Counting on Cookies

Cookie recipes never seem to make as many cookies the recipe claims, so how big (or small, rather) must a cookie be in order to get the recipe-expected number of cookies?

After making quarantine cookies the other week and wondering how the blazes Betty Crocker thought the recipe could result in 48 to 60 cookies, we decided to see what would happen if we forced a batch to create the expected number cookies by weighing it all out. To the kitchen! Get the scale!

Supplies:

  • ingredients to make your favorite cookies
  • favorite equipment for making cookies
  • high precision digital scale

Steps

Step 1: Make a batch of your favorite cookie (or “cooky”) dough.

We used the “Best cooky of 1935-1940” (chocolate chip cookies) in “Betty Crocker’s Cooky Book”

Step 2: Weigh the full batch of resulting dough.

Our batch of dough was 789.0g.

Step 3: Divide by the number of cookies the recipe claims it makes.

  • Since Betty Crocker gave a range, we used the midpoint of that (4.5 dozen or 54 cookies). This will be the “proper” cookie size. In our case, 789.0g / 54 cookies = 14.6g/cookie.

Step 4: Weigh out the cookie dough such that each proto-cookie is close to the computed proper size.

Our first batch had cookie dough spheres ranging between 14.3-14.9g each.

Step 5: Bake as directed (ours went for 8 minutes at 375°F).

With the proper amount of dough, we got 20 cookies on the pan and they ended up 2″ wide, which was what the recipe said to expect.

Step 6: Repeat until done.

  • Since we didn’t really have the patience to weigh all the dough into individual cookies, and we wanted something to compare against, we did the second round with the #40 disher we normally use (baked for 9 minutes at the same 375°F). 

Using a #40 disher, we got 16 cookies onto the pan. They ended up about 2.25″ wide.

Observations

The “proper” amount of dough per cookie was 14.6 grams, based on getting 54 cookies from the amount of dough we had. Measuring out each cookie was rather tedious, so one obvious question is: what would provide approximately the correct amount of dough?

The instructions in the recipe claimed to “drop rounded teaspoonfuls of dough”, however, in testing, the amount of dough in a rounded teaspoon, dining spoons, or tablespoons, the results didn’t match what we needed.

 

dough (g)

total cookies

teaspoon

7.5

105

ideal

14.6

54

dining spoon

19.5

40

tablespoon

20

39

#40 disher

30

26

Using (non-measuring) spoons resulted in proto-cookies that were 19.5g, which was bigger than we were looking for.

A rounded teaspoon of dough was too small at 7.5g (or 105 tiny cookies per batch) but the dining spoons and tablespoon were too big, providing closer to 20 grams of dough each (or 40 cookies per batch). 

Dishers are very convenient, but the #40 disher (which ours claims is 0.75 oz) we have is significantly larger than what the recipe calls for. After doing the first pan of individually weighed cookies, we had 494.7g of dough left. Using the #40 disher, we got 16 full scoops with 17g left over (which I ate like a food-safety oblivious heathen), meaning each scoop was about 30g of dough. 

Ideally, a disher with half the volume of what we have would be the best match the recipe to end up with the specified number of cookies. But as Cook’s Illustrated points out, the sizing on scoops can be confusing and inconsistent, so finding a scoop with a specific volume can be tricky. Of course, that’s assuming we want small cookies =)

Interestingly, as this recipe does not have much “spread” during baking, using the disher results in cookies that are really close to 2″ wide, which is what the recipe says to expect. However, after weighing things out we now know that they are still twice the cookie Betty Crocker was intending, which is why we ended up with far fewer overall cookies than expected!

The cookie on the left was made with the computed “proper” amount of dough. Cookie on the right was made with a #40 (3/4 oz) disher. Despite being twice the mass, the cookies made with the disher were not that much wider than the “proper” cookies and only needed one extra minute of bake time.

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