First, the Science:
Put the cookie dough in the oven and the heat triggers a series of chemical reactions, transforming dough into cookies.
- When the dough reaches 92 degrees Fahrenheit, the butter inside melts...causing the dough to spread out. This occurs because butter is an emulsion made of two substances that don't want to stay together. Butter is made water and fat along with dairy solids that help hold them together.
- As the butter melts, the water is released and as it continues to get hotter the released water expands into steam.
- Beating the butter and sugar adds air to the cookie dough. It also dissolves the sugar into the butter adding more air which will help leaven the cookie.
- NOTE: Baking soda spreads the cookie, baking powder puffs it up.
- This expanding water pushes against the dough from the inside, making the dough rise.
- When the dough reaches 136 degrees Fahrenheit, salmonella bacteria often found in raw eggs, die off.
- At 144 degrees Fahrenheit, changes begin in the cookie's proteins (found mostly from the dough's eggs). Exposed to heat, protein strings unfold and give substance to the dough and making it rise.
- At 212 degrees Fahrenheit, the cookie stiffens, cracks are created and steam from the boiling water is released, creating airy pockets that make the cookie light and fluffy
- There is also a leavening agent - baking soda - sodium bicarbonate. The baking soda reacts with acids in the dough to create carbon dioxide gas which also makes airy pockets in the cookie.
- At 310 degrees Fahrenheit, maillard reactions occur. During maillard reactions, proteins and sugars break down and rearrange themselves forming ring-like structures that reflect light. This gives the cookies (or thanksgiving turkey or bread and muffins) their rich brown color. But, even more important this reaction results in a range of flavor and aroma compounds that continue to interact with each other... and drive those waiting around for their cookies to near mayhem in anticipation.
- Finally, at 356 degrees Fahrenheit, the final reaction in the cookie is carmalization. Carmelization occurs when the sugar molecules break down causing the sweet nutty flavor we've all come to love in our cookies.
THE BOTTOM LINE:
- Ooey-gooey: Add 2 cups more flour.
- Pale, chewey cookies: Set oven at 310 degrees Fahrenheit
- Chewy: Substitute bread flour for all-purpose flour.
- A nice tan: Set the oven higher than 350 degrees Fahrenheit (maybe 360-390).
- Crispy with a soft center: Use 1/4 teaspoon baking powder and 1/4 teaspoon baking soda.
- Thick (and less crispy): Freeze the batter for 30 to 60 minutes before baking. This solidifies the butter, which will spread less while baking.
- Cakey: Use more baking soda because, according to Nyberg, it "releases carbon dioxide when heated, which makes cookies puff up."
- Butterscotch flavored: Use 3/4 cup packed light brown sugar (instead of the same amount of combined granulated sugar and light brown sugar).
- Uniformity: If looks count, add one ounce corn syrup and one ounce granulated sugar.
- More flavor: Chilling the dough for at least 24 hours before baking deepens all the flavors, Arias found.
- TIP #1: Butter provides more flavor than shortening or butter substitutes (in a large part due to the amount of water in butter).
- TIP #2: Creamed butter will make cookies lighter, cakier and firmer while melted butter will make the denser and chewier.
- TIP #3: Extra egg whites will make cookies rise more; extra yolks make cookies more tender and fudge-like.
- TIP #4: White sugar yields thin, crisp cookies while brown butter yields tall and moist coolies.
- TIP #5: Baking soda yields craggy, coarse cookies while baking powder yields cakey, smooth cookies
- TIP #6: Less kneading yields craggier cookies with better texture.
- TIP #7: Hand-chopped chocolate yields more intense flavor and better texture.
- TIP #8: There are two special ingredients that influence the texture and look of the cookie (according to Thomas Joseph at Martha Stewart: Butter and Sugar.
- For chewy cookies - use two sticks of butter.
- For thinner and crisp cookies use two and a half sticks.
- For a cakey cookie use one and 3/4 sticks.
- For soft and chewey cookies use one cup of brown sugar and a half a cup of granulated sugar. It's the brown sugar that adds the cheweyness, because it has molasses in it.
- For thin and crisp cookies, you want a higher ratio of granulated sugar: 1 1/4C granulated sugar to 3/4C brown sugar.
- For a cakey cookie you need to reduce the overall sugar in general, Thomas Joseph uses 3/4C granulated sugar and 1/4C brown sugar.
- TIP# 9: ALWAYS use non-salted butter - you want to adjust the amount of salt on your own.
- The Chemistry of Cookies (TEDEd) by Stephanie Warren found at:https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=n6wpNhyreDE&noredirect=1
- Cookie-Baking Chemistry: How to Engineer Your Perfect Sweet Treat (posted 12/3/2013 by Michaeleen Coucleff from NPR found at:http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2013/12/03/248347009/cookie-baking-chemistry-how-to-engineer-your-perfect-sweet-treat
- The Food Lab: The Science of the Best Chocolate Chip Cookies (posted by J. Kenji Lopez-Alt for NPR at:http://sweets.seriouseats.com/2013/12/the-food-lab-the-best-chocolate-chip-cookies.html?ref=search.[Note this site offers advice on kneading times and chocolate prep techniques.]
- The Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookie (with recipe and instructional video by Tessa of "Handle the Heat") found at: http://www.handletheheat.com/ultimate-chocolate-chip-cookies
- The Science Behind Baking Your Ideal Chocolate Chip Cookie (posted 9/4/2014 by Anne Miller from NPR) found at: http://www.npr.org/blogs/thesalt/2014/09/04/345530660/the-science-behind-baking-your-ideal-chocolate-chip-cookie?utm_campaign=storyshare&utm_source=facebook.com&utm_medium=social
- The Science Behind the Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie (a Martha Steward video with Thomas Joseph) found at: http://www.marthastewart.com/1080540/science-behind-perfect-chocolate-chip-cookies#1080540
|Calvin and Hobbes by Bill Watterson|
Thank you, as always for your visit.
What's your favorite type of chocolate chip cookie? What are some of your favorite baking tips? Please leave them in the comments below and feel free to experiment.