Multi co-extrusion technology allows bakers to create colorful cookies with different types of fillings and textures.

Picture-perfect cookies

Rheon’s co-extrusion systems can turn out anywhere from 60 to 3,000 cookies a minute. “We can also make custom mosaic-like wire-cut cookies using up to four different dough colors to create a beautiful logo or picture,” Mr. Giacoio said. “We can easily make cookies in a bar shape like a fig bar.”

A recent innovation in this technology is to make two filled strands that get twisted, giving a rope-like appearance. “When we do this, the two strands can even have two different fillings,” Mr. Giacoio said. Bakers, for example, can take graham cracker dough and fill one strand with chocolate filling and the other with marshmallow. “This is a new twist on the old favorite, s’mores,” he noted.

Or, Mr. Giacoio added, bakers can employ extrusion to create an encased-cookie version of a popular sandwich cookie.

Diversifying product lines provides bakers with additional opportunities to attract new customers and increase consumption among existing ones. “Health-based cookies are seeing expansion in the market, and caffeinated cookies, which fit in the energy snack category, are growing,” suggested Sam Pallottini, director of cookie, cracker and pet food sales, Reading Bakery Systems. A traditional variety showing the most potential for growth, he added, is the frosted cookie.

Likewise, indulgent cookies remain on-trend. “If consumers want a treat, they want a proper one, so the addition of luxury inclusions such as nuts and chocolate chunks, or fillings, is growing,” noted Keith Graham, marketing manager, Baker Perkins Ltd. “Product diversity is also important. Manufacturers have to be able to produce a wider variety of recipes, putting a premium on changeover times.”

To provide versatility, he said, the Baker Perkins TruClean Servo wire-cutter comes with easy-to-clean, quick-change parts and an automatic recipe-driven set-up coupled to a dual-servo system that provides speed and accuracy.

When it comes to flexibility, cookie manufacturers should consider long-term as well as short-term options. “The latter is all about rapid changeover, whereas the former is concerned with the ability to convert a machine from one type of product to another,” Mr. Graham said, “or more to the point, the willingness of the equipment supplier to be open to the idea of adapting machines rather than replacing them.”

He pointed out the new Baker Perkins encapsulation module for wire-cut machines gives manufacturers the ability to enclose a chocolate, creme or paste filling inside a standard cookie. The module could be retrofitted to most Baker Perkins/APV Baker wire-cut machines. Previously, a separate unit was necessary.

Continue reading for information on flexible cookie equipment.