Part 2: Sugar Showdown
Welcome to part two of my journey of making the best chocolate chip cookie that the world has ever seen. In the first installment of “The Cookie Experiment,” we investigate flour and found that the optimal mix was half bread flour and half cake flour. If you would like to read more, click here.
In this installment, we set our sights on sugar. Flour may be what holds the party together, but sugar is the reason you keep coming back. For the purposes of this experiment, we will be using three types of sugar:
- Granulated Sugar: No Molasses
- Light Brown Sugar: Some Molasses
- Dark Brown Sugar: Maximum Molasses
Really, what we will be examining is the optimum amount of molasses content to include in a cookie. To do this, we will be combining the three varieties of sugar in a number of ways. These ways include:
- 100% Granulated
- 100% Dark Brown
- 100% Light Brown
- 50% Granulated, 50% Light Brown
- 50% Dark Brown, 50% Granulated
- 50% Dark Brown, 50% Light Brown
- 33% Each
For the sake of consistency, I will use the same recipe as last time. However, since it has been determined that the optimal flour ratio for chocolate chip cookies is 50% bread flour and 50% cake flour, it will be a fixture in the new recipe. The recipe is as follows:
- 1 Cup of Softened Butter
- 1.5 Cups of Sugar (Total)
- 2 Eggs
- 2 Teaspoons of Vanilla
- 1 Teaspoon of Baking Soda
- 1 Teaspoon Salt
- 1.125 Cups of Cake Flour
- 1.125 Cups of Bread Flour
- 2 Cups of Chocolate Chips
This is where things begin to get complicated, so I had to resort to the spreadsheets.
I want to make as small of batches as possible, because last time I ended up with a mountain of extra cookie dough. The only problem is that the smaller you go the more precise you have to be with your measurements in order to keep everything consistent. This is only made more difficult by the fact that the measurements get weirder when you divide them. I decided to double the total recipe and divide that into seven equal batches.
Next on my plate was figuring out how to do this. I decided to combine the baking soda, salt, flour, and chocolate chips into one huge bowl to be divided out later. My next step was to mix together the eggs, sugar and vanilla in one large batch.
After creating my large mixtures of separate wet and dry ingredients, I had to measure out my sugar into the appropriate amounts in separate bowls. Many maths later, I had all of my ingredients ready to be mixed together. However, in order to determine the correct amounts of both the wet and dry ingredients needing to be added to each batch, I had to find the total weight of the wet and the dry and divide them seven ways into the mixing bowl of a stand mixer. After that, I mixed each batch for 45 seconds until my dough was formed.
I chilled them for about a half hour, and then formed into balls and baked at 365° for about 15 minutes.
One of the main visual differences that I noticed was that the granulated sugar had the tendency to flatten out more. The other key difference was the color, but that was to be expected.
Finally, it was time to enjoy the fruits of my labor… for science of course.
- 50% Dark Brown, 50% Light Brown -These cookies were incredibly soft. They basically melted in your mouth with a crispy exterior.
- 100% Granulated-These cookies turned out flat, and did not have the nice brown exterior a cookie should have. They tasted a little bland and were missing the richness that the brown sugar provides.
- 100% Dark Brown- Too much of a good thing is not a good thing at all. These cookies were dark, small, and tall. They were crispy on the outside and chewy in the middle, but they almost tasted burnt even though they clearly were not.
- 50% Dark Brown, 50% Granulated-As soon as I bit into this, I was taken back to my childhood. This is the classic cookie that goes well with milk. It was perfectly balanced, flavorful and deep, but not too deep.
- 33% Each-It was very soft, and the flavor was good, but it just wasn’t quite right. It almost seemed like too much was going on with this one.
- 50% Granulated, 50% Light Brown-This one was weird. It was slightly better that the 100% granulated, but not by much.
- 100% Light Brown- The texture was good, but there was not a lot of flavor happening with the bread. It did highlight the taste of the chocolate, but it was a bit boring.
After carefully weighing the attributes of each cookie, the award for best overall cookie goes to the 50% Dark Brown, 50% Granulated. With that being said, the most interesting cookie was the 50% Dark Brown, 50% Light Brown. It was great if you want to try something just a slight bit unorthodox. However, we are looking for the best chocolate chip cookie and not the most interesting one, so it was slightly edged out by the 50% Dark Brown, 50% Granulated cookie, which will be the one that moves on to the next round where we see if butter can be beaten.
Thanks for reading, and I hope to see you next time!