Cookie Rhapsodizing

Day’s Verse:
Watch your words and hold your tongue;
you’ll save yourself a lot of grief.

Proverbs 21:23

I was going to write a blog about my wet, miserable, all alone, cut-short bike ride, but who wants to read about that? Even I don’t. So we’ll move on to something nicer: Cookies.

I can’t remember if I’ve mentioned the cookie cookbook Colleen and Jordan gave me for Christmas. I think I have. It’s large, dense, and starts off discussing the theory of cookies and then goes into seemingly excruciating picky detail about ingredients. Nearly every recipe calls for ingredients like light corn syrup or candied ginger, things I don’t think any normal household regularly keeps on hand. It sternly instructs new bakers to follow the recipes exactly the first time, and the way it’s written you get the sense that any future deviations from the recipe would probably be ill-considered, too.

Needless to say, I was intimidated. It’s taken me three months to bravely crack it open, and then finding a simple enough recipe with standard ingredients took some doing. So far I’ve made two recipes, exactly according to the recipe, and both have turned out not just good but fabulous. The first was a peanut cookie with molasses, and they turned out wonderful — unique, delicious, and yet not overpowering.

The second recipe I just baked tonight, a simple and basic oatmeal raisin cookie. I almost always add chocolate chips to such a recipe, but mindful of the stricture against such improvisation, I stuck with the recipe as written. WOW. They’re sweet, but not overly so; hearty and tending towards the snacklike, but definitely still desert; the raisins, soaked in hot water, are soft, a nice counterpoint to the walnuts; and they’re creamy, if a cookie can be described thus.

Here’s my ideal for a cookie: Crispy with a little crunch as you bite into it, soft and gooey in the middle, but still holding together (cookies that droop or ooze when you’ve bitten them are undercooked, and although enjoyable aren’t quite perfect). These oatmeal raisin cookies may well be my current zenith in cookie-making, the epitome of the Perfect Cookie.

And I have enough to share.

PS – The time change has left me all discombobulated. We forgot about it until I woke up this morning at 6:15 and suddenly realized it was actually 7:15. It also reminded me how arbitrary time was, and made me think how funny it is that we all just agree to fabricate an hour out of nowhere every year — and it works. We say it’s 8:30 pm, and as long as we all agree, it is 8:30 pm. As I said: Funny.

Cookie Science

Day’s Verse:
“Shout and be glad, Daughter Zion. For I am coming, and I will live among you,” declares the LORD.
Zechariah 2:10

A cookie recipe was received and tested. The recipe as written included directions for 3 different baking temperatures and times. This study evaluated all three combinations, seeking to determine the best combination. Subjects were randomly selected and subjectively evaluated cookies, providing feedback on preference.

One batch of dough was prepared, strictly following the directions.

The dough was divided roughly into thirds. Each third was further divided into cookie-sized units using two teaspoons. Two batches of cookies were put onto black bakeware cookie sheets; the third batch was reserved, and put on a used black bakeware sheet after the first batch had been removed and the cookie sheet had cooled.

One batch was baked at 325°F for 12 minutes; the next batch at 350°F for 9 minutes; and the final batch at 375°F for 8 minutes. All cookies were immediately removed from cookie sheets and cooled completely on wire racks.

Subjects were provided with a representative cookie sample from each batch and polled on preference. This was not a blind taste-test, and subjects were aware of time/temperature combinations while consuming cookies.

The first batch, baked at 325°F for 12 minutes, appeared slightly set and golden-brown all over when removed from the oven. They were soft when removed from the cookie sheet. When cooled, they appeared moderately crunchy.

The second batch, baked at 350°F for 9 minutes, appeared unset and very lightly golden around the edges when removed from the oven. They were very soft when removed from the cookie sheet. When cooled, they appeared crunchy around the edges but lightly cooked in the middle.

The third batch, baked at 375°F for 8 minutes, appeared slightly set and lightly golden all over when removed from the oven. They were very soft when removed from the cookie sheet. When cooled, they appeared crunchy around the edges and cooked through the middle.

So far, subject n = 4*. All subjects agree that cookies baked at 350°F for 9 minutes were most delicious, exhibiting desirable cookie qualities of crunchy outer edge and soft interior. Cookies baked at 325°F for 12 minutes and cookies baked at 375°F for 8 minutes were both deemed overall too crunchy. Cookies baked at 325°F for 12 minutes were considered crunchiest and least desirable, while cookies baked at 375°F for 8 minutes were considered reasonably good, but not as desirable as the cookies baked 350°F for 9 minutes.

Cookies in this recipe appear to bake best at 350°F for 9 minutes. Future research into lower cook times at 325°F may provide additional data points. All data are subject to suspicion due to the low n value. Additional subjects are requested for participation if available in the next 24 hours.**

* Including one self-professed “cookie snob,” who is discriminating about cookies.
** In English: This is your chance to have free cookies! Call me if you want to try the three cookies and give your input on which is best.