Learn the science behind:
Feel like a dessert after a barbecue but don’t know anything that seems fitting? Good thing we’ve got a solution for you: how better to end your barbecue than with a dessert made on the barbecue? Introducing the barbecookie, a cookie made on the barbecue, even better, made on the remaining heat of the barbecue (that is if you’re using coals). When you’re out camping or don’t have an oven, a barbecue is a great way to make your warm sweet dessert after all those savoury bites (but if you’re at home, feel free to eat with home made ice cream…).
Before making a barbecookie, I never really saw the point of making one huge cookie (except for the fact it’s less work). It’s a lot harder to share and in an oven it isn’t too much trouble to just make a lot of smaller cookies. However, a skillet cookie does make sense to make when barbecueing. It’s more or less the only way to bake a decent cookie, image trying to place a lot of small cookies on the barbecue using some parchment paper. The parchment paper will probably catch fire at some point.
The only things you need are a barbecue proof skillet (cast iron for instance), a barbecue and your favorite cookie dough. At the end of this post you can find the recipe, but before that we’ll dive into the science of baking cookies, on a barbecue!
How to bake cookies on a barbecue
The big difference between baking cookies on a barbecue versus an oven is the source of heat. When baking cookies in an oven the air around the cookie will have warmed up and heat will come into the cookie from both the top as well as the bottom.
However, when baking cookies on a barbecue, the air around the cookie will not be as warm as in the oven. Especially at the top the air might well be only slightly warmer than the surrounding air. The heat from the bottom on the other hand is quite intense. That makes baking a cookie on a barbecue and balance between burning the bottom before having fully baked the top!
If the cookie would be baked on a very hot barbecue the bottom of the cookie will cook fast. What’s more, browning and burning reactions such as the Maillard reaction and caramelization will proceed quite fast at the bottom! However, since the heat has to travel through the cookie to reach the top, the top will take a lot longer to heat and bake through. Since there is no top heating, it simply takes a while. Thus, a high heat will most likely burn the bottom before the top has had the time to heat fully.
If the cookie is heated more slowly on the other hand, browning and caramelization don’t go as fast on the bottom. That will give the heat time to travel through the cookie and cook the top as well! So we want only a moderate heat of your barbecue. Since we don’t have any sort of a thermometer on our barbecue, that’s a little bit of a guess and gut feel.
Perfect for the end of a barbecue
Since we want a moderate heat for a slightly longer period of time to fully bake the cookie well, it’s best to do the cookie at the end of the barbecue, when you’ve got some remaining heat in those coals. At this point you won’t need the excessive heat anymore, and the barbecue can cool down slowly while the cookie is baking.
The higher heat at the start will give the skillet enough opportunity to heat up and the lower heat over time will give the top to cook slowly, without the bottom being so hot anymore and burning!
Covering up the cookie
It is possible to bake a cookie on the barbecue without a lid. However, since all the heat will literally have to travel all the way through the skillet and cookie it will take a long time to bake. Better is to somewhat cover up the cookie. The preferred method is to place a lid on top. That way evaporating moisture (read here what happens when baking cookies) has a chance to escape while the heat around the cookie is well kept within. If you don’t have a lid aluminium foil is another option, try to let moisture escape through the sides in that case. Using aluminium foil will give a slightly more dense and moist cookie.
Structure of a barbecookie
The main characteristic of this barbecookie is its structure: it’s super crispy and nice and brown at the bottom whereas the top tends to be soft still and more on the chewy side. In other words, everyone will like the cookie (or at least part of it) no matter what type of cookie person you are.
Want a softer cookie still? Cover the cookie with aluminium foil to keep in the moisture.
Want a crispier cookie? Best is to reduce the amount of dough you put in the pan. A thin cookie will crisp up far more easily (and bake faster)!
Barbecue skillet chocolate cookie recipe
You don’t need a special cookie for a barbecue skillet cookie. A conventional cookie recipe will work just fine. I used a recipe from Sally’s baking addiction as a start and modified it. Feel free to simplify the recipe (you can leave out the extracts for instance).