Confectionery comprises two main groups: sugar products and chocolate products.
Sugar is an important ingredient in most confectionery products, where its sweet taste is only one of the reasons for using it; equally important is its ability to enhance other flavours.
In confectionery production, not only sugar, but also inverted sugar (equal quantities of glucose and fructose) as well as various types of glucose syrup are used. Inverted sugar is primarily added to prevent crystallisation in marshmallows. Glucose syrup is used to balance the sweetness, but in some cases also to control crystallisation.
Sugar adds sweetness to confectionery products. Other important functions in sugar confectionery are to provide:
- Texture – the ability of sugar to control the crystallisation process is very important to the texture and form of sugar confectionery products such as caramel fillings, toffee and dragées. In hard toffee the ability of melted sugar to create a glassy, firm structure is also utilised. To prevent crystallisation in certain products, glucose syrup is often used.
- Keeping qualities – a high sugar content and a low water content in most confectionery products ensure good keeping qualities.
- Flavour – sugar adds sweetness and enhances other flavours and aromas.
- Colour – decomposition products from heating the sugar influence the colour. This is particularly important in giving caramels and toffee their characteristic taste.
- Volume – in many confectionery products, sugar is the main ingredient.
- The sugar composition in confectionery products varies. In general, ordinary sugar (saccharose), inverted sugar and glucose syrup are used. In hard toffee, the saccharose content is 60-70%, and the glucose content 30-40%. In soft caramels and toffee the saccharose content is approx. 25%, while the remaining sugar is mainly glucose syrup. The sugar content in marshmallows is 70-80% and 20-30% glucose syrup.
Chocolate confectionery is cocoa-based products. In chocolate products, the sugar mainly affects the:
- Taste – sugar adds sweetness and balances the slightly bitter taste of the cocoa. In milk chocolate the milk powder also adds sweetness, and consequently the sugar content is lower than in plain chocolate.
- Texture – sugar has an impact on the viscosity of the chocolate and thus the texture and form of the end product. Inverted sugar, which is a mixture of equal quantities of glucose and fructose, is mainly used for chocolate fillings because it does not crystallise.
Chocolate is a mixture of ground cocoa and sugar in cocoa butter. The grinding enhances the fine texture of the chocolate, and the sugar neutralises the natural bitterness of the cocoa and adds volume to the chocolate. In most chocolate products the sugar content is 40-50% (weight/volume). Other ingredients are cocoa butter, cocoa powder, milk powder and possibly vegetable fat. Milk chocolate contains 10% lactose (milk sugar).