Consumers seeking indulgent grain-based foods may like the ideas of bakers who indulge in ingredient innovation. Chocolate sourced from a specific place or made to a certain size may add intrigue. Greek yogurt coatings have become another option for indulgent baked foods. Also, do not forget the approaching holidays and the related colorful, flavorful themes that may serve as ways to add extravagance to cupcakes.

More ways to innovate with chocolate may be on the way due to planned expansions from chocolate ingredient suppliers.

Cargill Cocoa & Chocolate recently invested in its Wormer facility in The Netherlands. New laboratory facilities include a microbiological and technical laboratory for product and quality control as well as an application laboratory that provides development and recipe formulation assistance for customers.

The facility is home to Cargill’s Gerkens cocoa powders.

“Gerkens range of Dutch dark premium cocoa powders combines an intense dark color with a smooth chocolaty taste that can be used in any application,” said Courtney LeDrew, marketing manager for Cargill Cocoa & Chocolate. “As a result, commercial bakers and snack producers can develop great tasting products using less cocoa powder to achieve desired color. Generally powders with a higher fat content are included in gourmet or high-end bakery items.”

Within the range, Gerkens Holland DS150, which has a premium dark color, is suited for use in luxurious desserts and ice cream, according to Cargill Cocoa & Chocolate. The smooth taste of Dutch dark powders means bakers do not need to use sugar to mask bitterness that may be associated with dark powders, according to the company.

Puratos, which has a U.S. office in Cherry Hill, N.J., deals in Belgian chocolate. A water-based technology in Cremfil Ultim, which is 25% Belcolade Belgian chocolate, prevents cake from drying out. Cryst-o-fil is a base that uses pre-crystallized technology and includes a minimum of 50% Belgian chocolate.

More chocolate creating capacity is coming from Barry Callebaut, Zurich, Switzerland. The company plans to invest in core chocolate molding capacity in a facility in St. Albans, Vt., and it also has agreed to purchase the assets of the Chatham, Ont., facility of Batory Industries Co. Together with its facility in Robinson, Ill., Barry Callebaut will have two facilities to service customers in the Midwest market. The expansion projects will accommodate growth in the region by adding approximately 60,000 tonnes to production capacity.

“The increase of our production capacities will support the further development of our industrial business in the region while also gaining geographic advantage with our customers by adding a key Midwest facility,” said Laura Bergan, a marketing manager for Barry Callebaut, which has a North American office in Chicago. “The investments will include additional molding capacity for all our customer base, including our baked goods customers.”

Barry Callebaut’s French premium gourmet brand, Cacao Barry, this year launched Zephyr, a white chocolate.

“White chocolate is trending for baked goods and confection, and this premium white chocolate offering will satisfy consumers’ sweet cravings,” Ms. Bergan said. “Zephyr is a slightly sweet white chocolate that is the perfect balance of wholesome milk and rich cocoa butter taste, for pastry chefs and chocolatiers in the United States.

“Cacao Barry developed this modern white chocolate recipe in response to growing demand for a less sweet and more fluid white chocolate. Like many consumers in other countries, Americans want to satisfy their sweet cravings with less sugar. Zephyr is a new generation of white chocolate that meets that demand and craving. This fine balance gives Zephyr its exceptional roundness, while its unparalleled smoothness is perfect for molding, enrobing, macaroons, fillings and mousse preparations. It also is ideal for all pastry applications.”

Last year Barry Callebaut introduced its Micro Chip (60,000 count chocolate chip). Because of its small size, the chip disperses more evenly over the tongue, which may give Barry Callebaut customers the opportunity to use less chocolate in applications, according to Barry Callebaut. The chips are small enough to fit through pastry piping bags and in other manufacturing processes in which larger chips are unable to maneuver. The chips may be used in such baked foods as cookies, cakes and desserts as well as beverages, confectionery items and dairy products. Using the chips may result in fewer calories per serving.

Another recent innovation for Barry Callebaut is Greek yogurt confectionery coating, which may be used as a coating or chip, Ms. Bergan said. Potential applications include snack bars and baked foods.

Clasen Quality Coatings, Inc., Madison, Wis., also offers Greek yogurt coatings. They are made with strained Greek yogurt powders. They have a tart, less sweet, creamy flavor profile that may mimic that of actual Greek yogurt.

Cupcake opportunity

Indulgent innovations in cupcakes are on display at in-store bakeries. Cupcake sales at U.S. in-store bakeries rose to $337 million in 2011 from $233 million in 2008, according to The Nielsen Co.’s Perishables Group.

Crumbs Bake Shop, Inc., New York, is a leader in cupcake craftsmanship with more than 50 varieties of cupcakes baked fresh daily. In October the company executed a securities purchase agreement with accredited investors, and agreed to sell 4,456,968 shares of its common stock at a price of $2.21 per share, resulting in gross proceeds of $9,849,900.

“Clearly we now have the desired additional capital to fund our new store growth strategy and to strengthen our financial position,” said Julian R. Geiger, president and chief executive officer of Crumbs. “With our capital needs now met, we can execute our real estate strategy of opening up to 25 new in-line stores and kiosks in hand-picked super regional malls in 2013.”

Crumbs in October had 54 locations, including 35 in the New York metro area, six on the West coast, five in Washington, one in Virginia, five in Chicago and two in Boston.

Seasonal cupcakes for the fall from Crumbs include candy caramel apple, which has caramel cream cheese frosting dipped in caramel with chopped pecans, and harvest pumpkin, which has vanilla frosting covering in orange sugar with a pretzel stem.

Sprinkles, another chain that deals in cupcake creations, has California locations in Beverly Hills, La Jolla, Newport beach and Palo Alto as well as other locations in Chicago, Dallas, Washington, Houston and Scottsdale, Ariz.

Sprinkles offers cupcakes in such flavors as banana, chai latte, dark chocolate, ginger lemon, salty caramel and triple cinnamon. Since the cupcakes are made without the aid of preservatives, the company encourages customers to eat them that day.

To help customers save on labor costs, Bake’n Joy, North Andover, Mass., recently introduced 2.5-oz cupcake batters in the varieties of chocolate, yellow and red velvet. Batters are already mixed, measured and deposited into liners. All that is left is baking and decorating.

At the retail level, products from Sugar Bowl Bakery, Hayward, Calif., are distributed nationally in Trader Joe’s and World Market. They also are carried in retailers such as Costco, Safeway and Walgreens. Items such as palmiers, madeleines and brownie bites fall into the smaller dessert trend and may qualify as portion control items.

Sugar Bowl Bakery includes a retail division. In its products the company uses such ingredients as Belgian chocolate and butter from Challenge Dairy, a cooperative association responsible for the marketing and distribution of dairy products from 450 family-owned dairies.

Flavors and decorations for indulgent items are numerous.

The Flavorburst product line from Clasen Quality Coatings, Inc. features flavored coatings based on seasonality and market trends. Seasonal options include caramel apple cupcakes and pumpkin cupcakes with cream cheese filling.

Clasen offers cappuccino drops for cookies, or a swirl white fudge raspberry-flavored coating for a vanilla bean cheesecake. Cinnamon cream cheese and Greek yogurt-flavored coating may enrobe a breakfast bar, and pineapple flavored coating is available to pan nuts in a trail mix. During the holiday season, companies may use dark chocolate mint coating and peppermint candy sprinkling in cake pops.

Watson, Inc., West Haven, Conn., offers edible glitter that may be baked on without browning or burning in temperatures up to 450 degrees Fahrenheit. The glitter is freeze/thaw stable and thus is available for use in frozen desserts and frozen baked foods. The glitter is available in soluble and insoluble forms and in flake sizes ranging from 50 mesh to a quarter inch.

“In most applications soluble edible glitter made from gum Arabic (also known as acacia gum) is the preferred choice, and it can be used on baked, fried and frosted products,” Watson said. “However, some applications require a glitter product with a slower solubility rate.”

Watson manufactures edible glitter with various solubility rates for use in high-active water systems. An insoluble product is available using sodium alginate, which is stable in a water environment for a prolonged period of time.

Barry Callebaut expanded in the indulgence category in February of this year when it agreed to acquire Mona Lisa Food Products, Inc., a chocolate decorations company based in Hendersonville, N.C.

“The Mona Lisa product lines include multiple decorations and premium toppings to make any grain-based item more indulgent,” Ms. Bergan said. “The product line consists of curls, blossoms of many varieties and colors to showcase themed indulgent treats or holiday items.”

Nuts and fruits for nutrition

Nuts and fruits may add flavor and visual appeal to indulgent items as well as potential health benefits.

The California Raisin Marketing Board, Fresno, Calif., promotes such recipes with raisins as those for brownies, spice waffle cookies and oatmeal cookies. A 40-gram serving of raisins has 2 grams of fiber.

The Almond Board of California, Modesto, Calif., promotes such recipes as those for curry chocolate almond bars, raspberry tarts with almond cream and French macarons. There are 3.5 grams of dietary fiber and 35% of the Daily Value of vitamin E in 1 oz of California almonds.

Naturex, Avignon, France, offers a selection of processed fruit ingredients in a variety of formats, including powders, granules, crisps and extracts.

“Indulgence is very big business,” said Antoine Dauby, marketing director at Naturex. “For example, sales of sweet bakery products such as cakes and biscuits were worth €8.56 billion across Western Europe in 2011, according to Mintel. Clearly it is a very large market indeed, and a great opportunity.”

Mr. Dauby also described the market as competitive.

“These market conditions mean it is very important for manufacturers to create excitement among shoppers by finding a point of difference that adds value to their proposition,” he said. “Our ingredients can help companies do this by improving their recipes in a way that is in tune with the trend for more natural and healthier products, enabling them to achieve standout with indulgent concepts.”

The number of indulgent concepts may seem endless with such ingredient options as chocolate, fruit, nuts, glitter, fillings and decorations.