The science of cookies

"Baking is a science…" How many times have you heard that? Well it is… kind of. If you know a bit about science, you can improvise recipe with surprisingly good results. Let’s take a look at cookies. My standard cookie recipe is as follows:

 

350g Bread flour.

2g Salt.

3g Baking Soda.

***SIFT***

 

1 Egg.

58g Milk.

15g Vanilla.

***Mix***

 

226g Butter (2 sticks).

213g Sugar.

75g Brown Sugar.

***Cream***

 

Mix liquids with butter/sugar.

Pour liquids over dry ingredients.

Fold to combine.

 

360g Peanut Butter M&M’s.

Fold to combine. Chill in refridgerator at least 30 minutes.

Bake @ 350 9-12 minutes depending on your doneness preference.

 

Why is everything in grams? Because I hate measuring cups… it’s a weird OCD thing. Plus the humidity has a big effect on how much liquid flour will soak up, how tight is your sugar packed? If you want inconsistant results, use measuring cups. If you want good cookies and other baked goods, a digital baker’s scale is your best friend. Be sure to get one that can go between pounds/ounces and Kilos/Grams. And look for a "Tare" or zero feature so you can easily subtract the weight of the bowl and other ingredients.

 

You may see some recipes in ounces/pounds, but if you learn to use grams, they are more accurate since they are a smaller unit of measure.

 

Okay… so now we have a basic recipe. How does improvisation fit in? Well tonight, I wanted to make chocolate cookies for some ice cream sandwiches. Let’s compare the chocolate cookie recipe and the regular cookie recipe. (I’ve also included some pics so that you could get a visual on the technique.

 


Original

350g Bread flour.

2g Salt.

3g Baking Soda.

***SIFT***

 

Chocolate

300g AP flour.

50g Unsweetened Cocoa Powder.

2g Salt.

3g Baking Soda.

***SIFT***

 

Similar, right? I substituted 50g of flour with 50g of cocoa. You’ll also notice that I switched from Bread Flour to AP. I like bread flour in a normal cookie because of the extra gluten… the same stuff that makes pizza dough stretchy delicous makes cookies a bit taller, controlling the "spread" during the baking process.  Switching to AP will make a flatter cookie (better for sandwiching ice cream with)

 


Original

1 Egg.

58g Milk.

15g Vanilla.

***Mix***

 

Chocolate

1 Egg.

58g Butter Milk.

20g Vanilla.

***Mix***


Again, very similar. I switched to buttermilk for a bit of tang, and added a miniscule amount of vanilla to compliment the chocolate.

 


Original

226g Butter (2 sticks).

213g Sugar.

75g Brown Sugar.

***Cream***

 

Chocolate

226g Butter (2 sticks), melted.

288g Sugar.

***Cream***


 

Okay, in the original recipe, I use room temperature butter. The butter has to be room temperature so that it will cream, or mix properly with the sugar.  Also, after the batter is mixed I chill it for about 30 minutes. The colder butter helps the cookies rise… helping to produce a taller cookie. For the chocolate version I wanted a shorter cookie so I used melted butter and did not chill the finished batter. I combined the white and brown sugar amounts from the original recipe and used all white sugar in the chocolate cookie recipe. Brown sugar lends a chewiness to the cookies… I wanted a snappier cookie for this application so all white sugar it was!

 

These cookies were for St. Patrick’s day and would be the book ends on a fresh mint and vanilla bean ice cream. Somehow, I thought peanut butter M&M’s would be out of place… I substituted some Andes mints. I admit, I did not weigh these… I eyeballed an amount that would work well with the dough, It ended up being 42 mints, broken in half.

 

The mixing process was the same, except as I mentioned before, I did not chill the chocolate cookies.

 

Mix liquids with butter/sugar.

Pour liquids over dry ingredients.

Fold to combine.

 

 

Pretty flat cookies…

 

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