The Chocolate Cookie Myth

No, the title of this piece doesn’t refer to whether or not chocolate cookies exist.  I know full well that they do and that the original recipe was engraved in ancient Sumerian cuneiform by Gilgamesh himself.  No, I refer to a myth regarding the making of them.

The act of baking can be overly complicated at times.  I cannot count the number of times I’ve opened a new recipe, only to find a half dozen unnecessary steps.  I call it the “poached egg syndrome” because of the myths surrounding that dish.  Poached eggs are simple.  Heat water and crack eggs in and cook until done, but I’ve heard some interesting and useless steps like heating the water to boiling and then allowing to cool slightly.  This kind of thing is fairly common in baking recipes as well.

As bakers (only slightly more than any type of cook) we are scientists and I feel a major part of being a scientist is healthy skepticism.  We must analyze the processes to see what is important and what is superfluous.  Anyway, many bakers make the claim that when making chocolate cookies, you must always make the dough a day in advance.  This, so they claim, vastly improves the quality of the finished product.  This seems a perfect area for experimentation.

Ingredients
Note: With things like chocolate chip cookies I like using volumetric measurements rather than weight.  It seems appropriate somehow.

1 Cup Butter
1 Cup Brown Sugar
1/2 Cup White Sugar
2 Eggs
1 Tbs Vanilla
2 Cups Flour
1/2 Tsp Salt
1 Tsp Baking Soda
3 Cups Chocolate Chips

Method

Cream the butter, sugar and vanilla.  Mix in the eggs one at a time and then add the combined dry ingredients.  Finally mix in the chocolate chips.  Roll the dough into one inch balls, put on a baking sheet and bake at 375° for about ten to twelve minutes.

Normally I would at least chill the dough slightly to make it easier to handle but for now I’m going to bake the first batch right away.  For the next batch I’ll store the dough in the fridge and bake the next day.

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So the verdict?  Is there a difference?

The answer is slightly complicated.  It seems to me that the next-day-cookies are in fact slightly more tasty.  That could of course be leaning towards confirmation bias.  Without being able to try both batches fresh from the oven (unless I were to physically make two batches of dough) it’s slightly harder to tell.  If you’re feeling ambitious please do try.  Do a full on scientific study if you’re even more ambitious and want to recruit your friends for a blind tasting.  For me though, the answer is clear enough.  Because chocolate cookies are an impulse bake for me, and seldom planned, I feel quite comfortable saying that the difference isn’t significant enough to really worry about.  I will continue to make my cookies the same day as I make my dough and I will feel pretty sure that I wont hardly notice the difference.

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