The Scientific Reason Why Cookies Taste Better When They're Dunked

Food Science

Girl Scout cookie season just wrapped up, and if you're anything like me you were probably sidetracked at the grocery store by sweet-looking Scouts hawking Thin Mints and Samoas. As a former Girl Scout who once did her fair share of hawking, I have trouble saying no. Plus, I like cookies. Especially when they're dunked in milk.

And, it turns out, there's a reason why cookies taste even better when dunked.

I have fond memories of dipping my cookies in milk, but I also love dunking firm cookies, like shortbreads and Thin Mints, in hot tea in the afternoon.

NPR explored why so many others do the same, asking, "Does immersing a cookie into a warm beverage really make it taste better? And if so, why?"

Cookbook author Heston Blumenthal did a number of scientific experiments and discovered that a chocolate cookie dipped in black tea did actually have more flavor. A science fanatic, Blumenthal worked with a group of food scientists who developed a new machine which would "measure the amount of flavor released in your mouth as aromas when you take a sip of Cabernet, melt a chocolate bar on your tongue, or chew on a cookie."

The result was that cookies released more cookie flavor and aroma when dunked. Why? Methylbutanol, a compound linked to the toasty flavors in baked goods like cookies, is more easily and quickly released into the mouth and nose when the cookie is dampened — especially by a hot beverage, like tea. The conclusion: "dunking is better than not dunking."

What do you think? Is dunking more of a habit, or do you feel it actually makes your cookies more flavorful?

Read the Article: Dunking Science: Do Cookies Really Taste Better Dunked in Tea? by Michaeleen Doucleff

Related: Foods for Dunking: Best Food and Beverage Combos

(Image: Faith Durand)