Introduction: Cookie Chemistry

About: Lover of hackers, knitters, cupcake bakers, shennanigans, sci-fi/fantasy, board games, coding and men in drag. Find me blogging at Catch me on Twitter too! @zazenergy
It was a dark and stormy night, and all lay quiet through the house.

On this cool October evening, rain pattered on the windows and I could think of nothing better than curling up with a book, a cup of hot cocoa and some warm cookies.

There was only one problem. I didn't have the right ingredients to make the classic Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookies! In fact, I didn't have the right ingredients to make any kind of cookie -- not enough flour, butter and sugar in the house, and with the rain pouring down I wasn't about to head outside. 

Fortunately for me, I know a thing or two about the chemistry of baking and was able to cobble together a variety of ingredients from the kitchen pantry to make some really delicious cookies!

In this Instructable we'll go over the original Toll House recipe and the "hacked" recipe I created. I'll also provide a few tips for how to make great cookies on the fly.

Step 1: Assess What You Have in Your Pantry

Here's a picture of what I had available. More detailed:
  • I only had one stick of butter left, most cookie recipes call for more fat than that
  • Some canola oil
  • Half empty bags of white flour and almond meal
  • A little white sugar, some brown sugar, some crystallized honey, some molasses and peanut butter
  • A half empty bag of chocolate chips, nearly empty bag of trail mix, half eaten candy bar
  • A couple eggs
  • Various spices and extracts
Faced with this situation, most people would run to the store and pick up a bit extra of whatever was needed. Not me, though! Next, let's take a look at the original recipe and I'll show you to modify it to suit what you've got.

Step 2: Modifying Your Recipe

Here's the original Toll House Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe ingredients:

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
2 cups (12-oz. pkg.) NESTLÉ® TOLL HOUSE® Semi-Sweet Chocolate Morsels
1 cup chopped nuts

Here's how I modified this recipe based on my ingredients available:

2 cups flour
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons almond flour
pinch of cinnamon
2 large eggs
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1/2 cup canola oil
1/2 cup butter
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 cup white sugar 
1 tablespoon molasses
2 tablespoons honey
1 tablespoon peanut butter
 handful of chocolate chips
handful of trail mix
1/2 a chocolate bar, broken up loosely

Onto the chemistry...

Step 3: Chemistry of Cookies

I'm no expert and this definitely was experimentation, but here the two basic rules I followed:

1. Try to keep the ratio of dry to wet ingredients relatively constant. I love almond meal for its nutty taste, so I decided to substitute part of the flour with that. Because I find almond meal to dry out cookies, I added a little more "wet" to compensate.

2. For soft and chewy cookies (This was the type of cookie I was going after):

Melted butter and vegetable oils do the trick. I used a combination of both.
Use brown sugar, honey, corn syrup and molasses. They'll both help with browning and keep those cookies nice and chewy a day later.

For thin and crunchy cookies:

Softened butter is going to be your fat of choice.
Use white sugar 

Onto the recipe!

Step 4: Zazenergy's Kitchen Pantry Cookie Recipe

It's pretty simple!

Preheat the oven to 375° F.
Combine all your dry ingredients in one bowl.  
Combine all your wet ingredients in a separate bowl (this includes sugar).
Add the dry ingredients to the wet ingredients gradually, until combined. Then, take your favorite toppings and mix them in.
Wrap your dough up like a log in plastic wrap and put it in the freezer for 30 minutes (or just pop the bowl in the fridge for an hour). 
When it's nice and chilled, cut out 1/2 inch thick slices and bake them for 10 minutes or under the edges are golden.

I was very pleasantly surprised when these came out of the oven! They were way beyond how I could have imagined them tasting. So good! 

Halloween Food Challenge

Participated in the
Halloween Food Challenge