The effects of variation in fat content (0.1% to 15.8%) and type of fat, using different types of milk, dairy cream, or vegetable fat cream, on sensory characteristics and consumer acceptance of starch-based vanilla model custards were studied. Descriptive analysis with trained panelists and consumer testing with untrained assessors were applied. Descriptive data were related to hedonic data using principal component analysis to determine drivers of liking and disliking. Results demonstrated an increasing effect of fat concerning visual and oral thickness, creamy flavor, and fat-related texture properties, as well as a decreasing effect concerning yellow color and surface shine. A lack of fat caused moderate intensities in pudding-like flavor attributes and an intensive jelly texture. Adding a vegetable fat cream led to lower intensities in attributes yellow color, cooked flavor, thick, and jelly texture, whereas intensities in vegetable fat flavor and fat-related texture properties increased. All consumers favored custards with medium fat contents, being high in pudding-like and vegetable fat flavor as well as in fat-related texture attributes. Nonfat custards were rejected due to jelly texture and moderate intensities in pudding-flavor attributes. High-fat samples were liked by some consumers, but their high intensities in thickness, white color, and creamy flavor also drove disliking for others.
Consumers’ concerns about obesity, diseases, and fat in foods change and the demand for fat reduced food increases. Therefore, the food industry is facing a challenge to produce fat-reduced products with comparable characteristics to the full-fat counterparts. With the intention of reducing fat in food, it is important to evaluate its effect on sensory properties. Furthermore, it has to be examined, how fat affects consumer liking and which sensory properties are responsible for the results. Representing a semisolid model food, the effects of fat were studied in model vanilla custard.