In search of the perfect cookie: Week 2 in Northfield, MN

Young chefs this week focused on the scientific method through experimentation with cookie recipes. To explore this, students were given a chocolate chip cookie which was made following the recipe exactly and asked to think about the impact of altering the ingredients or cooking processes.

At Northfield Middle School, the groups choose to investigate the impact of using melted butter, altering the cooking time, using baking soda instead of baking powder and increasing the amount of vanilla extract. While the cookies were baking the students came up with different criteria to use in evaluating the cookies.

These categories included hardness, size, color and sweetness. Generally, the students were very methodical about testing the cookies and filling out their chart. Melting the butter yielded a golden brown cookie that was chewy in the center with crispier edges. When the cookies were baked for 2 minutes shorter than the recipe called for, they were very doughy in the center and had a greasy appearance.

The baking soda made the cookies less flattened out, but also gave them a bitter flavor. The vanilla cookies were not significantly different from the control in terms of flavor, and were less chewy than the cookies made with melted butter. It was almost universally agreed that the cookies with melted butter were the best and the cookies that used baking soda were the worst. Overall, the lesson was very successful because the kids were very enthusiastic about the cooking, but were also voluntarily engaged in the scientific lesson that accompanied it.

Rebecca Fairchild, Carleton College ’18

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