Christmas is about chocolate and this festive season, chocolate will be all about personalisation. As the holiday season approaches, traditional desserts will be lushly decorated with everything from 3D shapes such as Christmas tree chocolate chips, to romantic designs and geometric patterns.
Sparkling copper, touches of gold and vibrant colours are all key to decorating Christmas treats but it is the colour red that is most associated with the festive season and rounds out the traditional palette of colours used to celebrate at this time of year.
For bakers and confectioners, it has always been difficult to incorporate the colour red in edible designs without using synthetic colouring agents. Increasingly, consumers are becoming more careful about consuming fewer chemicals. They attentively read ingredient labels and choose products that contain no preservatives or E-numbers (denoting food additives) whenever possible.
Luckily, the colour red is no longer off limits and can now be derived from all natural ingredients in a patented process that is completely free of additives and synthetic dyes.
Back To Nature
Consumers are increasingly interested in authentic, natural foods and eschew artificial additives, and are more demanding than ever when it comes to aesthetics. This has given rise to the search for new products that enable confectioners to deliver customised decorative touches using healthy, natural ingredients.
One example of such a product is the Cocoart Collection, which is an array of printed transfer sheet-designs made from 100 percent natural ingredients. The collection is completely free of artificial and synthetic food dyes. The only ingredient in the decoration and relief food-printing product is cocoa powder made from 100 percent natural cocoa beans, grown under the equatorial sun.
A surprising selection of colours can be obtained using only cocoa beans including charcoal black, a rich nutty brown, royal purple and even deep red; conventionally, red food dyes have been created with artificial additives.
The innovative element in the collection is an all-natural, edible red colour. The designs in the collection offer the same colour stability as traditional food dyes and can be printed on sheets or rolls, enabling logos, images and messages to be easily applied to any food application.
The secret to obtaining such a broad palette of colours from cocoa powder lies in meticulously controlling a number of different parameters—such as selecting the right variety of cocoa beans, or altering the temperature and duration of roasting. By changing the mix of cocoa powders slightly, a range of naturally coloured dyes can be produced.
This is a welcome development for chefs and manufacturers who care about the provenance of the ingredients they use and for health-conscious consumers who care about what they eat and feed their children with but who do not want to give up the colourful, fun, decorative holiday treats they love.
From Chocolate Treat To Artistic Masterpiece
Chefs, bakers and confectioners know that consumers eat first with their eyes, and innovative confectionery designers are constantly pushing the boundaries of expression to create treats that tantalise the eye before they ever reach the taste buds. As such, artistic chocolate creations are no longer a novelty.
Across the globe, creative chocolatiers, bakers and pastry chefs are adding intricate patterns, logos, text and even illustrations to a variety of edible surfaces. The addition of a design, pattern or message instantly transforms products such as chocolate, confectionery, baked goods and even ice cream from a simple treat into an impressive work of art that is almost too beautiful to eat—almost.
With all-natural products in their arsenal, gourmet chefs can create a huge range of designs from classic to contemporary, trendy to timeless, and individually customised to standardised.
A palette of completely natural colours enables a variety of masterpieces to be produced. The range of possibilities for adding a touch of originality and luxury to edible surfaces with such products is limited only by the designer’s skill and imagination. Notably for manufacturers and retailers, the opportunities in terms of branding and creatively targeting new consumer segments are endless.
Staying On Trend
The festive period is nearly synonymous with sweet treats and chefs and manufacturers are experimenting with everything from classic designs to trendy options in the hope of catching the holiday shopper’s eye this season. Just as fashion designs change with the seasons, food trends also come and go. Here is a snapshot of what can be expected to be in demand this holiday period.
This Christmas, chocolate will be all about personalisation, 3D shapes and clean labels. Expectations include a surge in warm, coppery shades that bring to mind cinnamon, nutmeg and other festive flavours with a dash of metallic shine. Copper harmonises well with a dark glaze and can also be combined with violet, the colour of royalty, to create a luxurious effect. Decorative embellishments like winter flowers, snowflakes and autumn leaves will be used to elevate pralines, truffles and macaroons.
Bakers and confectioners can draw inspiration from diverse sources, such as nature, art and music, and channel, that creativity into edible masterpieces that capture the imagination of consumers. Playing with colour and texture can lead to chocolate treats that look either naturalistic and artisanal, or playful like a cartoonish Santa or reindeer, or traditional like an ornately decorated Christmas bauble.
Some chocolate designers and manufacturers may prefer their creations to recall traditional holiday scenes with ornate and intricate designs. But sometimes, the best policy is to keep it simple. Even something as uncomplicated as a red truffle framed by chocolate antlers can transform a simple yule log into a whimsical centrepiece for the holiday table.
Finally, natural shades punctuated with metallic accents will possibly increase in popularity this holiday season, in line with a growing interest in healthy ingredients and green-living.
The confectionery industry is extremely competitive and chefs are constantly on the lookout for ways to make their creations stand out from the crowd.
In addition, image transfer technology offers manufacturers an endless array of possibilities for personalising or branding their products, producing seasonal variants or even inspiring entirely new products and applications. For retailers, it can open up avenues for a more innovative chocolate and confectionery line-up, and increase revenues via a broader premium segment.
For all of these reasons, we expect that both food industry professionals and chocolate lovers will place beautiful, all-natural chocolate confections at the top of their holiday wish lists.