A massive heat dome is going to settle over much of the country this week, which means your car is likely going to feel like an oven every time you get into it. Instead of complaining about sticking to your seats, stick some dough on your dashboard and bake some cookies. Here’s how to do it.
For baking cookies in your car, it’s best to use pre-made cookie dough, especially one without eggs or that uses pasteurized egg whites only. You’ll also need parchment paper, a cookie sheet, pot holder, a spatula and a towel. It’s also important to have a thermometer that is easily visible and that can read temperatures over 150 degrees Fahrenheit. You’ll also need a car and a sunny parking spot. Baking cookies in your car will only work if the outside temperature is over 95 degrees.
It’s best to do your car cookie baking during the peak heat of the day (between 1 and 5 p.m.). Set the car out in a bright spot and let it sit for at least 15 minutes to preheat. If your vehicle has a sunroof, open the sunroof shade, but not the actual sunroof. Opening the sunshade but not the roof exposes more glass, which increases the greenhouse effect that’s heating your car and baking your cookies. Make sure all windows are up. Remove any air fresheners or fast food bags that could interfere with the flavor. Clean the dashboard of dirt or debris.
Roll the cookie dough into one-inch balls, flatten them slightly and put them on a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper or covered with non-stick cooking spray. Put the baking sheet on the dashboard. You’ll also want to place a towel underneath the baking sheet -- a hot metal baking sheet could leave a scorch mark on your dash, similar to how a hot pan could leave a mark on your kitchen table. Place the thermometer next to the baking sheet, facing outward, so you can easily see the temperature. While it normally takes 10 to 12 minutes to make cookies in an oven, it can take up to five hours using the car method. Low and slow is the key here.
For the cookies to bake, the inside of your vehicle must get hotter than 165 degrees. Monitor the cookies, leaving the car unopened and the cookies undisturbed for at least two hours, while checking the thermometer and the cookies every half hour or so. If the car’s internal temperature never reaches 160 degrees, the cookies won’t bake and you’ll end up with warmed, partially cooked cookie dough.
After three hours (maybe more), the cookies should be firm enough to remove from the cookie sheet with a spatula. Depending on the type of car, and the outside air temperature, it can take up to five hours to fully bake the cookies. If they easily and firmly pull off the parchment paper or tray and aren’t too gooey, then you’re ready to remove the cookie sheet. Make sure you use a potholder, as the cookie sheet will be very hot to touch. Because the temperature won’t get as hot as a conventional oven, the cookies won’t brown as they do in the oven. That’s because the sugars in the dough won’t caramelize at the lower baking temperature, so expect your car cookies to be lighter, with less crispy edges, than cookies baked in an oven.
Hopefully it goes without saying, but don’t sit in the car with the cookies as they bake. Interior temperatures of a car can surpass 200 degrees on hot days, so you, and any children or pets you have with you, should wait for the cookies to bake outside of the car, preferably somewhere with air conditioning. Also note that at temperatures between 160 and 170 degrees in the car, the cookies may bake, but that eggs, which can contain salmonella, won’t cook thoroughly. Consuming raw eggs can be unhealthy – so unless you want to risk a gastrointestinal event, trash any undercooked dough.