On a hot summer day, can you bake on the dashboard of your car? Yes, you can!!
With the car doors and windows shut, and the summer sun shining, the car can act like an oven. During a particularly hot afternoon while I was travelling in Texas I thought I'd give this idea a try. I've experimented with cooking in cars before with the car-b-que, cooking savory dinner on the engine manifold and muffler, and now I've successfully made tasty desserts on the hot dashboard!
Making dashboard cookies is actually very easy, needing only to cook the egg in the cookie dough mix to be safe to eat. According to eggsafety.org:
It is important to cook eggs thoroughly to destroy bacteria... For eggs, the white will coagulate (set) between 144 and 149° F, the yolk between 149 and 158° F, and whole egg between 144 and 158° F.
With temperatures reaching 107°F (41°C) outside, I knew the dashboard of my rental car would be hotter, and be perfect to make freshly baked goodies while I was seeking shelter somewhere there was air conditioning (and possibly a frosty beverage).
Step 1: Supplies
- summer heat like the fire of a thousand suns (or, Texas in summer)
- non-stick cookie sheets
- parchment paper
- packaged cookie dough
Step 2: Lay Out Cookies
Even though you've got a non-stick cookie sheet I find it's easiest to line it with parchment paper. Cookie removal and cleanup is much easier.
Lay out cookie dough onto parchment lined sheet, allowing space between cookies for them to expand when cooking.
Step 3: Place on Dashboard
The car I used had a large dashboard with plenty of sunlight coming through the windshield. Your car may vary. Find a place where you get the most sunlight in your car, and that has a level surface. If you have a slanted surface (or if you are parked on a slope) your cookies can slide on the parchment and become squished, and squished cookies are no good.
Make sure to place your thermometer pointing outwards to you can monitor the internal temperature of the car from outside.
Step 4: Preheat Oven
Inside a closed car temperatures can get very hot, my temperature readings were between 150-160°F (65-71°C).
Knowing that egg whites coagulate at 144-149°F, our dashboard baking oven is at the perfect temperature.
Step 5: Bake
Shut the doors and let the sun do its work. Despite the temptation, do not open the car! Opening the doors will let heat escape and cool your car, meaning it will take longer for your cookies to bake.
Peek through the windshield and monitor the cooking process. After an hour of baking the cookies looked all mushy, just like in a regular oven!
Step 6: Cookie Time!
After about 2.5 hours I hopped into the car and checked the cookies...success!
With the air conditioning cranked, I let the cookies cool for a few minutes then gobbled them down. Yum!
Step 7: Bonus: Dashboard S'mores
Still buzzing from the cookie success, I wondered what else would be fun to make on my dashboard oven. S'mores, of course!
Using the same baking sheets and parchment paper, I arranged graham crackers with dark chocolate and marshmallows.
Step 8: Encase With Second Cookie Sheet
Because I had extra fluffy marshmallows the graham cracker top didn't want to stay on, so I used a second cookie sheet flipped over to squish the s'mores together and keep everything in place.
Step 9: Bake
Since there's nothing that needs to cook, we're really just melting the chocolate and marshmallows. With the dashboard at about 150°F (65°C) this took less than 10 minutes.
Covering my hands with a shirt to protect from the hot cookie sheet, I pulled the s'mores from the dashboard and opened up the enclosure. Perfect, gooey s'mores!
Step 10: Be a Cookie Monster
When you come back to your car you'll have tasty treats ready to go!
If you're feeling generous you might want to share, but that's up to you.