Background: While there has been an increasing interest in the health properties of chocolate, limited research has looked into the changes of antioxidants occurring in the time span from production to the best before date, which was a period of 18 months in this study. Methods: Humidity, ash, pH, acidity, fiber, carotenoids, retinols, tocopherols, sugars, proteins, theobromine, caffeine, polyphenols, fats, the peroxide value, organic acids, and volatile compounds, along with the sensory profile, were monitored at 18-week intervals for 18 months under conditions simulating a factory warehouse or a point of sale. Results: At the end of the storage period, more polyphenols were lost (64% and 87%) than vitamin E (5% and 14%) in cocoa mass and cocoa powder, respectively. Conversely, a greater loss in vitamin E (34% and 86%) than in polyphenols (19% and 47%) was shown in the hazelnut paste and gianduja chocolate, respectively. The sensory profiling of cocoa mass, cocoa powder, and hazelnut paste revealed increases in grittiness and astringency, as well as decreases in melting, bitterness, and toasted aroma. Moreover, in the hazelnut paste and gianduja chocolate, oiliness increased with a toasted and caramel aroma. Furthermore, dark chocolate was more gritty, acidic, and bitter. Milk chocolate lost its nutty aroma but maintained its sweetness and creaminess. Conclusions: These results should contribute an important reference for companies and consumers, in order to preserve the antioxidants and understand how antioxidants and sensory properties change from the date of production until the best before date.
- Cocoa-based ingredients
- Italian chocolate