The holidays mean many things: among them, cookies. Everybody's baking them, but not everybody understands exactly how these seemingly magical treats become what they are. This animated video from TedEd explains the step-by-step process of how cookie dough transforms into delicious, baked cookies -- the kind we'll all be stuffing our faces with over the next month.
Baking is definitely more of a science than an art -- requiring precise measurements, exact temperatures and specific ingredients -- and this video explains the scientific process of baking cookies in digestible terms. When the dough first starts to cook in the oven, it "bulges outwards, its surface bursting with weird boils," before hardening "into an alien topography," the video's narrator explains. We learn what butter's role is, and why baking soda is important (you can't simply substitute baking powder!).
The video also explains why cookies get that great, golden hue: first, it's the Maillard reaction -- the process of proteins and sugars breaking down and rearranging themselves, which results in the rich colors you find on things like turkey. Next, if the dough reaches the right temperature, a cookie could caramelize -- the process of sugars reacting with sugars between 356 degrees and 390 degrees. (Good thing to know if you like a caramelized flavor but are wondering why you're never getting one in your recipe that calls for an oven at 350 degrees.)
"Bakers are mad scientists," the video says. And "science can be pretty sweet."