KANSAS CITY — Cookies, a longtime bakery staple, are enjoying something of a renaissance with varieties that were once considered niche entering the instore bakery mainstream. And more and more bakeries and their commissary and other offsite-producer partners are taking advantage of evolutions in cookie depositor technology to meet this surging demand.

Cincinnati-based Magna Mixer knows a thing or two about cookies. In 1985, when the company was founded, the first piece of equipment off the line was its Handy Cookie Depositor, said Kerri Celmer, CEO.

In the ‘90s, Magna Mixer refined its technology with the introduction of its Handy “V” Cookie Depositor.

The “V” stands for the depositor’s two variable speed controllers: one for controlling pan speed and product spacing and the other for controlling the feed rolls for dough feed. That combination gives users up to 70 strokes per minute. The Handy “V” comes in 17” and 24” models.

“The Handy V 17” is the most popular,” Celmer said. “Both depositors can generate up to 1,750 dozen wire-cut uniform cookies per hour.”

And they’re both perfect, she added, for commissaries, grocery stores and bakeries with a large production demand. The hinged fold-down tables are great for space constraints and storage and the easy removal of the hopper makes clean up simple.

The depositor’s continuous variable speed feed rolls are designed for heavy dough and large cookies. And the machines are easy to dismantle and reassemble, making cleaning easy.

Magna Mixer, a woman-owned business that manufactures all of its equipment in Cincinnati, offers more than 400 different dies in all shapes and sizes. The company also sells replacement parts, additional dies and can provide service assistance if necessary.

Inclusion solutions

Canton, Mass.-based Reiser is tracking an industry trend toward a wide range of inclusions in cookies sold at retail and made at commissaries, central kitchens and other offsite production facilities, said John McIsaac, Reiser’s vice president of strategic business development.

“The trickiest inclusion is always the large one,” McIsaac said. “We pride ourselves on being able to accurately portion the largest inclusions with minimal damage.”

To that end, Reiser has engineered new double-screws and double-screw housings to handle and portion the dough as gently as possible. We are seeing a strong demand among customers who want high protein and health bars, he added — stiff, difficult doughs that process well on Reiser’s Vemag cookie dough depositor.

In addition to the new double-screws on Reiser’s Vemag 500, the depositor also now features larger pitches, McIsaac said. That spells higher quality production when it comes to both inclusion size and integrity.

“With our combination of gentle infeed and vacuum we can portion accurately and delicately,” he said. “The Vemag's cut-off device actually exposes the inclusions so that the baked cookie has tremendous eye appeal.”

The Vemag 500 is ideal for the production of cookies sold in grocery retail instore bakeries, McIsaac said. The machine produces pre-formed, ready-to-bake, exact-weight portions and is easily adjustable to produce a range of weights, shapes and sizes, and the double-screw pump provides the highest levels of portioning accuracy.

“The double-screw transports product extremely gently and without crushing or smearing,” he said. “Large inclusions are not damaged or crushed. The results are cookies with superior product quality and eye appeal. Our goal is to handle the dough and inclusions as gently as possible.”

The Vemag 500 is highly versatile and is easily adjustable to produce a range of weights, shapes and sizes, McIsaac added. It produces exact-weight portions, meaning no over- or under-weights, and no over- or under baked cookies. It’s also easy to operate and easy to clean, and the entire product path is 100% accessible for easy cleaning and inspection.

Many of Reiser’s customers come to the company when Reiser’s competitors tell them they need to make a tradeoff between inclusion size or weight accuracy in a “infeed roller” system, McIsaac said. With the Vemag's combination of gentle infeed and vacuum, it can portion accurately and delicately.

“The Vemag 500 can grow with you. Start with a base machine that deposits portions onto a conveyer that are then off-loaded by hand. Move up to indexing and shuttle conveyors to add a level of portion-to-pan automation to the line, reducing labor and maximizing production.”

Reiser also installs its cookie depositing machines with both technical resources and a bakery specialist, McIsaac said.

“We stay with you until you’re comfortable with both running the machine and we have run all of your products to your satisfaction.”

Variety and versatility

Affordable commercial cookie depositors from Hicksville, N.Y.-based Empire Bakery Equipment can add speed and efficiency to a commissary or instore bakery’s cookie production, according to the company.

Empire's complete line of cookie machines offers automatic spritz and wire cut models for a variety of shapes and sizes from soft and hard to fluid dough.

For the production of stationary spritz cookies, the BabyDrop Cookie Depositor offers a cost-effective solution with a space-saving design. The Suprema Cookie Depositing System is the ultimate solution for stationary and rotary spritz cookies, wire-cut and even multi-level drop cookies.

And, with the addition of Empire's optional soft dough head, you can expand your cookie machine's capabilities even further, according to the company.

“No matter what type of cookie you need to make (including butter cookies, French macaroons, shortbread biscuits, almond pastries, meringues, lady’s fingers, biscotti logs, cream puffs, sponge cakes, cupcakes, muffins and more), Empire's commercial cookie depositors and cookie dough droppers can help.”

The BabyDrop has been designed to be one of the most compact, versatile cookie dropping machines available today. With an intuitive, easy-to-use touch screen control panel and a 200 recipe memory capacity, it’s capable of producing up to 120 trays of consistent, high-quality cookies per hour.

With a large variety of nozzles and molds available, the design is extremely flexible, according to Empire. Its combination of cutting-edge technology and superior design saves customers time and money, according to the company.

Empire’s Suprema Cookie Depositor, meanwhile, also has 200 recipe memory capacity, but it can produce 180 trays per hour, 60 more than the BabyDrop.

For those customers starved for space, Empire’s BabyDrop MAXX Cookie Depositor features most of the capabilities of its full-size depositor in a compact tabletop design.

Manufactured to be one of the most versatile dropping machines available today, the BabyDrop Maxx features an intuitive, easy-to-use touch screen control panel and a 200 recipe memory capacity. Capable of producing stationary drop, rotary drop and wire-cut cookies, the unit will produce up to 120 trays of consistent, high-quality cookies per hour.

“It’s ideal for a wide range of pastries, cookies, cakes and more, including the wildly popular French Macarons and Meringues.”