WSU/UI teams take top awards in DuPont food competition

PULLMAN, WA – Two student teams representing the Washington State University/University of Idaho School of Food Science earned first and second place in the annual DuPont Knowledge Award competition.

First place went to a Greek yogurt cake named “Aphrodite’s Treats,” with second place awarded for a sweet potato pasta appetizer called “S.P. Stuffed Puffs.” The use of emerging food ingredients helped propel the WSU/UI teams’ novel products to the top spots in the national food product development competition.

Low fat, less calories

Aphrodite’s Treats was based on a traditional cheesecake recipe formulated by substituting Greek yogurt for cream cheese. Among the team members were UI students Lynette Andersen and Athena Beckwith, and WSU students John Ock, Karin Thorsen and Yinmeng ‘Iris’ Sun.

To meet current market trends, this Greek yogurt-based cheesecake provides the consumer with all of the satisfying experiences of a regular cheesecake with added nutrients and reduced calories. The team’s goal was to make a “sinless sweet” dessert resembling a traditional baked cheesecake.

Taste panel testing

“This yogurt cake offers a lower calorie and lower fat dessert while adding fiber and protein to the diet,” explained Lynette Andersen, team leader. In the taste panels the team conducted at WSU during product development, over 80 percent of the panelists found the taste, flavor, texture, firmness and crust to be similar to a traditional cheesecake. “Our biggest challenge was the texture,” explained Andersen. “We worked on perfecting the cheesecake consistency most of the semester, but it really paid off.”

Sweet potato pasta puffs

Taking the second place prize, the “S.P. Stuffed Puffs” were created using sweet potato based pasta. Team members included WSU students Jake Fischer and Un Cheng ‘Arica’ Vong, and UI students Kari Jones and Jack McClure.

Their novel frozen appetizer product met multiple consumer demand categories for frozen convenience foods, pasta, and recently popularized sweet potatoes, inside one snack.

After perfecting a sweet potato based pasta “crust” for the exterior of the baked appetizer, the team then created two varieties of filling. The “Savory Italian Vegetable and Cheese” was served with a basil marsala cream sauce for dipping, and the second filling flavor was “Zesty Bacon Jalapeno.”

Healthy frozen appetizer

“S.P. Stuffed Puffs” were designed to be a healthier alternative to existing frozen appetizer options on the market. The team created a product that was neither breaded nor fried, unlike the frozen appetizers the team researched as comparative benchmark products.

The pasta shell was comprised of 70 percent sweet potatoes and 17 percent refined grains. The savory fillings contained nearly one serving of vegetables and were high in fiber, increasing the product’s nutritional appeal.

Innovative competition

Over 30 entries were submitted by student teams from across the country. The annual award is given to students who create a unique food product using knowledge they’ve received through their food science coursework. The concepts submitted were screened for the most innovative use of DuPont™ Danisco® or Solae™ ingredients based on an in-depth written report and tasting of the products by a panel of judges.

The School of Food Science teams designed their food products as a part of their senior level capstone course, Product Development (FS 489). Faculty instructor and advisor Kerry Huber, Ph. D. oversaw the student projects.

“I really enjoyed this class,” said Andersen. “It brought innovation and science together… and who doesn’t want to be able to eat their homework?”