Back when our grandmothers started baking cookies, they probably weren't reading articles about the gluten content of cake flour versus all-purpose, or the melting points of butter and shortening. Baking is chemistry, it's true — but it's also more than that, as writer Deborah Blum realized when she set out to recreate her grandmother's chocolate chip cookies.
Blum consulted with biochemist and cookbook author Shirley Corriher, who gave her some tips on the science of chocolate chip cookies: use butter for flatter, crisper cookies and a high-protein flour for chewier cookies. And for better flavor, let the dough rest in the refrigerator for 24 hours.
But while experimenting with different cookie recipes, Blum found that none came close to her (admittedly unreliable) memory of her grandmother's perfect cookies. So she abandoned the advice and went her own way, finally settling on a recipe that is quite simple and just right.
But it doesn't really matter if I've recreated the cookie chemistry of my childhood. I've made a memory for my own child and standing by a hot oven, breathing the buttery chocolate air of my own making, that feels exactly right to me.
• Read more & get the recipe: Comfort (Food) Chemistry at Wired
Do you find that you abandon your usual instincts when making treasured family recipes? Or do you integrate modern-day tricks into old-fashioned recipes?
(Image: Emma Christensen)