Why You Should Be Dunking Cookie Dough In Ice Water

While so many of us love to dunk a warm, homemade cookie into a glass of cold milk, the idea of dunking cookie dough into ice water seems like a ridiculous suggestion. As it turns out, an ice water bath is the time-saving trick your baking game has been missing. All you need is a large bowl, zip-top plastic bags, a bunch of ice cubes, and water. Well, and the cookie dough.

If your goal is to bake up a batch of soft and chewy cookies, it is essential to chill the dough before baking. Otherwise, the result can be a thin, flat, sad cookie that just doesn't satisfy in the same way. Baking is both an art and a science, and in this case, a little science can go a long way to making a perfect batch of cookies. The best part is, there's no need for any fancy tools or techniques. Everything you need can already be found in your kitchen. 

Cold cookie dough prevents spreading

Cookie recipes frequently call for chilling the dough in the refrigerator for at least a couple of hours or even up to overnight. This tedious extra step can be a bummer when a cookie craving hits. However, oftentimes, this step in the recipe is necessary for the best results. Butter needs to be left out at room temperature and softened to properly cream with the sugar in order to make the cookie dough. Yet, if this already softened butter goes directly into a hot oven, it will quickly melt causing the dough to spread and resulting in wide, flat cookies.

Chilling the dough allows the softened butter to firm back up again. Then, when the cold cookie dough goes into the oven, the butter melts much more slowly, keeping the shape and texture of the cookie intact. This is the best way to achieve bakery-quality cookies in your own kitchen. But when you're in a time pinch? That's where a bowl of ice comes in handy.

Ice water mimics chilling in the refrigerator

Why a bowl of ice? Well, instead of waiting until the next day to finally bake your cookies, the dough can take an icy plunge to firm up the butter quickly and with minimal effort. All you have to do is transfer the cookie dough to an airtight resealable plastic bag. You can use a gallon-size bag to fit all of the cookie dough at once, or you can divide the dough into smaller quart-size bags as well. Then, you will flatten the cookie dough inside the bag to increase the surface area that will come in contact with the ice-cold water. Just be sure to zip it up nice and tight to make sure water cannot leak inside.

Finally, immerse the plastic bag in the ice water bath for about 20 minutes. This is roughly the same amount of time it will take you to preheat the oven, so there's hardly a moment wasted using this technique. When it's time to bake your cookies, simply break off evenly sized pieces from the chilled bag of dough, and place them on your cookie sheet. The butter in the dough will have firmed up, and you will enjoy decadent, warm homemade cookies in a fraction of the time.