Macademia white chocolate cookie – Impact of leavening agent, sugar & flour

Cookies and science are a great combination, as we found out when collecting more than 10 sciency cookie posts. It is so easy to vary little aspects within cookie recipes to test out the impact of all these different changes. Having analyzed the impact of flour, sugar and butter on shortbread cookies, I decided to do another cookie experiment. It’s time to evaluate the impact of different leavening agents, sugar and flour types on macademia white chocolate cookies.

We often hear that for baking sweets & breads ratio and ingredient instructions have to be followed to the tea. Let’s see if that also holds for cookies?

White chocolate macademia cookies

I used a recipe from Table for Two as a starting point for my cookies experiment. The basic recipe I used is shown below, but I made several variations of the same recipe. I looked at the impact of sugar as well as flour type.

Macademia white chocolate cookie revisited
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
  • 150g of flour (recipe 1 & 2 regular flour; recipe 3 50/50 whole wheat flour:plain flour; recipe 4 pasta flour)
  • ½ teaspoon of baking soda (recipe 1, 3 and 4)
  • ½ teaspoon of baking powder (recipe 2)
  • ¼ teaspoon of salt
  • 80g sugar
  • 45g butter
  • 25g egg
  • 10g water
  • some vanilla flavouring
  • macademias & white chocolate or roasted pistachios & almonds
  1. Whip butter and sugar, then add the eggs
  2. Mix flour, raising agent and salt
  3. Mix the flour mix with the butter mix and vanilla
  4. Knead in macademia and chocolate
  5. Shape in small balls and bake in the oven at 175C for 12 minutes

Impact of sugar

The cookies on the photo above show the samples made for the ‘sugar test. Both cookies were made using recipe 1 (in the recipe I made a distinction between 4 different recipes, we will zoom in on the others later. The types of sugar used were:

  1. Brown cookie: 1 tsp cornstarch and 80g of brown ‘basterd’ sugar (‘Basterd’ sugar is a Dutch sugar, most like regular brown sugar)
  2. White cookie: No cornstarch and 80g of granulated sugar.

When making the two doughs the difference between the recipes became apparent immediately! The white dough could be kneaded pretty easily, it was soft. The brown dough on the other hand was very very firm, hard to knead. This douh would tend to fall apart instead of being deformed easily.

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The two different doughs

The difference has to be caused by the sugar. Cornstarch only starts absorbing water etc. when it’s heated. Standard granulated sugar doesn’t really absorb too much water in a dough either. It’s a crystal and will stay that way in the dough. ‘Basterd’ sugar on the other hand dissolves in a dough more easily, it is also more hygroscopic, absorbing more moisture.

Evaluating the cookies

Once the cookies had cooled down it was time to taste! Both recipes actually tasted good and were (as described by the original recipe) chewy, not crunchy. Even though the doughs felt different in structure the final cookies didn’t differ that much in structure. Flavour was slightly different though, we preferred the white ones.

Influence of flour type and raising agent

As a second test I went back to granulated sugar and started varying the flour & raising agents.

  1. No tweaks
  2. Baking powder instead of baking soda
  3. 50:50 regular:whole wheat flour
  4. Pasta flour

This time no big differences were to be seen when making the cookie doughs (as expected). If anything, the whole wheat cookie was a little tougher and flowed less easily.

All cookies also turned out fine when they came out of the oven and to be honest, I wasn’t able to see any difference between the recipes 1-2 & 4. I could easily identify the whole wheat flour version though. It was less smooth, hadn’t spread out as nicely as the others in the oven and had a different colour. You could also taste a difference, the whole wheat version was slightly more moist. softer and less crunchy.

Learnings of trial 2

  • Using either baking powder or baking soda makes no difference to the final cookie
  • Using pasta flour vs. regular flour does not make a difference for this cookie

Be creative!

Because, as you see, cookies recipes are quite robust and can handle quite some changes and modifications without being too much affected. So read more on example of cookie science or bake more cookies such as pepernoten or shortbread!

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