COLUMBIA — A blend of dark and milk chocolate studded with peanuts, sea salt and bits of cocoa is the new flavor of MU.
Mizzou Crunch, an artisan chocolate bar created by MU students and Patric Chocolate, went on sale last week.
The 2.3-ounce bar costs $7.99 and is available at all Patric Chocolate retailers, including Hy-Vee, World Harvest, Hoss's Market & Rotisserie and the Root Cellar.
A team of five juniors and seniors studying food science at MU developed the bar from branding to flavor profiling. Each batch of 1,000 is handcrafted, said Patric Chocolate owner Alan "Patric" McClure.
At least 10 batches were tested before landing on the final product, said Azlin Mustapha, associate professor of food sciences and director of graduate studies at MU's College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources.
Although the team didn't make the chocolate, they collaborated with Patric Chocolate on the "sophisticated layering of the flavor profile" of dark and milk chocolate and texture, Mustapha said.
Patric Chocolate uses just three ingredients as the foundation of a basic chocolate bar — cacao, cocoa butter and organic cane sugar, McClure said. Accessorizing is done through the addition of nuts and other flavors.
In Mizzou Crunch, the cocoa nibs and peanut chunks add texture, and the bittersweet flavor comes from pairing both dark and milk chocolate with sea salt.
The peanuts play off the chocolate to match the MU colors, Mustapha said.
Chocolate connoisseurs get a taste of Europe when they bite into the bar because of its combination of bitter and milk chocolates, said Randy Mertens, media relations coordinator with the College of Agriculture, Food and Natural Resources. .
"It's analogous to tasting a very fine dry wine over a sweet wine that's maybe more popular," he said.
Independent research is usually conducted by graduate students, but this was a special opportunity for undergraduates, Mustapha said.
"This project is really unique because they are working with a real live business owner and making a product that will actually be sold worldwide," she said.
Mustapha assembled a team of five motivated juniors and seniors who were available last summer. The students volunteered and didn't receive any compensation or credit hours but will have a sweet addition to their resumes.
Mustapha also said she appreciated that the company is located in Columbia and founded by McClure, a Missouri alumnus.
"We had no idea how to make chocolate to begin with. He educated us, including me, on the science of chocolate making," she said.
Team member Kayla Hauck, a junior, said she learned about the tempering (regulating the temperature of the chocolate to ensure it has the right appearance and texture) and handling processes of making chocolate.
"It's got to be the highest quality chocolate bar I've ever had," Hauck said. "It was so great to be involved in the process."