While baked goods continue to face pressure from health campaigners and government agency Public Health England, what role can chocolate play in sugar reduction?

As bakers seek to bring products in line with government sugar reduction targets, help could come from an unlikely ingredient – chocolate.

Using chocolate with a higher cocoa content could help to do just that, suggests supplier Guittard Chocolate Company.

“The great thing about chocolate is the higher the cacao content, the less sugar there is in it,” says Guittard European director Erik Bruun Bindslev. “Switching to higher-percentage chocolates that have naturally present sweet flavour profiles is a great way of reducing sugar in recipes.”

He notes that Guittard’s Madagascar Criollo 65% chocolate, for example, is naturally sweet with fruity notes.

Barry Callebaut has taken a different route to sugar reduction, launching its Eclipse 1% added sugar Milk Chocolate late last year.  It has a 54% cocoa content and contains no artificial sweeteners or fillers.

Described as “darker, smoother and more intense” than other milk chocolate, Callebaut says Eclipse can be used in bakery items in the same quantities as standard chocolate, and can offer a 20-50% sugar reduction in items such as brownies compared to standard milk chocolate.

UK Chocolate Academy chef Beverly Dunkley advises that those making items such as mousse or ganache with Eclipse use ingredients with a lower fat percentage than usual – swapping double for whipping cream, for example.

Puratos supplies the Belcolade chocolate range that includes three low- and no-sugar-added options, in which the sugar is replaced with maltitol.

“Each of the low-sugar and no-sugar-added lines offers a different flavour profile, allowing bakers to put their own touch on finished goods,” says Matthew Bratt, patisserie NPD and innovation centre manager at Puratos UK.

Cargill, meanwhile, has recently invested $5m (£4m) in its site in Belgium to help it meet growing demand for reduced sugar products and enable it to use a wide range of sugar replacers.

While less sugar can mean less sweetness, ingredients manufacturer Dawn Foods doesn’t see that as a bad thing.

“Consumer tastes are evolving and the popularity we have seen in reduced-sugar mixes demonstrates consumers are getting used to different levels and sources of sweetness in bakery products,” notes marketing manager Jacqui Passmore.

However, loss of sweetness isn’t the only issue when it comes to sugar reduction, points out Laura Sherwood, bakery technologist at Campden BRI. “Sugar’s humectancy and ability to bind water enables the product to have a long, mould-free shelf-life. Its functionality for aeration during mixing is key for sponges and stable foam batters. It affects the temperature of starch gelatinisation during baking and final cake volume, not to mention its effect on product colour.”

A degree of experimentation will be required for anyone looking to replicate recipes as closely as possible while reducing sugar content.

“Changing a recipe for any product will require trial and improvement. It’s all about experimenting and finding out what works. If the chocolate doesn’t quite cut the desired sweetness level, try adding a small amount of a natural alternative,” Bruun Bindslev adds.

It is important to note, however, that some sugar replacements can be costly and will have an effect on price. Some have also come under scrutiny of late for their potential to cause gut problems.

So, while there are challenges, chocolate could be part of the solution for bakers looking to reduce sugar in their recipes.

Chocolate brownie


Unsalted butter, 250g

Eclipse Belgian Milk Chocolate, 300g

Eggs, 200g

Caster sugar, 250g

Plain flour, 80g

Van Houten cocoa powder, 65g


1. Melt together the butter and Eclipse chocolate.

2.            Whisk the eggs and caster sugar to a high foam.

3.            Gently stir in the cooled down chocolate and butter mixture.

4.            Sieve together the flour and cocoa powder and fold into the mixture.

5.            Pour the mixture into a four-sided baking tray lined with silicone paper.

6.            Bake at 160°C for 15-20 minutes.

7.            Allow to cool before freezing.

Source: Barry Callebaut

Morning muffins


All-purpose flour, 60g

Light rye flour, 30g

Baking soda, 1 tsp

Ground cinnamon, 1/2 tsp

Salt, ⅛ tsp

Unsweetened apple sauce, 210g

Whole milk, 60ml

Vegetable oil, 60ml

Honey, 80g

Freshly grated orange zest, 1 tsp

Old-fashioned rolled oats, 60g

Guittard Semisweet Chocolate Baking Chips, 170g


1. Preheat the oven to 400°F/200°C.

2.         Lightly butter the cups of a standard 12-cup muffin tin.

3.            In a small bowl combine the all-purpose flour, rye flour, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt.

4.            In a large bowl, with a hand mixer, beat together the apple sauce, milk, vegetable oil, honey, and orange zest until smooth (about 2 minutes).

5.            Stir in the flour mixture until just combined.

6.            Fold in the oats and chocolate chips.

7.            Spoon the batter into the prepared muffin cups, filling them three-quarters full.

8.            Bake for 13 to 15 minutes, until a toothpick inserted into the centre of a muffin comes out clean. Let the muffins cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then remove to a wire rack to cool completely.

9.            Store wrapped tightly in plastic wrap in the freezer for up to 1 month. To defrost, microwave for 1 minute on the defrost setting, then lightly toast in a toaster oven before serving.

Source: Guittard