters are looking for.

Although seemingly ironic at first, in recent years keto-friendly “Sweets” have risen in prominence since the craze began. This includes a variety of categories including soft drinks, snacks, desserts and more. Sweetening a keto-friendly product requires sugar reduction, and replacement with more natural solutions. Companies have shifted their traditional sweetening method in baked goods, cereals and even sports drinks to natural sweeteners like stevia. Stevia’s high intensity sweetness and zero calories allows manufacturers to formulate new “keto” products without sacrificing taste.

Major Brands Shifted to Keto-Friendly Products

The keto craze experienced a meteoric rise with no signs of stopping. So naturally, big-name, diet-plan brands began to shift their focus to keto-friendly product lines. Trusted names like SlimFast and Atkins created these niche products dedicated to their already low-carb dieters, but with more of an emphasis on high-fat intake — in other words, the keto method.

Challenge: Foods High in Carbs & Sugars Are Not Typically Keto-Friendly

The inherent challenge of sweetening keto-friendly products lies in the method’s strict low-carb directive. In fact, most common types of sugary treats and some sugar-free candies are either reduced or otherwise eliminated entirely, according to the keto diet.

Below is a list of common non keto-friendly foods:

  • Sugary Foods: soda, fruit juice, smoothies, cake, ice cream, candy, etc.
  • Grains or Starches: wheat-based products, rice, pasta, cereal, etc.
  • Fruit: all fruit, except small portions of berries like strawberries
  • Beans or Legumes: peas, kidney beans, lentils, chickpeas, etc.
  • Root Vegetables & Tubers: potatoes, sweet potatoes, carrots, parsnips, etc.
  • Low-Fat or Diet Products: low-fat mayonnaise, salad dress, condiments
  • Some Condiments or Sauces: barbecue sauce, honey mustard, teriyaki sauce, ketchup, etc.
  • Unhealthy Fats: processed vegetable oils, mayonnaise, etc.
  • Alcohol: beer, wine, liquor, mixed drinks
  • Some Sugar-Free Diet Foods: sugar-free candies, syrups, puddings, sweeteners, desserts, etc.

How to Formulate Keto Products

Formulating for keto products will typically follow a simple, low net-carb calculation. If a product has 10 grams of total carbs, certain carbohydrates that the keto diet permits will be netted out from the calculation. Below is an example of how we may reduce the 10 grams of carbs:

  • 4 grams of fiber
  • 2 grams of allulose
  • 3 grams of sugar alcohol

When subtracting these keto-friendly ingredients, your resulting net carbs in this case would equal only 1 gram. Stevia is a recommended and particularly popular sweetener for keto, but ingredients like allulose and fibers like resistant dextrin, inulin, and certain oligosaccharides may be considered as well. Note that when formulating with fibers, they aren’t as readily digestible so you’ll want to stay below 10 to 15 grams per dosage.

So, What’s Our Solution?

Replace Traditional Sugars With Stevia:
Lowers Your Carbs, Calories & Sugars

Keto formulas typically try to reduce the sugar as much as possible. So if you have no other sweeteners in your formula, a good starting stevia to use for significant sugar reduction is Reb D. It is lower cost than Reb M and very close in overall taste. Unless your product needs to be crystal clear, Reb D would be a great choice. A lower cost option would be to use Reb A 98 at the highest level possible and then top off with Reb D. This would be a good option if you have other sweeteners in your product, too.

As an example, in a beverage you may start with 360ppm of Reb A 98 and adjust the use level up or down depending on the desired taste. Our testing has found that 360ppm of Reb A 98 can replace 6-7 sucrose equivalents and not have many off-notes. However, if you want to match the taste profile of full sugar very closely, a use level of ~200ppm can replace about 5 sucrose equivalents.

Visit a HOWTIAN exhibition at an upcoming industry event to experience our keto solutions in action.

In addition to our line of stevia extracts, HOWTIAN offers a variety of solutions for food & beverage manufacturers developing keto-friendly products. Our DGS sweetener blends utilize a mix of replacement carbs that would be netted out in a true ketogenic formula. HOWTIAN’s DGS series is an ideal drop-in solution for a 1:1 replacement of sugar in most applications that require bulking.

Alternatively, allulose is a rare sugar approved in select countries and exempted from the sugar labels in countries like the U.S. and Mexico. Similar to allulose, erythritol is a favorite low-calorie sweetener choice for many food & beverage makers as it provides a sweetness level that can largely replicate sugar and that is higher than that of allulose. Both act as strong complements to stevia, and can be coupled to develop optimized sugar replacement solutions for different applications, especially when bulking agents are required. Maltitol, xylitol and sorbitol are additional options to consider, as well. In cases where bulking is not a need, stevia will be your sweetener of choice for formulating keto-friendly products.

Sample Formula: Our New Keto-Friendly Sugar Cookies

As an illustration of sugar reduction in action for keto, we developed a formulation for sugar cookies with our keto-friendly DGS sweetener blends:

Full SugarNo Sugar Added
Flour, All-Purpose42.3842.38
Baking Powder0.360.36
Salt0.180.18
Butter, Unsalted25.6425.64
Sugar, Granulated22.62
Egg, Large7.547.54
Vanilla Extract1.271.27
HOWTIAN DGS Series22.67
Total100g100g

Contact Us

If you need help with reformulating for a keto-friendly product or application, HOWTIAN application engineers are available to help meet your challenges. We can assist in developing a customized keto-friendly strategy for your product(s) with cost-effective solutions and reliable supply. Please contact us to learn more.

HOWTIAN Interview in Food Business News: The Outlook for Sugar Reduction

HOWTIAN Interview in Food Business News: The Outlook for Sugar Reduction

December 12, 2022 — Food Business News invited HOWTIAN to impart our perspective on the future of sugar reduction, and how sweetener blends provide food manufacturers a versatile toolset to achieve their formulation and reformulation goals. Our conversation with the FBN team was selected and featured in the latest issue of the magazine as its lead cover story, “Blending Sweeteners Brightens Sugar Reduction Outlook.”

As one of our leading experts in formulation, Technical Director Hank Wang discusses the unique ways product developers are successfully blending stevia, monk fruit, allulose and erythritol. The key is to understand how these natural sweeteners best complement each other, and why the different onsets of sweetness for each will help you replicate the taste profile of sugar.

In the interview, we talk about our proprietary stevia blends, DGS Sweet E100 and DGS Sweet F100 Baking, that are 1:1 replacements for sugar. Although the two blends are similar, F100 is better suited for achieving the desired consistency of a traditional baked good:

“Raw dough or batter made with F100 will be slightly stickier and softer, but it holds well with other binding agents. Binding agents help hold all the ingredients in a formulation together so it is not too crumbly, playing a big role in contributing to the texture you know and expect in a baked good.”

Thank you to Food Business News for giving us the opportunity to weigh in on where sugar reduction is evolving for the industry. You can read the full article here. Or if you’d like more insights on how to leverage HOWTIAN’s proprietary stevia blends for your product and application needs, reach out and connect with one of our formulation experts.

HOWTIAN Interview in Asia Pacific Food Industry Magazine: The Demand for Sugar Alternatives

HOWTIAN Interview in Asia Pacific Food Industry Magazine: The Demand for Sugar Alternatives

November 28, 2022 — In a full-length dedicated interview with Asia Pacific Food Industry Magazine, VP of Market Strategy Tom Fuzer was asked to give HOWTIAN’s perspective on the marketplace for sugar alternatives, what’s driving the continued rise of diabetes globally, and shifting consumer preferences around “clean labels.”

“In addition to a clean label, today’s consumers are also scrutinising product manufacturers’ supply chains and sourcing practices to understand the environmental footprints of the products they purchase… As the world’s largest manufacturer of natural stevia, HOWTIAN has just recently completed a key agricultural science project that delivered the highest ever steviol glycoside (the sweet component of the stevia leaf) yield per hectare, thus further improving its already favourable environmental measures.”

November/December 2022 Issue of Asia Pacific Food Industry Magazine

For the story, HOWTIAN also addresses current economic challenges as inflation spirals and consumers are becoming more and more cost-conscious. With companies increasingly tasked to find more affordable sugar alternatives, HOWTIAN continues to improve its manufacturing output, and in turn, product costs — where the cost-in-use of our stevia is starting to reach parity with that of artificial sweeteners.

We are grateful for the opportunity to share our expertise and understanding of the challenges food & beverage companies face in this shift towards natural sweeteners. Thanks to the APFI team!

You can read the full article here.

Fi Europe 2022 Expo

Fi Europe 2022 Expo

Exhibition Dates: 6-8 December 2022
Exhibition Location: Paris Expo Porte de Versailles, France

Stand No. 7.2J52

The Fi (Food Ingredients) Europe expo is one of Europe’s largest annual gatherings of leading food & beverage suppliers, buyers, and R&D experts with a history of more than 35 years. This year’s show will be in Paris and the theme will be to drive industry dialogue on how “Food Moves Forward.” With over 1,000 exhibitors, 20,000+ attendees and 135+ countries represented, the stage is set to discover thousands of innovative and natural ingredient solutions.

The HOWTIAN team will be in attendance at Fi Europe, exhibiting our newest formulation demos, innovative health ingredients, and latest sugar reduction technologies — featuring ingredients such as stevia, inositol and pyrroloquinoline quinone.

If you’ll be in Paris, be sure to visit us at our exhibition stand 7.2J52. There, you can speak with our HOWTIAN representatives about how we’re building a sustainable “food future” with every harvest. We’re excited to showcase our solutions and help food & beverage manufacturers reimagine their own formulas naturally.

Interview with New Food Magazine: HOWTIAN claims highest Reb A yield in industry history

Interview with New Food Magazine: HOWTIAN claims highest Reb A yield in industry history

October 27, 2022 — HOWTIAN was recently invited to provide an insider perspective on its announcement of achieving a record-breaking 12% Reb A yield. VP of Market Strategy Tom Fuzer goes more in depth on the significance of the milestone and the company’s vision for the future of sugar reduction in a feature piece with New Food Magazine.

The article highlights Project Shennong, a decade-long endeavor built on HOWTIAN’s ambition of a healthier lifestyle for all, regardless of economic means. The work of Project Shennong has resulted in significant strides for the food and beverage industry, and this latest achievement has brought the cost of stevia closer to parity with artificial sweeteners than ever before, all without compromising the natural core of stevia.

In the conversation, Fuzer explains that the cost of stevia is always top of mind for product developers and formulators in the food and beverage manufacturing industry, especially when compared to the cost of artificial sugar substitutes like aspartame. In light of this, some suppliers have pursued alternative methods of manufacturing stevia, including fermentation technologies.

While some of these methods may manufacture sweeteners that may be chemically the same as stevia, Fuzer points out…

“It no longer delivers what consumers actually prefer stevia for – its naturalness. Project Shennong proves that by investing in breeding technologies and developing stevia variants with exceptionally high Reb A content, you can still achieve cost targets without sacrificing what stevia is all about.”

The interview continues to discuss how demand for all-natural stevia is on the rise as consumers seek out products with “clean labels.” Fittingly, this new milestone is but the latest sign of HOWTIAN’s commitment to clean, sustainable sugar reduction with simple, natural ingredients.

HOWTIAN is proud to be at the forefront of the industry, and we thank New Food Magazine for the platform to share this exciting news.

Read the full article here.

HOWTIAN featured as the lead story on the homepage of New Food Magazine

Supply Side West 2022 Expo

Supply Side West 2022 Expo

Exhibition Dates: 2-3 November 2022
Exhibition Location: Mandalay Bay Resort in Las Vegas, Nevada

Booth No. 7111

SupplySide West 2022 is one of the year’s biggest shows for the food & nutrition industry’s leading experts and professionals. The HOWTIAN team will be exhibiting with demos of our latest innovations and prototypes using natural sugar substitutes. If you’ll be in Las Vegas, stop by Booth 7111 to sample our sugar-free PQQ gummies, mango tea with PQQ in 2 sugar-reduced varieties, nougats, and reduced sugar cake pops in red velvet and pumpkin cheesecake flavors.

We’re excited to present our product on one of the industry’s biggest stages, and help food & beverage manufacturers brainstorm new, natural formulas their consumers will reach for guilt-free. If you’re interested in receiving more information on these formulas, please contact one of our representatives.

HOWTIAN has succeeded in harvesting the stevia industry’s highest ever Reb A yield

HOWTIAN has succeeded in harvesting the stevia industry’s highest ever Reb A yield

September 26, 2022 — Thanks to a dedicated team and decade-long commitment to intense agricultural science and research, HOWTIAN is proud to officially announce a critical milestone in their endeavour to create natural, accessible food & nutrition products for the masses.

HOWTIAN has achieved up to 12% average Reb A yield this season – the highest ever in the industry and a significant turning point as stevia costs approach parity with artificial sweeteners.

Natural solutions for everyone — this is more than an ideal, but rather a commitment the founder of HOWTIAN, Zhu Liping, made at the company’s start in 1999. Through his travels and remote explorations, he understood nature as the answer for everything and believed its benefits shouldn’t be limited to those with greater means. This philosophy remains intact decades later. In fact, it was the driving force behind the founding of HOWTIAN’s stevia ventures in 2009 and the drive for Project Shennong.

Project Shennong was inspired by the mythological Chinese ruler, Shennong Shi. Known as the “Divine Farmer” and celebrated as the father of Chinese Medicine, the ancient ruler taught his people new agricultural practices, herbal drug remedies, and the importance of living a healthier life.

Project Shennong began at a time when different steviol glycoside (the sweet component of stevia) processing technologies were emerging worldwide. In this growth period however, HOWTIAN saw many divert from the natural-leaf extraction technology and start to compromise the naturalness of their manufactured stevia for cost savings.

Over the past 10 years, HOWTIAN chose a different path in launching Project Shennong. They decided to set themselves apart and offer solutions that keep natural principles at the forefront, while also achieving an affordable cost by:

  • Investing in R&D to develop higher steviol glycoside yielding plant varieties
  • Testing and scaling them for mass production

“Ten years ago, the average Reb A yield of the stevia plant was about 4.0% and has increased to about 7.0% over the years. We are delighted to announce that this season, we have achieved a minimum of 9.5% Reb A yield, with some plants as high as 12% average yield, which is the highest ever seen in the stevia industry,” says Tom Fuzer, VP of Market Strategy at HOWTIAN.

This accomplishment is groundbreaking for food and beverage manufacturers who were unable to justify the more expensive price tag of stevia – historically 6 to 15 times the cost of artificial sweeteners. Thanks to Project Shennong and HOWTIAN’s newest stevia variants, the cost in use of stevia is quickly approaching parity with traditional artificial sugar substitutes.

“Companies once compelled by cost constraints to choose artificial sweeteners now no longer need to compromise. We anticipate the adoption of stevia to accelerate significantly in the most price sensitive markets, including beverages, snacking and sports nutrition,” notes Fuzer.

With production capacity of 8,000 metric tons, HOWTIAN is the largest stevia manufacturer in the world.

“We are proud to be at the forefront of the industry and to lead the innovations that’ll drive mass market adoption of natural ingredient solutions like stevia,” adds Fuzer.

HOWTIAN Interview in ConfectioneryNews: How Natural Sweeteners Became a Gamechanger

HOWTIAN Interview in ConfectioneryNews: How Natural Sweeteners Became a Gamechanger

September 15, 2022 — VP of Market Strategy Tom Fuzer was recently asked to provide the HOWTIAN perspective on the meteoric rise of natural sweeteners like stevia in an in-depth interview with ConfectioneryNews.

In the conversation, he explains that food and beverage products with sugar-reduction claims have increased by 13.5% over the past five years — and leading that charge are plant-derived ingredients, thanks to rising consumer demand for clean, natural sugar alternatives.

The article speaks not only to the growing market for natural sugar substitutes, but also the evolution of their taste and incorporation into food and beverage products. This of course includes the confectionery category, and we shared some insights on how to best formulate with stevia for candys and confections.

There are a variety of methods for successfully replacing sugar in confections and replicating its properties beyond sweetness, says Tom Fuzer, VP of Market Strategy at HOWTIAN, the world’s largest manufacturer of natural stevia leaf extracts. “One we’ve found particularly essential is the use of a bulking agent to supplement natural sweeteners and maintain the size of the candy. Natural bulking agents, such as erythritol, allulose, and soluble fiber are also often needed to provide a similar mouthfeel or chew.

The interview also addresses how the industry continues to face challenges with “outdated” perceptions of stevia as a bitter-tasting sugar substitute. It was a good opportunity to speak to the innovations stevia has seen over the years as more and more better-tasting glycosides, such as Reb D and Reb M, are commercialized. In fact, HOWTIAN’s own SoPure™ Stevia is well-reputed by our customers to be one of the most consistent-tasting stevia brands from batch to batch. This is all thanks to company’s vertically integrated manufacturing process and centrally managed production of raw stevia extract.

Read the full article here.

Formulating with Stevia in Candy and Confections

Formulating with Stevia in Candy and Confections

As health concerns mount over children’s diets and their sugar intake, stevia is taking a lead role in sugar reduction efforts for confectionery products

Sugary products can have an irresistible charm with children, but rising trends in tooth decay, weight gain, and chronic metabolic diseases such as diabetes have been alarming many parents and consumers. So it’s no surprise that food manufacturers have been looking at ways to reduce sugar in candies and snack foods marketed towards children. In addition, the issue has certainly caught the attention of policymakers, who have proposed regulations such as restricting the sale of sugary drinks and snacks in primary and secondary schools as well as other childcare institutions. Similarly, canteens and cafeterias are implementing measures to reduce the amount of sugar in lunches and meals provided by schools.

Reducing sugar is a top concern for consumers

The concerns around children’s diets is part of a larger trend — consumers of all ages are taking greater care with managing sugar in their diets. This need for health-promoting ingredients and nutritional foods is changing the face of product innovation for the confectionery industry in particular. In recent years, many of the newest product launches in confections have embraced the use of sugar substitutes such as stevia. As confectionery manufacturers are pressured and compelled to innovate, they’re finding however that reducing the need for added sugars in such products can come with some formulation challenges.

The challenge of reducing sugar in candy

When reformulating a candy product for sugar reduction, the two most important considerations are replicating the sweetness profile of sugar and bulking the candy back to its original size. For both these considerations, the use of sugar substitutes is needed. Natural plant sources, such as stevia and monk fruit, or artificial sweeteners such as aspartame, acesulfame potassium, or sucralose, can be used. Common bulking agents that are used with plant-based sources include erythritol, allulose, fiber, and maltodextrin. Artificial bulking agents include maltitol, xylitol, sorbitol, and polydextrose. Among such a wide array of sweetener options, stevia has garnered significant attention because it is natural, has zero calories, and can be 200 – 450 times sweeter than sugar. As a result, more and more candy products containing stevia have been launching in the marketplace.

In addition to replicating sweetness levels, a common challenge with reducing sugar in confectionery is retaining the texture, flavor, taste, and other properties of the candy’s formula. For example, in a traditional gummy candy, sugar plays a number of roles beyond its sweetness. It increases the volume of the candy, creates a soft texture, and also positively affects the chew time of the candy. If you merely replace the sugar content, many of the qualities of that candy would change with it.

Case Study: Formulating with stevia in a nougat

Recently, HOWTIAN’s comprehensive sugar reduction program with stevia helped Zero Sense Labs successfully launch a sugar-free nougat series of candies. This nougat comes in 4 flavors — matcha, date, sesame, and strawberry.

Ingredients: Maltitol, freeze-dried strawberry granules, whole milk powder, strawberry powder, inulin, butter, egg white, stevia extract
Image is copyrighted by Zero Sense Labs

The nougats carry a product label with low calorie, no added sugar, and low glycemic index claims. The candy line was able to achieve these claims by utilizing our SoPure Stevia specialty blend called Pegasus II, which contains minor glycosides that taste better than typical Reb A (see our previous edition of Formulas For Success to learn more about formulating with our SoPure Stevia specialty blends). To complement and supplement stevia in the formula, additional sweetness and bulking is provided by maltitol and inulin. This combination provides the texture and chewiness that is typically desired in a nougat.

Formulating with Maltitol

Maltitol is one of the most commonly used sugar alcohols in food and is about 70% as sweet as sugar. It has about half the calories of sugar and provides many similar properties. Since some maltitol is digested, the gastrointestinal effect isn’t as extreme when compared to other sugar alcohols. An average person may be okay with up to 40g in a serving before experiencing digestive discomfort. It is, however, produced by the hydrogenation of starch, which would then be considered an artificial sweetener.

Formulating with Inulin

Inulin is a fiber and is about 30% as sweet as sugar. However, inulin is currently in short supply so it may be prudent to ensure you’ve secured a stable supplier before committing to this ingredient in your formulation. The most common form of inulin is made from chicory root and a second is derived from Jerusalem artichoke. Since it is a fiber, ingesting above about 10g in a dose may cause digestive distress. Inulin does provide some browning and helps with digestion, when not consumed at too high of a level. The calories for inulin are about 1.5 per gram, so they are a little lower than maltitol.

Formulating with Trehalose

Before its reformulation, the nougat confection was sweetened using trehalose, which is a rare sugar that is about 25-45% as sweet as sugar. However, trehalose hardens over the shelf life of the product. It can change the chewy and sticky texture you want in a nougat to a more brittle consistency which may cause the candy to crack.

Trehalose is typically produced enzymatically from corn starch and naturally occurs in mushrooms, crustaceans, sunflower seeds, and breads at low levels. It currently counts as a sugar and can be labelled as a natural flavor at low use levels in countries that follow FEMA. For example, in beverages, these use levels can be under 3.5% per the guidance from FEMA 4600.

Trehalose doesn’t brown when baked and is stable at high temperatures and acidic conditions. While it doesn’t work as well in this nougat or a taffy application, it could be utilized used in other candy formulas or many formulas in need of sugar replacement.

Contact Us

If you need help with reformulating for a sugar reduction or replacement, HOWTIAN application engineers are available to help meet your sugar reduction challenges. We can assist in developing a customized sugar reduction strategy for your product(s) with cost-effective solutions and reliable supply. Please contact us to learn more.