As is the case with many food products, perfectly acceptable cookies can be made on a small scale without using emulsifiers. However, even for small-scale production, the use of an emulsifier improvers the handling properties of cookies dough and the food quality of the final cookies. When cookies are processed on a larger scale, the benefits of an emulsifier become much more apparent. An appropriately selected emulsifier will reduce dough viscosity, reduce sticking to machinery surfaces, reduce variability in coolies spread, maintain definition of the stamped cookies surface, and improve crumb uniformity and food quality. Emulsifiers can also reduce the need for shortening, while maintaining or even improving food quality.
The basic principle of cookies dough mixing is the through coating of flour with shortening, resulting in a small but reproducible amount of gluten development. Excessive working of the dough results in too much gluten development and poor machining, baking and food qualities.
Therefore, cookies flours are generally made from soft wheat with low to medium protein content, to reduce gluten development. Excessive protein results in tough and hard cookies, while deficient protein definition. High-protein flour will require more shortening, sugar and leavening, and the opposite is true for low-protein flours.
Therefore, proper selection of flour, proper mixing and formula balancing will eliminate many problems associated with cookies. However, even with proper flour selection, an excess of gluten development can occur before ingredients are properly mixed. Therefore, sufficient shortening should be included in the mix to coat the flour surface thoroughly, and this ‘shortens’ or minimizes gluten formation. The shortening coating also reduces the need for water in the formula, which would lead to more starch gelatinization. The shortening should be soft enough to mix quickly and completely at the relatively cool temperature of a cookie dough, but still contain sufficient solids to prevent oiling out in the final cookies.
Lactylates are used in cookies and cracker formulations, primarily to achieve a more uniform distribution if shortening in the dough. This results in decreased dough viscosity, improved machining, increased and more uniform spread, and improved food qualities. In addition, lactylate can reduce the amount of shortening required, thereby reducing formula cost while maintaining other characteristics.