by Ava Morlier, Culinary Arts Writer

Happy December! I’m sure you’re swamped with cookie and dessert recipes, so today’s article will give you information to munch on (rather than burdening you with another Christmas cookie recipe).

Ever wonder what happens to your cookie while it’s in the oven? Sure, you mix ingredients in the bowl and all that, but why those ingredients? How does your cookie become a cookie in the span of half an hour?

Well, it’s the ingredients in the cookie dough reacting to each other, and those reactions are initiated by the heat of the oven. Curious? Check out the timeline below to see how your cookie transforms from wet and malleable to dry and crisp!


A Delicious Timeline of How Your Cookies Transform in the Oven


A delicious timeline of how your cookies transform in the oven:

You’ve just whipped up a fresh batch of cookies. You’ve done everything right: You’ve creamed the unsoftened butter with the sugars, added in the rest of the wet ingredients, then finally added all the dry ingredients and mixed well. Why is there such an involved process to make the dough? Adding all the ingredients at once will lead to inconsistent texture; the sugar retains the moisture of the butter, allowing the cookies to develop air pockets throughout the dough. Not creaming the sugar with the butter directly will result in a cookie that will grow upwards rather than spread out.

Now you’re sliding the batch into the preheated oven (not preheating the oven will result in cookies that break apart) and waiting for the wet dough to transform. As the dough cooks, it takes on its full cookie glory!

920-The once semi-solid butter melts, causing the cookie to spread out (giving the cookie its novel round shape). Water is released from the butter and turns into steam within the cookie.

1360– Salmonella (once alive in the egg) dies off, making your cookies safe to eat.

1440– The proteins from the eggs unfold, connect with other proteins and refold, making the egg (and the shape of the cookie) less runny and more solid.

2120– The steam boils away and evaporates, causing the shape of the cookie to solidify and the surface of the cookie to become cracked and dry.

Additionally, air pockets are formed in the cookie (giving it airy flakiness) thanks to the reaction of acid and baking soda forming carbon dioxide gas-filled air pockets.

3100-The Maillard Reaction takes place: Proteins from the egg and sugar break down and relink together, forming structural proteins that give cookies their distinctive golden-brown color. This linking process also results in the development of flavor and aroma (that delicious smell that lets everyone know something good is baking in the oven!). The scent also signifies that your cookies are done! Taking them out as soon as that sweet smell hits your nose results in deliciously chewy (and not overcooked/tough) cookies!

3560-The sugars in the cookie break down, giving the cookie a sweet and nutty flavor (and a darker brown color).

After the mouthwatering scent of the cookies hits your nose, you take the cookies out and let them cool on a cooling rack (making sure to take them off the cookie sheet soon after they have been taken out of the oven; the hot pan may overcook or burn the bottoms of the cookies, as it has retained heat from the oven). And just like that, your cookies have been transformed!

Enjoy munching on this knowledge as you wait for your signature Christmas cookies to cook! Happy baking and Merry Christmas!

The cookies start out…

The cookies begin to spread…

The cookies dry out and solidify…

The finished cookies!

Share →