Wednesday, July 13, 2011

NEW! Chocolate Chip Cookie Comparison Study

Hello readers whom I'm not sure exist. (If you do, please leave a comment!)

It recently occurred to me that there are a lot of chocolate chip cookie recipes on the internet. It also recently occurred to me that while I have a favourite recipe, and it usually turns out quite well, there might be a better one out there somewhere. Combined with my compulsion to bake things, the ever-accumulating amount of recipes in my recipe box, and my love of science, I've decided to do a little investigation.

I looked through my Google Reader feed for all the Chocolate Chip Recipes on all of the blogs I follow. I came up with a total of 15. Four of those recipes were eliminated because they were duplicates (3) or near-duplicates (1). Once I move into my new place, I will bake one or two recipes a week, precisely as recorded, and feed them to a carefully selected panel (i.e. my friends and family) of cookie enthusiasts. Each participant will fill out a baseline survey indicating chocolate chip cookie preferences (i.e. chewy vs. crispy, soft vs. crunchy, large vs. small). After sampling each recipe, participants will then fill out a short questionnaire about that particular recipe.

Of course, being a scientist, I have to have some controls to help provide the best results. First, I will control for chocolate. This is the only alteration to the recipes I am making: I am going to use the same chocolate chips in all of the recipes. What I really want to test is the texture of the cookie, not the quality of the chocolate called for. I am also controlling for production variances: there is only one baker, ergo the techniques called for in each recipe should be performed consistently. I am controlling for environmental conditions (i.e. the oven) by using an oven thermometer to ensure the oven is at the correct temperature called for by the recipe, and I am using the same oven and cookie sheets for each recipe (which is why I can't start until I move into my new place in September; all my cookie sheets are currently packed away!). I will also be controlling for materials variance, because I will be using the same ingredients across all recipes where called for. E.g. I will use the same brand (and probably bag) of flour in all recipes that call for all-purpose flour.

Once all the data has been collected, it will be entered and analyzed by yours truly. I'm really interested in what kinds of features make a great cookie recipe. Will the recipes with melted butter score higher over the recipes with chilled or warm butter? Will recipes with white AND brown sugars score higher than recipes with either sugar by itself? With the famed NY Times Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe be rated the best like everyone claims?

The recipes I will be using have been linked to below. Please feel free to suggest any improvements to my methodology!

Chewy Molasses Chocolate Chip Cookies from Joy the Baker

Ad Hoc Chocolate Chip Cookies from Baking Bites

Brown Sugar Chocolate Chip Cookies from Baking Bites

New York Times Chocolate Chip Cookies posted on My Baking Addiction

Big Fat Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies is currently my default recipe, also posted on Best Friends for Frosting

Big Chocolate Chip Cookies from My Baking Addiction

Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies from 6 Bittersweets

Chocolate Chunk and Vanilla Bean Cookies from Coconut & Lime

Chocolate Chip Cookies from Chocolate & Zucchini

Giant Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies also from Baking Bites

And lastly, Our Favourite Chocolate Chip Cookies from Smitten Kitchen