Sunday, August 14, 2011

You Should Have Paid More Attention In Science Class…

Don’t you hate rushing around at the last minute trying to prepare everything from decorations, seating arrangements, to even the preparation of food for a party or event?  Often times this might be due to your procrastination, but other times, like when making cookies, you have to wait until the last minute because if you don’t your cookies will turn into objects fit more for construction rather than consumption. 

Here are a few of my previous scenarios:
    1. I stay up WAY too late the night before to bake the scrumptious cookies rather than getting my well deserved (and sometimes needed) 8 hours of beauty sleep.  Then because I’m sooo tired, I end up accidently leave the cookies in the oven a tad too long, creating hockey pucks rather than cookies.  
    2. I have tried to fit in a special trip to the store (usually bumping any of my other planning responsibilities back) to pick up freshly made store bought cookies.  Even if I put them on my own platter, they still will never taste as good as my mom’s recipe (and my guests notice). 
However, There is one sure fire way to keep cookies soft and moist (and perhaps bring some back to life) that works like a charm every time!  All you have to do it put a fresh piece of bread in the cookie container.  Seems too easy… right?  Nope, it is just that easy!  And it’s not magic, its SCIENCE!

When any baked goods sits (even in a closed container, the water in the cookies will evaporate making the baked good become dry and hard.  So, why when I put bread with my cookies, the bread becomes hard and not the cookies?   This is due to Hygroscopy.  I know, it sounds scary, but all hygroscopy means is that a substance can change its properties with the absorption of water (for further understanding, look at Wikipedia).

 Both the cookies’ and the bread’s water evaporates, but due to the sugar in the cookies (sugar being hydroscopic), they are able to absorb the water that the bread’s water is evaporating, making them soft again.  The bread does not have sugar, so it cannot do this.

 You can also use this trick with any “sugary” item, such as “unclumping” brown sugar or softening stale marshmallows (or even for science projects with kids!)

Now if I want make a batch of my homemade chocolate chip cookies for an event, I don’t have to wait until the last moment!  Tricks such as these make any hostess be able to spread the stresses of party preparation over a couple days rather than a couple hours.

Do you have any other ways to keep from slaving in the kitchen the night before, or a way to keep your store bought gems fresh until the day of an event?  Please share!

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