Ever wonder what parchment paper really does for your homemade cookies?  I did and still do, really.  A quick search told me roughly that it keeps your cookies from sticking to the baking sheet thus eliminating the need for extra grease.  Is that it?  Last week, we put that query to the test.

Trying to minimize the variables I went to my store of pre-made cookie dough balls in the freezer.  (Side bar, although I think I’ve said this before: Yes, I make cookie dough and freeze most of it.  It is a pretty nice treat to fresh bake cookies through out the month and is helpful at maintaining moderation.  I have a sneaking suspicion that the quantity decreases without me baking leading me to conclude that either Ryan has taken up the Dan S. mantra, “She may freeze the cookie dough, but it won’t keep me out of it.” or we have a cookie theif in the home.)

I baked four cookies on an ungreased, unlined baking sheet for a prescribed time.  Let the baking sheet cool and then baked four more cookies on a sheet lined with parchment paper.  See the results yourself:

The four on the left are parchment paper cookies.  They have spread out more and although the picture doesn’t do it justice, they came out more golden.  Additionally:

(Again, parchment on the left.)  The parchment cookies were flatter.  Both sets were frozen from the start, no change was made to the oven temperature, they were both cooked the same amount of time, and neither set stuck to anything.

Letting them cool to room temperature before eating we found the taste test between them to be slightly different.  The parchment cookies came out more cake-like and just this side of better textured.  Worth the extra cost, resources and effort?  Maybe but maybe not.  Preferable, yes, but let’s face it, a good cookie is a good cookie and who the heck is going say no to a cookie?

My guess is that the parchment paper helps distribute heat in the sense that air sheets allow for better flow underneath the cookies.  The parchment cookies were slightly less dark on the undersides. And, I’m thinking they actually absorb some of the extra grease in these ever-so-tasty-but-ever-so-buttery cookies.

Anyone else out there have thoughts on this?