Cookie Science

Make these tasty chocolate chip cookies, and see how food science makes them so delicious.

About the Activity

In this activity, you’ll bake a batch of delicious chocolate chip cookies with a recipe from Annie Fox of Tarpon Springs’ Brooker Creek Explorers 4-H Club. Plus, you’ll discover how even the smallest changes to ingredients can make a major difference when it comes to baking.

 

Grades: 1-12
Topic: STEM, Cooking
Estimated Time: 25 Minutes

chocolate chip cookies

Supplies/Ingredients

1 stick of butter, softened
1 egg
1 cup flour
1⁄2 cup white granulated sugar
1⁄2 packed brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla
1⁄2 tsp baking soda
1 cup quick-cooking rolled oats
1 cup chocolate chips

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Activity Steps
Follow these steps to make a batch of delicious chocolate chip cookies.

  1. Preheat the oven to 375°.Did You Know? For cookies to reach an attractive golden brown color, the minimum caramelization temperature is 356°.
  2. Mix the butter using an electric mixer on medium for 30 seconds.Did You Know? Butter temperature makes a difference in your cookies’ size and texture. Chunks of cold butter will produce a cakier cookie, while melted butter makes a chewier cookie with a larger diameter.
celebrity chef and author Carla Hall teaches 4-H'er to cook
  1. Add egg and flour.Fun Fact: You can use any size egg for most recipes that call for six eggs or less, like this one. The weight difference between egg sizes is only about 1/4 ounce.
  2. Add sugar and brown sugar.Fun Fact: Most recipes for chocolate chip cookies call for both granulated sugar and brown sugar, because each plays a role. Doughs with more granulated sugar will be more crisp, and doughs containing more brown sugar will be softer and chewier.
  3. Add the vanilla and baking soda.Did You Know? You can substitute baking powder for the baking soda if you want a fluffier cookie — the carbon dioxide it releases puffs up the cookie.
  4. Beat on medium speed for 2 minutes. Scrape down as needed.
  5. Add oats and chocolate chips and mix until blended.
  6. Scoop out the mixture in tablespoons onto cookie sheets lined with parchment paper, leaving about 2 inches between each mound of cookie dough.
  7. Turn on the oven light. Bake cookies for 8 to 10 minutes, or until lightly browned, peeking at them through the oven window after 1 minute.

Reflection Questions
Questions for your kids and teens.

  1. How did your cookies look after 1 minute baking in the oven?
  2. Was your butter cold, melted, or somewhere in between? How did that affect your cookies?
  3. Why do you think that cookie dough, even though it is delicious, might not be good for your belly?
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Investigate and Explore
Take what you've learned to the next level to learn more and explore the possibilities.

Baking doesn’t lend itself to improvisation as much as cooking. You’re not preparing an existing food item — you have to construct something new from the ingredients alone, and each ingredient plays a part. The types and amounts used matter.

 

Take the two sugars, for example. Aside from the sweetening powers of both, white sugar contributes to cookie crispness when the cookies cool and harden and the sugar crystallizes. Brown sugar helps with a cookie’s tenderness because it has molasses, and it has 35 percent more moisture than granulated. It’s hygroscopic, meaning it easily absorbs moisture from its surroundings.

boy learning to cook at home

Plus it contributes something else — even recipes for crisp chocolate chip cookies include brown sugar because it gives them that butterscotch flavor. Here’s how butter temperature affects the cookie size: cold butter causes the cookies to spread slower as they bake, while dough with melted butter starts out more liquidy and spreads out faster. Butter temperature affects texture because of the air pockets left behind as it converts into gas — cold butter leaves bigger pockets for a cakier result, melted leaves more and smaller holes for a chewier result.

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