the making of pink lemonade pudge
After we released strawberries 'n cream pudge this summer (our first fruit-based cookie), we realized how much people LOVED fruity cookies. It was super unexpected. When we got feedback from our mid-year customer feedback survey, one of the most requested flavors was lemon - either lemon on its own, or lemon cheesecake.
[Sidenote: if you ever wondered how we decide on the next flavors, it's partially based on most popular customer requests and owners' choice.]
So it was early July when we decided to start testing lemon pudge, and it was a wholly unexpected rollercoast ride of technical challenges. We ended up finalizing on version 22, very on-brand but coincidental.
These are the problems that came up:
1. It is wildly difficult to achieve a bright lemon flavor in a cookie without a glaze. Unlike other lemon sweets, e.g. lemon bars, you can't add tons of lemon juice without adjusting your bake time or amount of flour (and if adjusting flour, you dilute your lemon flavor).
2. I used a ridiculous amount of zest (and lemon extract), and this took too much time for too little lemon flavor.
3. Even the cookie base alone, let alone with cheesecake filling, led to a very wet cookie. And making it a more cake-like cookie (think red velvet) wasn't going to work - the texture wouldn't be pleasant
Those were the major issues that came up in the first 10 versions, but once we started using acids naturally found in citrus fruits (citric & malic acid), the cookie finally started to shape up. I went down a few major rabbit holes researching these ingredients and did isolated tests to pinpoint their efficacy and interactions with other ingredients. This was *super super awesome* and I could go into great depth, but a magician never reveals her secrets. Just know that these new ingredients we added managed to get us that bright lemon flavor we wanted, AND they hit in different parts of the mouth to give you a true feeling of drinking lemonade. As a tester said, it was "lip-smacking".
I'm pretty sure I sent out an email about the new flavor around version 8 or so, thinking I was about 2 weeks out from finishing this flavor - but I was dead wrong. Taking this cookie from good to great took a lot of thinking, but I'm excited to share this cookie with you. It also gives me a lot of hope for how we approach flavor development in the future. I learned a ton, and I'm excited to think outside the box for the next fall flavor.