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The effect of lecithin in reduced fat cookies

Lecithin in the cookie industry

Reducing fat and sugar content are some of the current trends of the food industry to combat obesity and make its products more attractive to health-conscious consumers.

One of the products that meets the demands of this type of consumer and their needs are reduced fat cookies.

It is widely known that fat is one of the main ingredients of cookies, along with sugar and flour. This determines its qualities in terms of hardness or softness, texture, flavor, shape, appearance, etc.

In cookie dough, emulsifiers are used with the aim of achieving a homogeneous mixture of the water-soluble and fat-soluble ingredients of the recipe, improving their dispersion and, as a result, improving the viscosity of the dough. As such, the choice of emulsifier is essential to obtain the intended product. Depending on the recipe and the proposed properties of the dough, it can act as an aerating agent that traps air or forms complexes with other dough components such as starch or protein. Emulsifiers can also modify the crystallization of fats or improve the flow properties of the dough.

Throughout the cookie production process, lecithin has been widely used as a natural emulsifier. Its use makes it easier to obtain a softer dough and reduces the fat content of the cookie without compromising the quality of the product.

Hydrolyzed lecithin powder

Lecithin, in its most common form, is a highly viscous liquid that must be added to the fat phase of the cookie, as it is not fully water-soluble and cannot be mixed with flour or sugar.

To improve handling and facilitate direct addition to the dough, Lasenor has developed the LECISOL range. It is a powdered product containing 50% hydrolyzed sunflower lecithin pulverized over wheat or rice flour and an anti-caking agent. Hydrolyzed lecithin is used because it has a higher polarity than standard lecithin, which allows a seamless integration of all the cookie ingredients.

Therefore, given the hydrolyzed nature of LECISOL and its powder form, it is designed to be suitable for cookie manufacturers due to the following properties:

  • Strong emulsifying power
  • Easy to dose with optimized mixing dispersion
  • GMO-free
  • Does not contain soy allergens

The effects of LECISOL on different types of cookies

The latest technical studies carried out by Lasenor’s R&D department show that LECISOL can also help producers to reduce the fat content of cookies without compromising the hardness of the product.

This is demonstrated by the technical tests carried out on Marie cookies and Shortbread (made with butter and with palm oil), based on different percentages of fat content reduction.

Marie biscuits

These are cookies with a relatively low sugar content (20% of flour weight) and fat content (16-20% of flour weight). Sodium metabisulfite and other salts can be used to prepare the dough for its production.

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Figure 1 - Effect of LECISOL on the hardness of Marie cookies

The reduction of fat increases the hardness of the cookies. However, as can be seen in the graph:

  • The addition of 1% LECISOL makes it possible to reduce the fat content by 20 to 30%, with no impact on hardness. Increasing the dosage to 2% LECISOL allows a fat reduction of up to 40%.
  • In terms of organoleptic properties, the sensory analysis concluded with a certainty of 95%, that a simple reduction of fat in the Marie biscuit can be perceived by the consumer. On the other hand, no organoleptic changes are perceived when LECISOL is added to reduced fat Marie biscuits.

Shortbread

Shortbread is a brittle cookies due to its high amount of fat, which contains a high level of saturated fatty acids (SFA). Their recipes can vary greatly depending on the fat content (ranging from 20 to 60% of the flour weight) and the sucrose percentage (ranging from 25 to 55% of the flour weight).

The main source of fat is usually butter, but to reduce costs, other oils can sometimes be used as well.

Since the dose of LECISOL can vary depending on the fat source used, two recipes were tested in the Lasenor trials: a first recipe with butter and a second with palm oil.

In both cases, a 10% and a 20% fat reduction were tested, because a higher fat
reduction (above 20%) was not taken into consideration due to the dough increasing in grittiness and losing plasticity.

The following graphs will be placed side by side with the explanations so that it is clear that one graph is with butter and the other with palm oil.

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Graph 2 - Effect of LECISOL on the hardness of Shortbread - Butter Recipe

As shown in graph 2:

  • Adding 1% LECISOL to the recipe with 10% fat reduction, the hardness is reduced to almost the same level as the control.
  • Increasing the dosage to 2.5% LECISOL allows a fat reduction of up to 20%.
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Figure 3. Effect of LECISOL on the hardness of butter cookies - Palm Oil Recipe

By adding 1% LECISOL, the hardness of the cookie with a fat reduction of 10% is at the same level as the control. A fat reduction up to 20% when increasing the LECISOL dosage up to 2%.

The sensory analysis concluded with 95% certainty that when LECISOL is added to the fat-reduced Shortbread, no organoleptic changes are perceived.

All the results obtained in these trials demonstrate that the use of LECISOL hydrolyzed lecithin powder allows for reduction in fat content without any modification of the process and at the same time allows for other ingredients to be added.

This is an important innovation for food industry manufacturers and customers who are aware of the need to consume more natural and healthier products.