Flavor Story: A Peek Into Creating Kugel Flavors!

Our 4 Kugel Flavors. Yumminess!

Our 4 Kugel Flavors. Yumminess!

One of the most exciting things about Locker Family Recipes’ Kugel, is how carefully we’ve crafted each one to ensure that they meet our standard of yumminess. We want each box on the shelf to have the exact same flavor profile as each one baked in our home. After many tasty hours trying out variations of each flavor, we are elated about the current line, and look forward to sharing new flavors with you, here on this blog, as they become available.

The first flavor is our favorite as it is a unique combination of sweet with a touch of salt – just like Kettle-corn. It is the holy grail of Kugel!

Flavor Story: Aunt Nonie’s Vanilla and Cinnamon Noodle Kugel

You’d think replicating Aunt Nonie’s traditional Kugel would be easy… well it wasn’t. The biggest challenge was our beloved topping. The Kugel is delicious without the topping, but the warm noodily-yumminess is taken to an even more delicious level when served with a light, crispy, crunchy topping. Originally we used Kellogg’s Corn Flakes straight from the box. This wasn’t going to work when making 1000 units! At the time of our original formulation, Kellogg’s Corn Flakes’ ingredient list used BHT and high fructose corn syrup. Those two ingredients did not meet our quality standards and prevented our product from being approved to be sold into a store like Whole Foods Market. It would also be too expensive to use for commercial production.

To try and find a suitable topping, we bought every box of natural cornflakes at Whole Foods to try as a Kugel topping. Natural is good, but not when it comes creating a crispy Kugel topping! The natural corn flakes turned out to be either too thick, too soggy, or too hard. It was going to be difficult to beat Kellogg’s for its corn flakes’ light and crispy texture!

Thank goodness a friend introduced us to Upper Crust, a supplier of Japanese panko breadcrumbs. We took their all-natural panko, mixed it with some cinnamon and spices to come up with the perfect topping in terms of taste and crispiness. What a relief it was when we tasted our first batch of samples with the new topping. That’s when we knew we could move our business forward! 

Flavor Story: Uncle Irv’s Caramelized Onion Noodle Kugel

We were ready to create our next flavor. We’d leverage the base custard used in Aunt Nonie’s Kugel, pull out the sugar and sweet spices and add new ones. Easy right???

As lovers of caramelized onions and mushrooms, we were excited to combine the two as our second flavor, but it just wasn’t quite translating. We feared both the cost of mushrooms, and that they often shrink down to nothing during the cooking process! After thoughtful research and talking with other food-lovers, our fears were confirmed. Mushrooms weren’t going to work. We went back to the drawing board and considered other ways to share our love for caramelized onions.

We enlisted a friend, Jan Hargrove of Just Jan’s Jam whose marmalades we loved, to help us figure out a way to make our onions special. “Wait!” we thought, “Why not make caramelized onion marmalade?” Jan loved the idea as well, and created a special formula to add to our custard.

In our first trial, we used red onions, because we thought the red onions were cool! However, the Kugel looked grey in color when we used red onions. Yuck!  We quickly learned white onions were the better choice.

When we had the perfect combination of ingredients, we worked with the food scientists at Upper Crust to select the most complimentary spices. We found their all-natural Panko mixed with Italian spices was the perfect addition. Viola! Uncle Irv’s Caramelized Onion Kugel had been perfected.

Every detail really matters. In fact, our efforts earned Irv’s Caramelized Onion Kugel a 2014 Sofi Finalist Award from the Specialty Food Association!

Flavor Story: Aunt Dotty’s Lemon Coconut Kugel 

Lemon bars have always been a favorite dessert of ours. Who doesn’t love that tangy, sweet taste after a meal, or even for an afternoon snack? In considering new flavors, we were certain we could swap some of the flavors of the Vanilla Cinnamon Kugel to make a Lemon Kugel. So we did!

We experimented in our home kitchen by reviewing recipes for both lemon cheesecake and lemon bars. At first, we tried lemon extract, but we weren’t satisfied with the flavor. It tasted unnatural and a little too tart. We tried lemon peel, but after scraping 5 lemons or so, the peel added nothing. Then we realized we had to use straight up lemon juice to have the flavor come through the dense custard! It was a funny trial and error process. We’d pour some lemon juice into the custard and taste it. Not enough lemon. So we’d pour more lemon juice into the custard. Not enough lemon. So we’d pour…. And pour… and pour… It’s really quite comical how much lemon juice we added until it tasted fabulous. In fact, even to this day in the factory, we still get nervous that we haven’t added enough lemon juice!

Now for the final touch (and the best part!): The topping. While writing the recipe, we turned to our friends at Upper Crust and after many delicious taste tests; we loved the idea of using their all-natural coconut Panko. It’s really the perfect combination! Hope you enjoy! Let us know what you think in the comments below.

Flavor Story: Uncle George’s Gluten-Free Sweet Potato Kugel

Our objective with Uncle George’s Sweet Potato Kugel was to provide our friends who love our kugels with a gluten-free option that is as tasty as our other Kugels even without the noodles. We tried some of the gluten free noodle options and we didn’t like the taste. Besides, we’re trying to stay away from foods with a million ingredients! All of those gluten free noodle products have an ingredients list that’s a mile long. Not what we’re going for!

We knew very quickly that sweet potatoes were the answer; probably because we can never resist ordering sweet potato fries and because sweet potatoes are known for their health benefits.

While defining the formula, we used the potatoes as a base rather than noodles as in our other Kugels. We replicated the caramelized onion Kugel’s custard and secret onion marmalade… And it worked perfectly!

To finalize the Sweet Potato Kugel, we needed a topping that would be crunchy, but we couldn’t use the wheat-based Panko crumb topping because it isn’t gluten-free. We debated between walnuts and pecans, and ultimately went with walnuts, which really made the taste explode in your mouth with each bite. With fingers crossed, we sent the sweet potato samples to the lab for gluten-free testing and the results were 9 PPM! Uncle George’s Kugel is now certified gluten free! We have to maintain compliance and test every batch.

Hope you enjoy! Let us know what you think in the comments below.

Michele Locker

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