Fancy silpat, traditional parchment paper, or plain baking sheet? We experiment with cookies

2012-08-08 by . 7 comments

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Chocolate chip cookies

The accepted wisdom is that cookies baked directly on something other than an ungreased baking sheet will burn less. I tend to use parchment paper for my baking, but I wanted to test how much it really matters. In addition to the bare cookie sheet, I had parchment paper and a silicone baking mat, so I got to making the cookies.

A plain cookie sheetA cookie sheet with a sheet of parchment paper on itA silpat brand silicone baking sheet

Recipe

I put a rack in the middle of the oven and preheated it to 350°F (≈180°C).

I stirred these:
11¼ oz all-purpose flour 320 g
1 tsp baking soda 4.6 g
1 tsp salt 6 g
and then creamed these in my stand mixer bowl (the main work bowl):
½ cup unsalted butter, at room temperature 115 g
½ cup shortening 100 g
¾ cup granulated sugar ≈150 g
¾ cup packed brown sugar ≈165 g
1 tsp vanilla extract 4.3 g
I also prepped:
2 large eggs
12 oz semi-sweet chocolate chips 340 g

I beat the eggs into the creamed mixture in the work bowl, then stirred in the flour mixture in 3 batches, and finally stirred in the chocolate chips.

I used a disher scoop to drop about a tablespoon of dough onto each baking sheet preparation: parchment paper, silicone mat, and bare baking sheet. I baked each sheet for 10 minutes, and cooled the cookies on cooling racks once the cookies were set.

To prevent the dough from warming up on the counter and confusing the results, I put the cookie dough in the refrigerator between rounds of baking. (I increased the baking time because of the chilled dough; normally I would only bake the cookies for 9 minutes.)

Results

I expected a bigger difference between these 3 methods. The silicone mat browned the cookies a bit less than the other methods – so it can provide a little insurance if you’re afraid of burnt cookies.

Cookies baked on baking sheet

From left to right: baking sheet, silpat, parchment paper

 

I’m going to stick with parchment paper, because it offers one big advantage over the bare sheet and silicone mat:

Kitchen sink with silpat and baking sheet in it. No clean up.

7 Comments

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  • Interesting. I always use parchment paper when making cookies, but I do it to decrease clean-up (even “nonstick” baking sheets always seem to cement cookies onto them). I had never considered whether it had a measurable effect on how brown the cookies got on the bottom. Good post!

  • Andrew says:

    I like it! I usually use an ungreased cookie sheet on a top rack to keep them a little further away from the heating element so that they cook a little more evenly.

  • Nicole says:

    I still go for Silpat, it’s very easy to clean and saves money from wasteful parchment paper that is typically used once and rarely recycled. :)

    • katiek says:

      I hear you about the consumable parchment paper. But I wonder how much soap / water is used in the washing of more dishes?

  • Mandisa says:

    Silicone doesn’t seem to give the same carmelization as metal/parchment. For some things (pastry/tart shells) that’s okay, for others (cookies), it’s a deal-breaker.

    Parchment can handle 2-3 trips into the oven, depending on the butter content of your dough/batter – I find it’s ideal for cookies, since you’re doing multiple back-to-back batches anyway. I’ll use a bit to line the bottoms of cake pans for layer cake as well, since it ensures easy bottom removal (as opposed to sheet cake, when I just serve directly from the cake pan).

    Also, parchment also is sometimes a better alternative to aluminum foil in certain cases (frozen-to-oven commercial foods, fish, and other foods that are metal-reactive), so I like to have it around.

  • soozie says:

    I also prefer parchment paper. When baking is completed, it goes directly into my composter, along with egg shells, etc….

  • Joni says:

    I’m a parchment girl. Can’t bake without it anymore. :-)

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