By Bernard Pacyniak
Candy Industry

getting fresh: A 'shout out' to Paco

Typically, it’s an intense week whenever the National Confectioners Association’s ALL CANDY EXPO® rolls into town in the middle of May. Let’s face it, the former candy capital of the world understands the importance of having confectioners in town to showcase the latest treats, thus facilitating a bit of sweet and savory wheelin’ and dealin’ on the shores of Lake Michigan.

This year was no exception, although my week kicked off a little earlier with a visit to Barry Callebaut’s Chocolate Academy on a late Sunday afternoon just prior to the show opening on Tuesday. Chef Paco Torreblanca, recognized as the Best European Pastry Chef in 1990 and also an Ambassador of Cacao Barry Chocolates, was being feted by Barry Callebaut with a cocktail and dessert reception.

Not being that familiar with Torreblanca, I decided to not only accept the invite, but also to secure an interview with the 3-star Michelin master so we could talk about his approach to chocolate artistry.

Chef Paco Torreblanca passionately explains his technique to guests ruminating through his book as assistants place examples of his work on tables for sampling.

And while Torreblanca only speaks Spanish and French -- by the way, a big thank you to Barry Callebaut’s Miriam Madrigal for translating -- his passion for the art transcends language barriers. For the reception, Torreblanca and his crew prepared a wide range of mini pastries and chocolate treats, all exquisite.

As I started wrapping up my interview (look for it in the July issue ofCandy Industry), Torreblanca asked if he could test my palate, noting that I had a better-than-average familiarity of chocolate confections. And while I agreed with him about my chocolate knowledge, I pointed out that my taste buds were rather pedestrian. But hey, since he was kind enough to patiently answer my questions, I thought I should at least return the favor and respond to his request.

The first truffle he had me taste imparted a truly earthy and distinct taste, but for the love of Paco, I couldn’t nail it down. Torreblanca tried to provide some hints, signaling that I should make the connection between what I see -- a classic truffle -- and what I comprehend (pointing to my head): the flavor of the chocolate ganache.

Unfortunately, I failed to make the obvious connection. With a somewhat sad smile, he explained that the ganache was made using white truffles. In my defense, I don’t often have white truffles, so I believe Torreblanca gave me the benefit of the doubt on that one. So much for being a food critic.

Undaunted, I continued on, trying a crispy onion chocolate -- the onion is caramelized for its sweetness, not for its savory flavor -- and a goat cheese truffle. And while I was surprised by the choice of ingredients, the tasting confirmed Torreblanca’s overriding philosophy, that of simplicity, definition and balance.

From my perspective, the chef’s selection of ingredients is combined in such a manner so as not to overwhelm, but rather, to elevate. Typical of all great masters, Torreblanca has a passion for his art, one that reveals itself  both visually and sensually in texture and taste. And his books are works of art in and of themselves. Check out his Web site,, and find out for yourselves why he truly deserves a party wherever he goes.

Barry Callebaut launches ProBenefit

Barry Callebaut’s newProBenefit chocolate lets consumers have their chocolate and health benefits, too. Designed to help consumers maintain a healthy intestinal balance,ProBenefit chocolate -- enhanced with probiotic bacterial cultures -- now is available for the North American market. In addition to its probiotic health benefits, the chocolate is kosher-certified, offers a long shelf life and does not require refrigeration.

Available in milk and dark chocolate,ProBenefit helps the body to maintain a healthy balance of “good” bacteria, while promoting optimal intestinal function and good health. To ensure the survival of the probiotics throughout digestion, Barry Callebaut uses a special production system that ensures a homogenous blend of probiotics in chocolate within a restricted temperature range.

“While probiotics have been used in dairy foods like yogurt for some time, our studies have found that chocolate is a superior carrier for the intestinal delivery of probiotic bacteria,” says Rich Benson, director of research and development, Barry Callebaut North America. “In fact, the survival rate of probiotics in chocolate was found to be three times higher than that of the milk matrix and probiotic yogurt drink we tested.”

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TruSweets introduces new size, packaging for candy

Answering consumers’ requests for portion-control treats, natural and organic candy manufacturer TruSweets, LLC has launched a new snack pack size for itsSurf Sweets Gummy Bears and new Sour Berry Bears. The company also has unveiled a new packaging design for all its candy.

The new 0.9-oz. snack packs each contain one serving of candy, 80 calories and 60% of one’s daily allowance of Vitamin C. The suggested retail price is $0.79 per pack.

The company’s new packaging was redesigned to be kid-friendly and reflect the idea of California, healthy-living, which is what inspired the brand.

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New Clif Bar flavor makes its debut

Berkeley, Calif.-based Clif Bar & Co. has added a White Chocolate Macadamia Nut flavor to its line of energy bars. Made with all-natural and certified-organic ingredients, the newClif Bar is free from trans fats, hydrogenated oils, high-fructose corn syrup, and artificial colors, flavors, sweeteners and preservatives. The White Chocolate Macadamia NutClif Baris available in natural foods, grocery, club and sports specialty stores nationwide, at a suggested retail price of $1.39.

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Ring Pop earns kosher certification

Bazooka Candy Brands’ (a division of Topps Inc.) best-selling candy,Ring Pop, has been kosher certified by the Orthodox Union. New packaging for the product features the “OU” symbol and will begin shipping to retailers nationwide in August.

“Working with the Orthodox Union, the top organization for kosher certification in the world, we can now bringRing Popto an entirely new, and discerning, consumer base that has never before been able to enjoy our products,” says Ari Weinstock, director of marketing, Bazooka Candy Brands.

The Orthodox Union monitors all aspects of production by supervising the process by which the food is prepared, examining the ingredients used to make the food and regularly inspecting the processing facilities to make sure that its standards are met.

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sweet of the week: Seeds of Change certified organic chocolate bars

Preserving biodiversity and promoting sustainable, organic farming is the mission at Seeds of Change, maker of a line of certified organic seed and food products. Now, the company is adding chocolate to that lineup. Seeds of Change has introduced six new USDA-certified organic chocolate bars in the following flavors: Milk Chocolate, Milk Chocolate with Puffed Grains, Dark Chocolate, Dark Chocolate with Cherries & Vanilla, Dark Chocolate with Coconut, and Dark Chocolate with Mango & Cashew. The bars recently became available at Whole Foods Markets and natural food stores nationwide. They also can be ordered online The suggested retail price per bar is $3.69. Seeds of Change is a division of Mars, Inc.