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Recipe Testing and Evaluation Project Report

Julia Isaac

Food Concepts Lab

Department of Behavioral Health and Nutrition

Introduction & Objectives:

A recipe was prepared an evaluated by a panel of untrained taste testers. The recipe that

was made for this project was a flourless chocolate cake with strawberries. Chocolate is a very

prominent ingredient in many desserts, such as this cake. It can be consumed as a chocolate bar,

a syrup, a coating or center of a candy bar, candies, ice cream, baked goods, nuts, and fruit.

Chocolate originates from cacao trees in warm, moist climates near the equator and the trees are

primarily in West Africa and Brazil. There are several processes that are done to make chocolate.

It begins with fermenting the cocoa beans, then drying followed by roasting them, freeing them

from the chaff, blending and finally grinding them to release the chocolate liquor, a rich liquid

that is used to make either cocoa powder or cocoa butter. The chocolate liquor can also be

hardened to make unsweetened chocolate (which is 100% chocolate), or dark, semi-sweet, and

bittersweet, where some sugar is added to be ground with the cocoa nibs. This chocolate cake

recipe calls for bittersweet chocolate and unsweetened cocoa powder, each respectively 35% or

more cocoa and 100% cocoa (Brown, 2015). Chocolate is actually rich in flavonoids, mainly

flavanols are found in cocoa and chocolate. Flavanols have wonderful health benefits such as

“lowering blood pressure, improving blood flow from the brain to the heart, and making blood

platelets less sticky and able to clot” as well as having antioxidant powers. Antioxidants help the

body’s cells fight against free radicals, which are molecules that cause harm to the body. With all

of these health-powers of chocolate, their potency depends on the form of chocolate. Cocoa

powder is the highest in flavanols because it is processed the least. The more the cocoa powder is

processed the more it loses the flavanols (Heart-Health, 2012).

The objective of this project was to test a recipe, have people taste it, and formally report

the results. Evaluation sheets were prepared for participants to fill out after they tasted the
flourless chocolate cake. The results from their filled out evaluations are described later in this



The participants of this project were students in the Food Concepts Lab and faculty of the

Department of Behavioral Health and Nutrition. The sample was 13 people and they were

majority women with one man. The age range of the participants was 18-50 years of age. All of

the participants were untrained.

Materials & Methods:

Materials: The materials used for this project were four ounces of Ghirardelli bittersweet

chocolate, one stick (½ cup) of butter, ¾ cup of sugar, 3 large eggs, ½ cup of Ghirardelli

unsweetened cocoa powder, one container of strawberries, an eight-inch round baking pan, wax

paper, a serving pedestal, a cake knife, a mixing bowl, a double boiler (saucepan and small

mixing bowl), a whisk, a mixing spoon, an oven, a sifter, grocery and equipment list, 13

evaluation sheets, a cost analysis, nutrition facts, and a nutrition analysis.

Methods: For the preparation of the cake, the first step was to preheat the oven to 375°F and

butter an eight-inch round baking pan and to also line the bottom of the pan with wax paper and

butter. Next the chocolate was melted in a double boiler with the butter, stirring it until smooth.

A double boiler was prepared by taking a saucepan and adding enough water so that when

placing the small mixing bowl on the saucepan that the water did not touch the bowl. The water

was brought to a simmer and the chocolate and butter melted in the mixing bowl of the double

boiler. Once the chocolate mixture was smooth it was removed from the heat and then the sugar

was whisked in. Eggs were added next and were whisked well. The unsweetened cocoa powder

was sifted into the chocolate mixture and it was whisked until just combined. The batter was then
poured into the baking pan and was placed in the middle of the oven to bake for 25 minutes. The

cake cooled in the pan on a rack for five minutes then was inverted on the serving pedestal. The

cake was dusted with more cocoa powder and the strawberries were sliced and placed on the

cake for decoration.

The setting of the sensory evaluation was very simple: the cake pedestal sat on a white

placemat decorated with the logo of Ghirardelli with the title of the recipe replacing the company

name for a creative label. The participants served themselves with the cake knife onto white

plates. Small portions were taken to prevent taste fatigue considering there were five other

recipes to be tested. The participants filled out the sensory evaluation sheet based on their

thoughts of the cake after tasting. The sensory evaluation tool has the participants rate likability

of the cake based on several characteristics in a number system, for example a five represented

“like extremely”, as well as they rated on a “yes or no” fashion on the same characteristics

asking if they would recommend the recipe to a friend. The number system was decided upon to

use instead of a number line because it was easier to analyze the data. This sensory evaluation is

focused on personal preference, classifying it as an affective test (NTDT 201 class notes

September 7, 2016).

The cost analysis was created using an excel document and Each ingredient

from the recipe (listed in materials) was searched in in the search bar that says

“Search Weekly Circular”. The price of the item was listed there, which was listed as the unit

cost of the ingredient on the excel sheet. The quantity used per ingredient was also listed in a

separate column. Conversions were made so that the quantity used per ingredient and the unit

cost of the ingredient were in the same units, grams, ounces, or count (for eggs) were used in this

case. The nutrition facts label was made by first calculating a nutrition analysis of the recipe.
Using the USDA database, the ingredients were searched for and the nutrition information was

taken from there. In an excel document the found nutrition information was put into the nutrition

analysis excel document and was then used to make the nutrition facts label. A template was

provided and the information gathered from research was filled in.

Results & Evaluation

Table One: Taste Panel Evaluation of the Flourless Chocolate Cake

Characteristi Dislike Dislike Neithe Like Like Mea

c Extremel Somewha r Like Somewha Extremel n
y t nor t y
No. % No. % No. % No. % No. %
Overall 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 13 10 5
Appearance 0
Flavor 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 8 12 92 4.92
Temperature 0 0 0 0 0 0 1 8 12 92 4.92
Texture 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 1 11 85 4.85
Nutritional 1 8 0 0 4 3 2 1 6 46 3.92
Content 1 5
Sweetness 0 0 0 0 0 0 2 1 11 85 4.85
Overall 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 0 13 10 5
Acceptability 0
Table one shows the likability of the flourless chocolate cake based on overall appearance,

flavor, temperature, texture, nutritional content, sweetness, and overall acceptability. For overall

appearance, all 13 participants said that they extremely liked the cake, 100% of the group, and

the average of likability is 5. For flavor, one person somewhat liked it, which is 8% of the group,

and 12 people extremely liked it, 92% of the group, and the average of likability is 4.92. For

temperature, one person somewhat liked it, 8% of the participants, 12 people extremely liked it,

92% of the participants, and the mean of likability is 4.92. For texture, two people somewhat

liked it, 15% of the participants, 11 people extremely liked the cake, 85% of the group, and the

mean of likability is 4.85. For nutritional content, one person extremely disliked the cake, 8% of
the group, four people said they neither liked nor disliked it, 31% of participants, two people

somewhat liked the cake, 15% of people, and six people extremely liked it, 46% of participants,

and the average likeability for this characteristic was 3.92. For sweetness, two participants said

they somewhat liked the cake, 15% of the group, and 11 people extremely liked it, 85%, and 4.85

was the average likability of this characteristic. And for overall acceptability, all 13 participants

extremely liked the cake, 100% of the group and the mean likeability is 5.

Table Two: Evaluation of Moistness of Flourless Chocolate Cake

Characteristic Too Moist Just Right Too Dry

No. % No. % No. %
Cake 2 15 10 77 1 8
Table two shows the results of the participants’ thoughts on the moistness of the flourless

chocolate cake. Two participants thought the cake was too moist, which is 15% of the group. 10

people said the moistness was just right, 77% of the group. One person thought the cake was too

dry, 8% of the group.

Table Three: Recommendations to Friends about the Flourless Chocolate Cake

Characteristic Yes No
No. % No. %
Overall 13 100 0 0
Flavor 13 100 0 0
Temperature 13 100 0 0
Texture 13 100 0 0
Nutritional 11 85 2 15
Sweetness 13 100 0 0
Overall 13 100 0 0
Table three shows the responses of the participants if they would recommend this recipe to their

friends based on overall appearance, flavor, temperature, texture, nutritional content, sweetness,

and overall acceptability. For the characteristics of overall appearance, flavor, temperature,

texture, sweetness, and overall acceptability all 13 participants, 100% of the group, said they

would recommend the flourless chocolate cake to a friend. For the nutritional content, 11
participant said they would recommend this to a friend, which is 85% of the group, while two

people said they would not recommend this to a friend based on the nutritional content, which is

15% of the group.

The price per serving of the flourless chocolate cake is $0.67. The nutritional value is

rather predictable of a dessert, meaning it is high in calories, fat, cholesterol, and sugar

specifically. Per serving, the cake contains 19 grams of total fat, 11 grams being saturated fat and

zero grams of saturated fat, 99 milligrams of cholesterol, and 26 grams of sugar. The cake also

has 26 milligrams of sodium, 29 grams carbohydrate, broken down into the 26 grams of sugar

and 3 grams of dietary fiber, four grams of protein, all per serving. In terms of minerals, the cake

contains 10.3% of Vitamin A’s daily value, 18.3% of Vitamin C’s daily value, 17% of iron’s

daily value, and 1% of calcium’s daily value, all per serving.

Discussion & Conclusion

The results from this project were interesting. Most people had similar thoughts about the

cake and that they seemed to really like it. Because this is a sensory evaluation, it is based on

personal preferences, which is why there is variation in the data because everyone is different

with their own opinions about the flourless chocolate cake. One of the more controversial

characteristics that we evaluated was the nutritional content of the cake. One person rated it as

“dislike extremely”, four people neither liked nor disliked it, two somewhat liked it, and six

people said they “like extremely.” For the person that really disliked the cake for this

characteristic I believe they were paying close attention to the nutrition facts label because it is

quite high in kcalories. The people that somewhat liked or really liked the cake I think took into

consideration that this is a dessert and it is bound to be high in kcalories. Each person had their

own thought process when filling out their evaluations, and it is very evident with this
characteristic that personal preference has a strong influence on what people choose to consume.

Personal preference is evident in the other two evaluations as well, which is a reason why some

characteristics were rated higher than others. The highest rated characteristics were overall

appearance and overall acceptability, next highest being temperature and flavor, then texture and

sweetness, and lastly nutritional content. The cake had an intense chocolate flavor and was quite

moist, which it seems most people expressed they enjoyed. Their personal preferences are clear

in their evaluations that the cake overall tasted delicious, but different thoughts were made about

the nutritional content. In Table Two, the participants were asked about the moistness of the

cake, if it was too dry, too wet, or just right. Because the cake is gluten-free, without the addition

of any flours the moisture of the cake was a topic of concern. Most people said the moisture was

just right, but two people said it was too wet and one said it was too dry. The setting also effected

the results because it influences the sensory perception of the participants. Plain, white plates

were used to not distract them from the focus of the evaluation, the food. Small portions were

given so that taste fatigue would not influence the results.

The limitations of this recipe and project were human error. The recipe calls for using no

chemical leaveners and using whole eggs instead of whipping up egg whites, which was

questionable because in a cake without chemical leaveners egg whites are usually whipped to

stiff peaks to provide enough protein structure for the cake. In the end, the cake held up just fine.

There was difficulty getting the cake out of the greased baking pan. It is possible this is due to

human error, an ingredient was measured incorrectly or ingredients not well combined enough

could have caused this. Or the pan was not well greased enough. Fortunately, this did not prove

harmful to the outcome of the cake; it was eventually taken out of the baking pan and dusted

with unsweetened cocoa powder and covered in sliced strawberries. This project proved to be a
very educational process about the testing of a recipe and showed that it may not come out as

expected, the process of sensory evaluation, and how to analyze and report data from said


Brown, A. (2015). Understanding Food Principles and Preparation. Stamford, CT: Cengage

Heart-Health Benefits of Chocolate. (2012). Retrieved from: