Caramel Cookies and a Chemistry Lesson

I’d like to think of myself as good cook.  I can follow a recipe, make substitutions if need be, and add ingredients “to taste.”  But when it comes to baking….well that is a whole other story.  I have to confess that my baking skills do not extend past a Duncan Hines box cake or break-and-bake cookies.  (shameful, I know)

But last night, I got inspired (by Pintrest).  I decided I was ready to put on my big girl apron and bake these cookies from scratch.  This is what I was trying to bake:



Salted Caramel Chocolate Chip Cookies.  MMMMM.

Don’t they look great?!  You can find the recipe here:

These are mine:


My cookies turned out…ok.  They were very fluffy and cake, almost like a flat cupcake.  Tyler and Trevor were over to try them.  Their reaction was “Well, they taste good, but why do they feel like that?!”  I racked my brain to figure out what had gone wrong.  The only thing I’d done differently was substitute baking soda for baking powder.  So, being the perfectionist and nerd I am, I googled the difference.

Both baking soda and baking powder produce carbon dioxide in baked goods, causing them to rise.  The difference is that baking soda is pure sodium bicarbonate, and will react when it meets acidic ingredients.  Baking powder is sodium bicarbonate that already has the acidifying agent in it.  Which one is used in a recipe is determined by the other ingredients in the recipe.  So basically, I gave my cookies a double shot of carbon dioxide, making them cake-like.

Lesson learned:  Baking is more intense than cooking.  Follow the recipe, be precise about your measurements, and don’t make substitutions.

Happy Hump Day!


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