Cocoa and dark chocolate have a wide variety of powerful antioxidants and other nutrients that can positively affect human health. Probiotic dark chocolate has the potential to be a new product in the growing number of functional foods. In this study, encapsulated potential probiotic Lactobacillus plantarum 564 and commercial probiotic Lactobacillus plantarum 299v were added in the production of dark chocolate. The results show very good survival of probiotic bacteria after production and during storage, reaching 10⁸cfu/g in the first 60 days and over 10⁶cfu/g up to 180 days. No statistically significant difference (p > 0.05) in chemical composition and no major differences in the volatile profiles between control and experimental chocolate samples were observed, indicating no impact of probiotic bacteria on compositional and sensory characteristics of dark chocolate. The sensory evaluation of control and both probiotic dark chocolate samples showed excellent sensory quality after 60 and 180 days of storage, demonstrating that probiotics did not affect aroma, texture and appearance of chocolate. Due to a high viability of bacterial cells and acceptable sensory properties, it can be concluded that encapsulated probiotics Lb. plantarum 564 and Lb. plantarum 299v could be successfully used in the production of probiotic dark chocolate.
Keywords: chocolate; encapsulation; probiotics; sensory analysis; viability; volatiles.