Introduction and Background Information
Cookies are small, flat, and sugary baked foods made of flour, sugar, and oil among other ingredients. Cookies fall under a group of food items known as grain-based dessert (GBD), which includes cakes, pastries, and pies. GBDs represent approximately 7.2% of calories in a typical US diet (Mathias, Ng & Popkin 2015). These food items contribute significantly to calories consumed by children, teenagers, and adults. Approximately 10% of solid fats and added sugar in diets comes from GBDs (Mathias, Ng & Popkin 2015). The 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans targets the reduction of fats and sugar to regulate caloric intake, control body weight, and minimize the risk of chronic diseases (DeSalvo, Olson & Casavale 2016). However, cookies also represent a potentially healthy snack, particularly if their preparation involves a careful selection of ingredients. They are suitable as a breakfast food or snacks and often provide adequate caloric intake for children.
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Recent health news in the United States has focused on obesity as a major health problem. Obesity is a health complication that is characterized by excessive body fat. The main causes of obesity include consumption of high-fat foods and sedentary lifestyles (Lifshitz & Lifshitz 2014). Sugar has also been blamed for the obesity pandemic. Excess sugars in foods are converted to fat and stored, which exacerbates the problem of obesity. Obesity is a global health problem (Kearns et al. 2014). Some of the problems associated with obesity include increased susceptibility to longstanding diseases such as type 2 diabetes, elevated blood pressure, cardiovascular disease, and some forms of cancer (Kearns et al. 2014). The association of cookies with weight gain and obesity has led to a significant decline in the consumption of cookies over the last few years. The new product seeks to address this issue by reducing the fat and sugar content of cookies.
The obesity epidemic has sparked an interest in food vendors and manufacturers to develop strategies to reduce excessive caloric intake and enhance the quality of diets. Furthermore, a 2005 report by the Institute of Medicine (IOM) endorsed changes towards novel and reformulated low energy, salt, fat, and sugar products in favor of youths (Papanikolaou & Fulgoni III 2016). Consequently, large-scale endeavors by organizations such as Walmart and the Healthy Weight Commitment Foundation show that the food industry intends to improve the quality of diets consumed in the United States.
The development of new commodities by food companies can lead to the production of baked commodities with reduced levels of saturated fat, salt, energy, and sugar. However, the development of quality food items from scratch often involves numerous trials of different recipes to produce an item of desirable nutritive value and sensory attributes such as flavor, taste, and texture. This process is time-consuming and labor intensive. Therefore, a reformulation of current products is an effective alternative to modifying products and producing quality food items with enhanced features. Additionally, the introduction of laws that require food manufacturers to include labels that rate the health benefits of products on packages has compelled these companies to ensure that their products meet the recommended food standards. This stipulation also calls for quality control initiatives to keep an eye on adjustments in the nutritional content of food products. A study conducted by Mathias, Ng, SW & Popkin, (2015) showed that despite the IOM report in 2005, the mean energy and sugar levels of GBDs produced in the United States did not change between 2005 and 2012. Instead, the content of average saturated fat increased. Notable consumer trends included an increased purchase of GBD food items with lower energy and sugar quantities. Also, the overall sales of GBD products diminished during the duration of the study (Mathias, Ng & Popkin 2015).
This experiment aimed at manipulating a traditional cookie recipe to produce a low-calorie and low sugar cookie. The new product targets cookie lovers who wish to enjoy their sweet treat without worrying about excessive sugar and calories. This objective was realized by cutting down the quantities of high fat and high sugar ingredients. The major nutritional issue that needs to be addressed in the development of the product is providing a healthy snack without excess calories and fats.
The major ingredients in the benchmark product (original oat chocolate cookies) are sugar, flour, oats, butter, and chocolate. Each of these ingredients plays a vital role in the uniqueness and flavor of the product. Flour contains wheat proteins that interact following the addition of water to form gluten, which stretches during leavening because of its elasticity (Rawat & Indrani 2015). Therefore, flour provides the structure and body of the baked commodity. Oats contain a large proportion of protein. However, it does not form gluten.
The role of oats in the recipe is to enrich the product with dietary proteins and fiber. The function of brown and caster sugar is to sweeten, tenderize, retain moisture, and promote browning of cookies during baking. In addition, cookies spread in the course of baking because of the presence of sugar. Baking powder is a leavening agent comprising baking soda and the correct proportion of acid to react with it. Its role in the recipe is to raise the baked commodity. Butter is a source of fat that adds tenderness, moisture, and a smooth taste to baked items. Fats augment the flavors of other ingredients in the recipe. On the other hand, the function of eggs is to provide flavor, color, structure, fat, liquid, and protein to baked items (Edelstein 2018). Eggs take in air when beaten and contribute to the overall leavening of the product. Another useful function of eggs is to blend fat with liquid components. Chocolate and vanilla extract are used to enhance the flavor of baked items.
Aim and Objectives
The overall aim of this experiment was to manipulate an oat chocolate cookies recipe to create a product that was suitable for a weight loss diet and determine how the modified product compared to the benchmark. The following are the specific objectives of the experiment.
- By the end of the experiment, oat chocolate cookies from a manipulated recipe will have a better appearance than the benchmark.
- By the end of the experiment, oat chocolate cookies from a manipulated recipe will have better color than the benchmark.
- By the end of the experiment, oat chocolate cookies from a manipulated recipe will have a better texture than the benchmark.
- By the end of the experiment, oat chocolate cookies from a manipulated recipe will have better flavor than the benchmark.
- By the end of the experiment, oat chocolate cookies from a manipulated recipe will be highly similar to the benchmark.
- By the end of the experiment, oat chocolate cookies from a manipulated recipe will have lower calories than the benchmark.
- By the end of the experiment, oat chocolate cookies from a manipulated recipe will have a higher nutritional value compared to the benchmark.
The first step of the cookie preparation process was preheating the oven to 180 oC followed by lining a baking tray with parchment paper. An electric beater was used to beat 150 g of unsalted butter, 100 g of caster sugar, and 80 g of brown sugar in a medium-sized bowl until the mixture was pale and fluffy. One large egg (approximately 40 grams) and 1 g of vanilla extract were then beaten into the mixture until well combined. At this point, 150 g of plain flour and 1 g of baking powder were sifted over the egg mixture after which 150 g of rolled oats and 150 g of milk chocolate were added to the mixture and stirred until well mixed. Full tablespoons of the mixture were rolled into balls, placed on the parchment-lined tray, and flattened slightly. The dough was baked for 12 to 15 minutes or until the cookies turned light brown. The cookies were set aside to cool for about 5 minutes before being transferred to a wire rack to cool completely.
A similar process was repeated using different proportions of ingredients in a modified recipe. Light butter (90 g) was beaten with 50 g of brown sugar, 50 g of castor sugar, and 15 g of nutritive sweetener until light and fluffy. The subsequent steps were conducted as described above. However, a small egg (approximately 20 grams), 120 g plain flour, 70 g rolled oats, and 65 grams of baking chocolate were used in the recipe.
The two types of cookies were analyzed to determine their nutritive value and sensory traits.
During the sensory evaluation, panelists were provided with warm water to rinse their mouths before tasting each sample. A questionnaire was used to guide the collection of sensory data. About 9 replicate data were obtained for each sensory attribute.
Table 1. Sensory evaluation questionnaire.
|Attribute||Description||Benchmark score (%)||Manipulated score (%)|
|Appearance||How would you compare the typical appearance of the product undergoing manipulation compared to the benchmark?|
|Aroma||How would you compare the typical aroma of the product undergoing manipulation compared to the benchmark?|
|Color||How would you compare the typical color of the product undergoing manipulation compared to the benchmark?|
|Texture||How would you compare the typical texture of the product undergoing manipulation compared to the benchmark?|
|Flavor||How would you compare the typical flavor of the product undergoing manipulation compared to the benchmark?|
|Overall similarity to benchmark||How would you compare the overall similarity of the product undergoing manipulation compared to the benchmark?|
Table 2. Summary of manipulation trials for each ingredient in the recipe.
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|Ingredient||Benchmark||Manipulated||Reason for manipulation|
|Brown sugar||80 g||50 g||Reduced quantity to reduce the KJ content.|
|Caster sugar||100 g||50 g||Reduced quantity to reduce the KJ content.|
|Plain flour||150 g||120 g||Reduced quantity to reduce the KJ content.|
|Rolled oats||180 g||70 g||Reduced quantity to reduce the KJ content.|
|Unsalted butter||150 g||90 g of light butter||Used a smaller quantity of light butter instead of unsalted butter to reduce the butterfat content and overall calories.|
|Whole egg||40 g||20 g||Reduced quantity to reduce the overall KJ content.|
|Milk chocolate||150 g||65 g of cooking chocolate||Used a smaller quantity of cooking chocolate instead of milk chocolate to reduce the overall KJ content.|
|Nutritive sweetener||–||15 g||Used nutritive sweetener to restore the sweetness without increasing the KJ content.|
Nutritional panels for the original and modified recipes were developed using the FSANZ calculator. Figures 1 and 2 provide summaries of the nutritional values.
Sensory Analysis Results
The mean scores of each sensory attribute were obtained and recorded in Table 3. These scores were tested for statistical significance at P=0.05. It was noted that there was no significant difference between the sensory attributes of the original cookies and manipulated cookies.
Table 3. Summary of sensory attributes between the benchmark and manipulated cookies.
The nutritional value of this product was improved by lowering the calorie, sugar, and fat content significantly, which made it suitable for the target market. The energy, total fat, carbohydrate, and sugar content of the cookies was reduced from 1020 KJ, 12 g, 29.7 g, and 16.1 g in the benchmark to 480 KJ, 4.3 g, 16.5 g, and 8.4 g respectively in the modified recipe. Six out of eight ingredients were similar to both recipes. However, their quantities were reduced in the amended recipe. The common ingredients included brown sugar, caster sugar, plain flour, rolled oats, baking powder, vanilla extract, and whole egg. Light butter and baking chocolate were used instead of normal unsalted butter and milk chocolate in the original recipe. A nutritive sweetener, which was absent in the benchmark, was included in the manipulated recipe. The proportions of all these ingredients were reduced in the manipulated recipe as indicated in Table 2.
Flour has wheat proteins that form gluten when water is added. Gluten’s elasticity causes it to stretch during leavening, which provides structure and body to baked items (Bressiani et al. 2017). Oats contain proteins that do not form gluten following the addition of water (Puglia et al. 2016). The purpose of oats in the recipe was to enhance the protein and fiber content of the product (Hsieh et al. 2017). Baking powder acted as a leavening agent to raise the cookies. The role of sugar (brown and caster sugar) is to sweeten, tenderize, and hold moisture in the baked items. Sugar also promotes browning of cookies (Mudgil, Barak & Khatkar 2017). Cutting down the amount of sugar by more than 33% has adverse consequences on the tenderness, moisture content, browning, and sweetness of the baked item. Nutritive sweeteners add to the sweetness of baked commodities but do not provide the tenderizing, browning, and moisture keeping features found in ordinary sugar. Therefore, there is a need to formulate recipes carefully when using nutritive sweeteners to maintain the advantages provided by table sugar.
Light butter is a reduced fat substitute that contains between 40 and 60 % fat and cream compared to conventional butter. Butter provides a good taste without a leaving greasy feel in the mouth because it softens at body temperature. The role of eggs in baked items is to contribute towards flavor, color, and structure of the final item. Beating eggs incorporates air, which contributes towards leavening of dough. Eggs also provide liquid, fat, and protein and facilitate the mixing of fat with liquid components. Lowering the volume of egg yolks reduces the tenderness of baked goods, whereas decreasing egg whites lowers the product volume. Chocolate and vanilla provided acted as flavoring agents. However, chocolate also contributed towards the bulk of the cookies.
The sensory results for this product were satisfactory. Modifying the recipe did not have a major impact on the sensory attributes of the product because the differences between the two products were not statistically significant. However, there were slight differences in the texture and flavor of the manipulated product compared to the benchmark. Eggs and sugar, which influence the texture of baked goods, were reduced significantly in the modified recipe (Deleu et al. 2017). The texture of the modified cookies could be improved by restoring the original proportion of eggs to enhance the blending of ingredients and the overall texture. The flavor of the product could be enhanced by using milk chocolate instead of baking chocolate. Baking chocolate is pure, unsweetened chocolate without additional compounds, whereas milk chocolate is sweetened and may have additional milk solids, which leads to a higher fat content than baking chocolate. The extra sugar and fat in milk chocolate contributed to the disparities in flavor between the two types of cookies. This substitution would not have a significant impact on the overall fat content.
The sensory results for this product were satisfactory. Modifying the recipe did not have a major effect on the sensory attributes of the product because the differences between the two products were not statistically significant. However, there were slight differences in the texture and flavor of the manipulated product compared to the benchmark, which were attributed to changes in the quantities of sugar, chocolate, and eggs.
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