A Mean Chocolate Chip Cookie

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Food writer Meg Hourihan went on a quest for the best chocolate chip cookie recipe, and ended up with 26 recipes after just 24 hours. Instead of baking all 26 recipes separately, Hourihan simply averaged them for her mean chocolate chip cookie recipe (average = arithmetic mean, get it?). More details:

I converted all the measurements to base 10 so I could enter decimals into my spreadsheet, e.g. 6 tablespoons of butter equals .75 sticks of butter. But it wasn't enough to just average ingredients. I also needed to account for differences in the directions. Some recipes called for cold butter, others for melted. So I averaged technique as well, taking into account various oven temperatures and recommended dough chilling times.

If you've ever baked, you know how precise baking needs to be. The idea of averaging a recipe struck me as both amusing and insane, and I was pretty sure the resulting cookies would be terrible. After all my calculations, I baked a batch. I had to make a few tweaks, e.g. my oven didn't have a setting for 354.17°F so I used 355°F. But I stayed true to the math as much as possible. I didn't check on how the cookies were doing, but simply baked them for 13.04 minutes. (I got that .04 by hesitating just a moment before opening the door after my timer went off!) And what do you know?

Check out Hourihan's recipe (along with the full story of its creation and ultimate success), then check out Megnut, her fun food blog.

So, cooks: have you ever tried combining recipes like this? I'm thinking about doing this with a variety of split-pea soup recipes....

(Via Kottke.org.)

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January 11, 2008 - 2:01am
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