Whisk and wait method with butter/sugar? America's Test Kitchen/Cook's Illustrated
Someone recently told me about a “whisk and wait” method they saw on ATK for a chocolate chip cookie recipe. I searched online and see that they have you (I’m paraphrasing here but you get the gist) melt butter, whisk in your eggs and sugar, then wait a few minutes, then whisk again like mad for 30 seconds, then wait a few minutes…repeat this a couple times. Various food bloggers allude to the fact that ATK/CI says this improves the flavor because the sugar dissolves better than just dumping it in. I am looking for more info here…how does it improve the flavor? What is the science behind this? I usually like ATK for little tricks like this but I can’t find much info on this idea to decide if I want to bother adopting this method. Would this be true for all recipes using melted butter/sugar? For example, let’s say blondies, cookies, or any other recipe that uses melted, not creamed, butter?
I Googled some more and finally found the explanation I was looking for, which I am posting here in case someone in the future comes across this post while searching. The “whisk and wait” came out of ATK’s “Perfect Chocolate Chip Cookie” recipe. To paraphrase to avoid copyright infringement, their experiment was to make a batch of cookies as normal (mix everything, put on cookie sheet, then into the oven). The second batch rested for 10 minutes with occasional whisking after they combined the sugar with the liquids (brown butter, vanilla, salt, eggs). The result was a richer, deeper flavor. Sugar that is dissolved in the liquids prior to baking breaks down quicker from crystalline sucrose into fructose and glucose, which for new flavor compounds and caramelize at a lower temperature. They have you whisk the liquids for 30 seconds, let stand for 3 minutes, then whisk for another 30 seconds and repeat 2 more times of whisking/resting.
I don't know *why* it makes a difference, but I can tell you that cookies where I've whisked, waited, whisked, waited, and whisked again turn out better than cookies where I haven't, even considering that everything else was identical. This is how I make chocolate chip cookies now, and I use the waiting time to measure out all the dry ingredients and prep my cookie sheets.
I agree ricepad, I am now a believer! I made two batches of brown butter blondies tonight and WOW. The flavor was much more pronounced, that butterscotch flavor was IN MY FACE instead of a background note and I mean that in the best way possible! I will definitely be using this method from here on out!