Reverse engineering packaged foods has been a hobby of mine for a few years now. It is fascinating how “they” come up with these products and to see if I can recreate them to make them taste better in my own kitchen. As many of you know and hopefully have tried by now, Subway came introduced their raspberry cheesecake cookies through a free raspberry cheesecake cookie promotion on Valentine’s Day just a month ago. As soon as I tried it I thought it was excellent and immediately wanted to make them in large quantities at home!
The steps of reverse engineering:
1. Research: find out all you possibly can about the product and about other reproductions out there
- Google search
- Find out what ingredients are in the subway cookie from subway’s nutrition facts:
“RASPBERRY CHEESECAKE Enriched Bleached Flour (Flour, Malted Barley Flour, Niacin, Reduced Iron, Thiamin Mononitrate, Riboflavin, Folic Acid), Sugar, Margarine (Palm Oil, Water, Soybean Oil, Salt, Mono- and Diglycerides, Natural Flavor, Vitamin A Palmitate, Beta Carotene), White Chips (Sugar,Palm Kernel and Palm Oil, Nonfat Dry Milk, Soy Lecithin, Vanilla), Eggs, Raspberry Bits (Dextrose, Palm Oil, Sugar, Corn Flour, Raspberry Powder, Natural Flavor, Citric Acid, Blueberry and Carrot Extracts), Neufchatel Cheese (Pasteurized Milk and Cream, Cheese Culture, Salt, Stabilizer [Carob Bean and/or Guar and/or Xanthan Gums]), Invert Sugar, Maltodextrin, Natural and Artificial Flavors, Baking Soda, Salt, Yellow 5. Contains: Wheat, milk, soybeans and eggs. “
2. Observe & Brainstorm: try to pick out all the ingredients in the product and think of all possible ways that the product could have been made. Also think about how to make the product without special industrial machinery or food chemicals that are not accessible to the general public.
- Cookie base: basic chocolate chip cookie w/o chocolate chips, sugar cookie dough, something else
- Raspberry: jelly, jam, pastry filling, raspberry candy, fresh raspberries
- Cheesecake: an actual cheese cake cut up, cheese cake flavoring, no cheese cake just white chocolate chips
3. Try the most likely solution: look your brainstorming list and pick the most likely solution and try it. Be sure to keep certain variables as controls.
- The first batch: chocolate chip cookie recipe from the back of a Hershey’s bag of chocolate chips with 2 cups of white chocolate, chunked Sara Lee cheesecake (from the frozen section of the grocery store), seedless raspberry jam chopped up.
- The second batch: chocolate chip cookie recipe from the back of a Hershey’s bag of chocolate chips with 2 cups of white chocolate chips, no bake cheese cake powder (Jell-O brand) added to the batter, and seedless raspberry jam chopped up.
- The third batch: chocolate chip cookie recipe from the back of a Hershey’s bag of chocolate chips with 2 cups of white chocolate chips, no bake cheese cake powder added to the batter, and fresh raspberries.
- The fourth batch: chocolate chip cookie recipe from the back of a Hershey’s bag of chocolate chips with 2 cups of white chocolate, chunked Sara Lee cheesecake (from the frozen section of the grocery store), and fresh raspberries.
- The results of all these batches were a cake like cookie that tasted good but where not chewy enough and the cheese cake chunks disappeared in the cookie not adding enough cheese cake flavor.
- Note: The last couple cookies I added the gram cracker crust to the cookies and the taster thought they were much better.
4. Try another solution
- Disappointed with all the batches, I did a search on cream cheese cookies and found that there are cookies made with cream cheese and they look chewy (unlike the cake-like consistency of the ones I made) So, I changed the dough to a basic cream cheese dough then added white chocolate chunks & chips and raspberry jam.
Raspberry Cheesecake Cookie Recipe
Yield 6 dozen
- 1 stick butter, softened
- 1/2 cup shortening
- 8 oz Neufchatel cream cheese
- 1 cup light brown sugar
- 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
- 2 eggs
- 1 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 3 cups flour
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 cup white chocolate bar broken into chunks (for appearances & richness)
- 2 1/2 cups white chocolate chips
- Raspberry jam (no seeds) OR King Arthur Flour’s Raspberry Jammy Bits
- Preheat oven to 350F
- Cream butter, shortening, cream cheese, and sugars until fluffy.
- Add vanilla and eggs one at a time beating well.
- Stir in dry ingredients.
- Stir in white chocolate
- *Add raspberry jam to each cookie (stirring will make the jam gray the dough)
- Using a cookie scoop place cookies 1″ apart on a silapat or greased cookie sheet.
- Bake for 6- 8 minutes. Take out when they are lightly browned- under cook slightly. Let them finish baking on cookie sheet. Then let them cool completely on cooling rack before picking them up.
- Solution 1: 2 Tbsp of jam + 1Tbsp of cornstarch microwave for 30 seconds. Place in refrigerator immediately to cool. When cooled it should be pliable and you can take some of the sticky raspberry filling and roll them into balls and add to the dough. This is how you don’t turn the dough gray with streaks of raspberry jam throughout. (Probably how Subway does it- some sort of tacky jam product that has the consistency of more of a gummy candy that can be mixed in the dough without changing the dough’s color – then when baked melts into the cookie)
- Solution 2: take some jam out of the jar and place it in a piping back. As soon as the cookies come out of the oven pipe little blobs of jam into the cookie’s crevasses (produces the best looking cookie)
- Solution 3: If you don’t care how the cookies look only taste simply chop your cold jam into small pieces and add to each cookie. Don’t stir them in the batter.
- Solution 4: King Arthur Flour’s Raspberry Jammy Bits as G. Barnhart suggested below
- Note 1: Try not to have the raspberry jam touching the bottom of the cookie or it will stick to the pan.
5. Modify the Recipe
- Looking at my cookies next to Subway’s there are several things that are still off slightly.
- One is the color of the cookie. Subway’s raspberry cheese cake cookie is whiter looking than mine. Some possible explanations: I used unbleached flour and dark brown sugar.
- The second thing that is off slightly is the raspberry jam part. Subway has got to stir in these raspberry jam pieces and just ship the dough to their stores. Although my solution #1 above is close I still wonder what they really do.
- The third thing that is off is the size of my cookies compared to Subway’s. I used a cookie scoop but if you want them to be larger and more calories be my guest. Just write a comment on this page of how long you baked them for.
- How to become a food scientist
- Food Scientists & Technologists (Occupational Handbook)
- Institute of Food Technologists
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