Today is about more of a process or a technique than any actual recipe. For reference, the actual cookie recipe I used was blogged here. This post, however, is about what happens after you make the dough but before you bake the cookies. Sometimes you’ll hear about refrigerating dough overnight for better cookies. Lifehacker, for example, has an article about it. However, I’m an impatient man. I don’t know about you, but when I bake cookies, I want them NOW, not tomorrow sometime. So how do you get that amazing left-overnight taste and texture without waiting? You vacuum seal the dough!
I know it sounds weird. The idea originated with Aki Kamozawa of the cookbook Ideas in Food in an essay in The Kitchen as Laboratory, which I’ve found fascinating reading lately. In it, he says he discovered the concept by vacuum sealing pasta dough for use the next day, and noticed it immediately changed texture and color. The pressure had caused the fats in the dough to hydrate the starches much faster than they otherwise would have. So he applied the concept to cookies, ran some tests, and the idea worked.
Now, I trust Aki’s research. He did, after all, introduce me to what my wife calls Candy Salmon, her favorite dish that I cook. But I also had to test it out for myself. So I had some people over for dinner, mixed up a batch of cookies, and vacuum sealed half of it. I used a chamber vacuum sealer, but you can just as easily use a FoodSaver or whatever vacuum sealing system you have at home.
I then baked the vacuum compressed dough side by side with normal cookie dough.
The resulting cookies that had been vacuum sealed, which are on the left, were noticeably darker and very slightly more compact.
A taste test (though admittedly not a blind one, we weren’t being THAT scientific) had everyone agreeing that the vacuum sealed cookies had richer, deeper flavor. The unsealed cookies tasted more strongly of brown sugar through the whole taste, whereas the vacuumed cookies had finishing brown sugar flavor, with more rich buttery flavor to start. Everyone agreed that the vacuum sealed cookies were noticeably superior. So the next time you think of baking cookies, try vacuum sealing them before baking them. You’ll get richer, deeper flavor, and impress your friends and family with a fancy new technique!