Otis Spunkmeyer cookies cooling
The careful cooling process includes hoods that pull heat from the cookies once they leave the oven.

Quest for the perfect cookie

It could be said that the world is divided into two kinds of people: “crisp cookie” types and “soft cookie” types. Leave it to the brand that’s only for everyone to find the middle ground. Otis Spunkmeyer cookies are made with crisp, golden-brown edges and a soft, chewy center. According to Mr. Mina, that’s not by accident.

After ingredients are individually scaled and mixed in a 2,000-lb Champion mixer, dough is dropped into a bay for a resting period that varies according to the type of cookie being produced. During
Baking & Snack’s visit, the bakery was making 4-oz. chocolate chunk cookies, which are part of its new Grab-N-Go portfolio for c-store distribution.

From here on, production is all sensor-driven, set by the three Allen-Bradley control stations. Dough waits in the hopper while the sensor reads the levels to ensure it’s metered correctly before chunking. “The key to consistency is how full the hoppers are,” Mr. Mina said.

Following wirecutting, the dough pieces travel to the 150-foot tunnel oven, which initiates the quest for that perfect cookie. “It’s all driven by temperature and time,” Mr. Mina said, noting that the Otis Spunkmeyer cookies bake in three different zones for a total of 9 to 16 minutes, depending on the size. After cookies exit the third zone, time and temperature remain at play during the carefully executed cooling process, also done in stages.

To prepare for proper freezing and ensure product integrity, the temperature must be reduced gradually. Specifically, as the cookies leave the oven, exhaust hoods above the 48-in.-wide conveyor belt extract heat from the foods to aid in the ambient cooling process. The hoods pull the heat up and out of the building.

The U-shaped line curves around and continues the cookies on a cooling path toward the tunnel freezer. “We have a nice, long ambient cool so we can get that temperature down slowly,” Mr. Mina said. The cooling process takes just about as long as the bake, up to 14 minutes, all of which can be adjusted depending on the outcome of those quality checks, which are done prior to packaging.

At the final stage of cooling and freezing, cookies run through 24, 4-foot-wide chambers, gradually reducing the temperature in each one so as not to shock the food or create unnecessary moisture.

This careful baking, cooling and freezing process is designed to be as kind to the food as possible to maintain product integrity. In fact, the cookies are not completely frozen — it’s more of a “firming” process — as the Fahrenheit temperature never really gets below the mid-30s.

Next, the cookies are lined up with a squaring bar and individually go through Safeline metal detection before entering the packaging department, where ARYZTA has invested in developing a specific process to streamline Otis Spunkmeyer production and avoid bottlenecks.