Just like with any food, I like to understand the science of cookies. Why do I have to add certain ingredients and why do I have to do certain processes? If I don’t see a reason to add or do something, chances are I won’t. If ingredients have to be added in a certain order I have to understand why that is, or I most likely will simply neglect the instruction. For that reason I already wrote about the role of flour, sugar and butter in shortbread cookies and I tried making cookies with baking powder vs baking soda as well as plain flour vs pasta flour!
Besides that, I tend to read up on my food (cookie) science. And it so happens that cookie science is a super popular topic! So much so that I think it would be very beneficial for you all to have a look at these great sources as well! Hopefully, the foodcrumbles posts in combination with these suggestions will allow you to ramp up your cookie science knowledge!
1. Handle the Heat – The Ultimate Chocolate Chip Cookie Guide
This was one of the first super extensive cookie baking guides I found. It’s written by Tessa, the blogger on Handletheheat.com. It’s great and has lots and lots of detail. She must have baked hundreds (if not more) of cookies to test out all the different variables.
The mega-long post gives you tips on the effect of baking soda and baking powder, flour, sugar and the type of fat used. But that’s not all, she also discusses which type of baking tray to use and how it affects your cookies, what the effect of creaming butter is and what temperature to use.
Last but not least, there’s a whole list of issues you might run into with tips on how to fix it. If you want to make that perfect cookie, this is definitely one of the best places to go.
2. The Kitchn – Cookie course
Want to learn all about the different styles of cookies available (piped, dropped, formed)? Want to know how to make a cookie more crunchy or more chewy? Want to learn the influence of the different ingredients and how to adjust them to get your perfect cookie?
Then this site is a good place to start. They give simple, easy tips with a lot of photos to illustrate the effects they describe. The focus and style are slightly different than the one from Handle the Heat, but both give great content!
3. TedEd – Cookie science video
One of my favorites, a simple but great movie explaining several aspects of cookie science in more detail. It’s a nice watch:
4. Science Friday – A podcast on cookies
Yes, even if you’re busy, on the road, or doing something else that doesn’t allow you to bake cookies now (or read about cookies, or watch something about cookies). You can still listen to people talking about cookies!
Science Friday discusses the ultimate cookie and how to make it. A tip for podcast listeners and for those who prefer to hera someone explain it instead of reading it.
5. SeriousEats – The ultimate guide
I referred to this one before. But it’s a good one so it should be part of the list for sure. This is definitely one of the most extensive cookie trials (ever) done! It’s amazing, nothing I would want to repeat completely, but there’s a lot to learn so you can get it right in only one (or maybe two) go’s.
I would say it’s the most elaborate of all of them and well written as well. It really gives you the chance to dig deep into cookie science since it tries to explain a lot of their findings in an understandable way.
Ok, Serious Eats really likes cookies, they’ve made a lot of different comparisons! Here’s another one focussing on the effect of baking powder vs baking soda on your cookies. And another one discussing the effect of eggs on cookies.
6. UCLA – Cookie lecture
What’s the best lecture you can get in university?
I guess getting a cookie science lecture ends up pretty high in that list! It’s exactly what the guys at UCLA did. A real cookie science lecture comparing different recipes and being all sciency about them. A nice read, though not with that much details.
7. Cheatsheet – 5 cookie recipes
Is your head close to cookie science saturation. Don’t worry, we’ve got a few slightly more low-scale tips for you. One of them is from Cheatsheet.
Feeling a little lazy and don’t want to figure out your ideal recipe by yourself? This website shares 5 distinct cookies with each their own texture and experience. Just choose the one you prefer and make it!
8+9. Sciencebuddies & Science News – Science fair cookies
We already learned cookies are full of science here. So what would prevent kids from doing some cookies science for a science fair project? Sciencebuddies agrees with me and has a nice simple proposal. Reading through some of the guides mentioned above though might help in making that project even cooler and more interesting.
Good thing that Science News for students thought so as well, so they made a very extensive guide looking into cookie science! It’s a real level up here.
10. FoodCrumbles – Role of ingredients
There’s quite a lot of cookie science on this blog as well. The one we certainly have to mention here is one of the more basic post, explaining the role of flour, sugar and butter in shortbread cookies (and the follow up, discussing the role of leavening agent, sugar and flour). The said though, we can’t really not mention the post that explains to you why Oreos are such a pitch black colour!
11. Buzzfeed – Chocolate chip cookie guide
Chocolate chip cookies are popular when it comes to ultimate guides! Here’s another one from buzzfeed, again with quite a lot of photos.
12. Kitchen Conundrums – Cakey vs Crispy vs Chewy
Had enough of reading through all those guides and instructions? Here’s a very simple and concise guide for chocolate chip cookies. It compares three varieties, doesn’t have the in-depth analysis, but if you just want to get baking, this is the one to go for.
13. Bateman’s Bakery – Cookie Tips Video
Have some time left? Here’s a 15 minute video in which a guy bakes cookies. He explains a lot of different aspects of the cookie: regular vs. brown sugar, invert sugar, why to use melted butter, etc. It might take a little long, but if you’re really into cookie science and want to know even more than this is a nice one to watch.
14. Malcolm Gladwell – How to come up with a new cookie
This last one is not about how to make a cookie or how ingredients interact. Instead, it’s a great story about a cookie bake-off. Even though in the end cookies were baked, the story is about how the three participating teams came to their final cookie idea. The story doesn’t necessarily focus on the cookies, but gives some great insights into how product development can work and how people come up with new ideas.
Number 15… Serious eats
I’ve already reached 14, but there’s another one I ran into later that has to be added. I didn’t find the article itself directly, but instead heard this one on a podcast!
It’s an interview on the podcast from food52 with author Kenji López-Alt. He’s done more than a 100 tests to get to the ultimate chocolate chip cookie. Isn’t that just fabulous? I think it’s great and a good note to end on.