Flavorful and indulgent ice creams were sampled at Worldwide Food Expo thanks to suppliers' innovative inclusions

Photo courtesy of Jana's Classics
Four days was not enough to taste every new ice cream flavor combination being sampled at the recent Worldwide Food Expo show. Inclusion suppliers have definitely been busy the past two years, as the offerings were out-of-this-world delicious. And, surprisingly, many of them were low or no sugar, in efforts to be part of the hottest trend these days in ice cream: Low-carbohydrate and no-sugar-added. (Don't miss this month's Tharp & Young column on page 37 for the low-down on formulating such ice cream products.)

Indeed, no-sugar-added inclusions were plentiful on the show floor. And offerings ranged from crunches such as butter pecan, chocolate, graham and shortbread, to brownie bits, miniature chocolate chip cookies and mini caramel-filled chocolate cups.

One supplier sampled a Low-carb Vanilla Fudge Delight ice cream, which is low-carbohydrate no-sugar-added vanilla ice cream with low-carbohydrate chewy fudge variegate and protein-fortified, low-carbohydrate chewy chocolate chunks.

Other low-carbohydrate ice cream creations included Caramel Brownie Overload, Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough and Mocha Almond Fudge.

Photo courtesy of Kerry

Other than low-carb

Besides every inclusion supplier touting its no-sugar-added inclusions for low-carbohydrate formulating, other inclusion trends included ethnic flavors. Though Hispanic flavors were the most popular, European flavors were quite fashionable, too.

A superpremium Crème Brulee novelty bar features brulee ice cream swirled with a burnt sugar variegate and dipped in a sweet vanilla crème coating with burnt sugar candy crunches.

For the Greek gods and goddesses at the show, Baklava ice cream is made by blending pistachio toffee and baked phyllo dough pieces into honey nut ice cream swirled with honey caramel.

The Royal Windsor Family would have been impressed by the Rum Raisin Bread Pudding ice cream, which is rum raisin ice cream blended with bread pudding pieces and swirled with a bourbon caramel sauce.

Latino ice cream flavors were quite elaborate. Pudin De Platano Con Arroz is banana ice cream blended with canelas (cinnamon cookies) and praline coconut swirled with pudin de arroz (rice pudding).

Strawberry Cajeta Tostada is cinnamon sugar tortilla chips swirled with a caramel ribbon in a strawberry ice cream, while Tres Lecha Con Fresa is tres leches (three milk) cake pieces in tres leche ice cream swirled with strawberry sauce and tres leche sauce.

Photo courtesy of Kerry
Italian gelato is bound to be this coming summer's biggest supermarket hit, as gelato mix has been modified to run on current ice cream filling equipment. When packed in clear containers and topped with indulgent inclusions, consumers can have a bit of Italy in their home kitchen. And here's the best part: Gelato is lower in fat than regular ice cream, yet still has a velvety, smooth, rich flavor and mouthfeel.

An extensive array of flavor combinations were sampled at the show. Taffi del Caffe is coffee gelato topped with chocolate-covered coffee toffee drizzled with chocolate sauce. Nocciola di Torino is hazelnut gelato topped with butter roasted almonds. Amore del Lampone is raspberry gelato topped with chocolate flakes and white raspberry almond bark drizzled with raspberry chocolate sauce. Flambe della Banana is banana gelato topped with pound cake and cognac candy pieces drizzled with banana flambé sauce. And the one you can imagine enjoying by candlelight after a gondola excursion on the Grand Canal in Venice: Romantico di Bosco, which is wildberry gelato topped with mixed berry cobbler bark drizzled with raspberry chocolate sauce.

Photo courtesy of Kerry

Other trends

Consumers historically have not consumed ice cream for nutritional reasons. It's usually purely for self gratification. However, today's consumers will often choose nutrition, if presented the option. This is apparent by the many calcium-enriched ice creams in the marketplace.

Expanding on this trend, inclusion suppliers showcased ingredients that can boost ice cream's protein content, fortify it with soy protein and enhance it with real fruits and nuts. For example, soy protein brownie bites can be used in regular chocolate ice cream in order to make a "contains soy protein" claim.

Fruit is an easy way to boost nutrition, and some fruit suppliers offer infused real fruit pieces that remain soft and intact in ice cream.

Certain fruits are getting great press these days thanks to research indicating that they possess noteworthy health benefits. In the past 10 years, researchers have identified an array of components in fruits, specifically berries and cherries, to position these fruits as nutraceutical ingredients. What many researchers emphasize is that it's the combination of phytochemicals (naturally occurring chemicals from plants) in these fruits that makes them powerful ingredients.

Photo courtesy of Kerry
The key functional components that all berries and cherries contain are anthocyanins, which act as pigments to give these tree fruits their deep color. Generally speaking, the darker the berry or cherry, the greater the anthocyanin content. Anthocyanins are a major component of the phenolic/flavonoid class. Research indicates that anthocyanins act as antioxidants, neutralizing the negative by-products of metabolism called free radicals. These free radicals can damage DNA molecules and lead to cancer. In addition, anthocyanin activity has been linked to enhancing vision, controlling diabetes, improving circulation and retarding the effects of aging, particularly loss of memory and motor skills.

Another phenolic compound found in many of these tree fruits is ellagic acid, which has been linked with blocking various hormone reactions and metabolic pathways associated with the development of cancer. The ellagic acid content of raspberries and blackberries is about five times greater than in other fruits.

Photo courtesy of Kerry
Berries and cherries also contain salicylic acid, which has been shown to have similar protective effects against heart disease as aspirin.

One turnkey ice cream ingredient supplier sampled Cherrybo-Berry ice cream, which is a hand-picked orchard of dark burgundy cherries and raspberry-filled mini chocolate cups plunked into a rich cherry ice cream with a twist of chocolate fudge bark.

The popularity of nuts in ice cream is also likely to continue to grow thanks to FDA's July 2003 approval of the qualified health claim: Scientific evidence suggests but does not prove that eating 1.5 oz per day of most nuts, as part of a diet low in saturated fat and cholesterol, may reduce the risk of heart disease. The agency's approval of this claim was in response to a petition filed by the International Tree Nut Council Nutrition Research & Education Foundation in August 2002.

All tree nuts are good sources of healthful unsaturated fats, which have been shown to lower blood cholesterol levels, and contain a variety of other potential cardio-protective components such as copper, beta-sitosterol, magnesium, omega-3 fatty acids, potassium, selenium and vitamin E.

Nuts have traditionally been an important ingredient in ice cream, and you can bet they will be showing up in more flavor combinations this summer, particularly in low-carb ice creams, as nuts contribute relatively little carbohydrate at the usage levels in most formulations.

Photo courtesy of Kerry

Off the wall

In the end, ice cream is intended to be fun. And fun, indeed, is what inclusion suppliers excel in. Pecan Danish brings a new meaning to breakfast. This breakfast pastry flavor combines cinnamon roll pieces and praline pecans with swirls of white icing ribbon in cinnamon-Danish flavored ice cream.

Need a heartier breakfast? There's always Banana Fosters French Toast, which is a blend of praline pecans and French toast pieces with a swirl of bourbon caramel sauce in banana ice cream. Bacon and sausage are optional.

To continue on this intoxicating journey, one can escape to the islands with Mojito water ice, a frozen blend of rum and limejuice with speckles of mint leaves.

However, one can't forget their daily dose of vegetables. One supplier formulated Corn Chowder ice cream, which is a blend of diced potatoes, onions, red and green bell peppers, and cheese sprinkles in corn chowder-flavored ice cream.

Sidebar: WWFE Inclusion Exhibitors

This year's dairy show featured an array of ice cream inclusion suppliers.
Here's their contact information.

A Herd of Laughter Ice Cream Co.

Barry Callebaut USA Inc.

Blommer Chocolate

Bloomfield Bakers

Dairy House

Ellison Bakery

Forbes Chocolate

Gertrude Hawk Ingredients Inc.

Graceland Fruit Inc.

The Green Valley Pecan Co.

Guernsey Bel, A Kerry Co.

John B. Sanfilippo & Sons Inc.

Kerry Sweet Ingredients

Linette Quality Chocolates

Lyons Magnus

Nestle Branded Ingredients

Pecan Deluxe Candy Co.

South West Nut

Star Kay White Inc.

Superior Nut Co.

Terri Lynn Inc.

Young Pecan Co.