The challenge was to gauge reaction to the plant-based cookies and find out if the dairy alternatives still managed to deliver the rich authenticity of various regions.
Also known as biscuits in English-speaking countries outside the US, cookies are believed to have first originated in Persia (today, Iran) soon after the use of sugar became relatively common in that region. Since then, cookies/biscuits have become a beloved treat for people around the globe.
All five of the sweet cookies made at its innovation lab in the US featured the same basic base, but then were given its own regional taste profile with the addition of Edlong’s Global Butter Flavours range. Two of the cookies were also dairy-free.
In developing this, the company’s R&D teams in Mexico and Ireland sourced butters from point of origin to ensure its application experts captured the truly authentic regional character.
The purpose behind the tour – which flitted from Ireland to New Zealand and Mexico, along with a mystery stop – was to highlight the company’s flavour layering capabilities to create a more nuanced twist to the classic butter profiles. According to the company, the plant-based cookies allowed its Global Butter Flavour line to shine, even after going through baking at 177°C (350°F) and deep freezing at -18°C (0°F). The range of bake-stable flavours also enabled the bakers to create two dairy-free cookies.
So, what was the reaction? Were the producers able to pick up on the unique flavour nuances?
Feedback revealed that customers in the US and Europe preferred the Irish and Mystery flavour profiles, while Latin American customers scored the Mexican profile the highest. All regions agreed the New Zealand profile – which had very distinctive animal notes – was their least favourite.
The grand tour
The tasting trip began with an unflavoured plant-based cookie made simply with flour, sugar, vegetable fat, water and salt.
It featured sweet, slightly salty, toasted flour, and fatty/oily profiles without any authentic dairy tastes.
Winging south to Latin America, this cookie gave tasters a shortbread variant reminiscent of the pasticetas-style cookie, known in Mexico for its buttery richness. The key profile in this one is melted, popcorn butter.
A mystery stop took tasters to Europe, with most of the respondents were able to identify the Mystery flavour as Belgian White Chocolate.
A quick pop over to Ireland delved into the strong grass-fed butter notes reminiscent of Irish butter, made from the milk of cows that graze on lush fields. This cookie featured indulgently fatty/rich profiles of sweet cream butter, cooked milk and a slight brown butter.
Finally heading south to New Zealand, this cookie featured profiles commonly found and preferred by locals with its notable fatty, animal edge, showing this flavour may not pair as well in sweet bakery products but would certainly offer bearing to other food categories.
Edlong believes its range of bake-stable flavours will help producers stand out in the bakery aisle by delivering globally-liked profiles and regionally faithful tastes, even in plant-based applications.
Founded in 1914, the Illinois-headquartered company has over a century of expertise in custom flavour development, applications and culinary support and boasts of having the largest library of dairy and dairy-free dairy flavour solutions. It also has operations in Canada, Latin America, Europe, Asia and the Middle East.