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Car-Baked Chocolate Chip Cookies, step by step

car cookies, pre-baking

Last week, I drew up some guidelines to follow if you wanted to try baking cookies in your car. This past weekend, since the temperatures were well over 100F out here, I decided to give the technique a try myself. I parked my car in full sunlight in the middle of the day, sliced up some cookie dough and started to bake.

I previously noted that most of the reporters and writers who tried this technique used refrigerated, slice-and-bake cookie dough. My guess would be that they chose to use that type of pre-fab dough because they might not be regular bakers and were looking for something that would be quick and easy, since the baking process using a car is not exactly fast. I went with a homemade dough, but decided that I, too, would use a slice-and-bake type of cookie  (the recipe is at the bottom of this article). This meant that my dough could be prepared well in advance and that I could control the thickness of each cookie with precise slicing. Drop cookies work, too, but this seems to be the best way to control spread and ensure even cooking.

car cookies, unsliced

I sliced my dough into 1/4-inch thick slices and placed them on a parchment lined baking sheet. I used potholders to support the baking sheet (and to prevent any damage to my dashboard from the hot metal) and placed both the cookies and an oven thermometer in my car. 30 minutes later, the cookies were beginning to spread slightly.

car cookies, 30 minutes in

The temperature inside my car reached over 180F during baking. Since my car is significantly larger than my oven, I didn’t want to open the car doors at any point during the baking. I recommend that you remove anything you think you’ll need before you begin. Here are the cookies after about 1 hour:

car cookies, halfway done

It took about 2 1/2 hours for the cookies to bake completely. I ended up opening the car door shortly before the end of the baking period to check for doneness. This check has to be done manually, as there are no color indicators (such as brownness) to judge by because the sugar in the car cookies does not caramelize and brown like that of oven-baked cookies. So, I gently pressed the edges of the cookies to feel that they were firm and even more gently touched the center of one of the cookies to see that it held together and was not gooey (the center of the cookie should not be entirely firm, unless you are shooting for a crispy cookie). Finally, I slid one of the cookies around on the parchment paper – a good test for this type of baking because a baked cookie will release easily from the paper, while an unbaked cookie will stick in place. If your cookies are not done, add more baking time in 15 or 30 minute increments, as opposed to the 30 second or 1 minute increments you might add to an oven-baked cookie.

car cookies, just about done

The finished cookies were very light in color, but smelled and tasted delicious. They were slightly crisp at the edges and chewy in the center. I think that they were best hot out of the car, and believe that my tasters did, too, since the whole batch was gone in under 5 minutes. My only regret is that I didn’t bake more at one time, since it’s a time-consuming process and not something I’m up for every day.

car cookies, finished and ready to eat
Car-Baked Chocolate Chip Cookies
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup butter, soft
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup sugar
1 large egg
2/3 cup mini chocolate chips

In a small bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
In a large bowl, cream together butter and sugars. Beat in egg, followed by flour mixture and chocolate chips.
Place dough on a large sheet of wax paper and roll into a log approximately 11-inches long by 2.5-inches wide. Freeze for 2-3 hours, or overnight.
When ready to bake, park your car in the sun on a 100F+ day. Slice cookies into 1/4-inch thick slices and place on parchment-lined baking sheet. Place baking sheet on car dashboard (with protective towel underneath) and bake for 2 1/2-3 hours, until done.
If you have a big dashboard (or a friend with another car), you can do two batches at once, otherwise you can save half of the dough for another day.
Makes about 2 1/2 dozen cookies.

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239 Comments
  • Carol Penn-Romine
    December 6, 2010

    I did the same thing a couple of years ago, but made meringues. Here’s how it all went down:
    http://hungrypassport.blogspot.com/2008/06/solar-powered-oven-courtesy-of-honda.html

    Nice to know there’s SOMETHING we can do with that excessive heat. Cheers! Carol

  • Melanie
    April 7, 2011

    What a great way to have fresh cookies at work or while camping.

  • Linda Estey
    April 7, 2011

    Can’t wait to try this this summer. Home made cookies without turning on the oven. Love that!

  • Susie
    July 18, 2011

    Fun! With this heat wave we have now, I don’t think I would have any problem making those in my car. I think the old saying now should be “hot enough to bake cookies in my car” instead of “hot enough to fry an egg on the sidewalk”!

  • Olivia
    July 23, 2011

    So cool! You know what this means, right? The smell of freshly-baked cookies in your car–please tell us how long this scent lasts!!!

  • Carissa
    July 23, 2011

    This is genius! Fantastic idea! I bet these make your car smell fantastic as well.

  • Kyle
    August 14, 2011

    So this is what you should do when trying to sell a used car? Who wouldn’t want to buy the car that smelled like fresh-baked cookies?!

  • SpaceGhost2K
    August 14, 2011

    What happens if you leave them in for a full 8.5 hours while you’re at work? I want to set them up when I go to work, and get off work to find edible cookies in my car. Will they dry out, be rock hard, etc, etc?

  • louise
    August 14, 2011

    Perhaps adding a bit of cocoa to the dough would give them more of an appearance of an oven-baked chocolate chip cookie. I knew a couple who would dehydrate wild mushrooms on cookie trays in their car.

  • June
    August 29, 2011

    I made sun-dried tomatoes in my car a couple years ago when we had a heat wave and a bumper tomato crop. I am trying out this cookie recipe this week! I love the idea of adding cocoa to the dough so that folks won’t be put-off by the light color.

  • mike
    July 16, 2012

    I have a Jewish friend of mine who made some car baked matzo bread last summer.He spread the mixture onto a cookie sheet,and let the sun do the rest. It took the better part of the afternoon,but it turned out very well.

  • Jamie
    August 20, 2012

    This is a great idea!!! I would use pre-made cookie dough,then switch to dough that I make. I often crave for sweets in the car,so it wouldn’t be a problem to try this! Only in the summer though. For once,we’re lucky to have hot weather here.

  • Treay Cohen.
    November 16, 2012

    What a wonderful idea! I’ve heard of making fruit leather like this, but never gave biscuits a thought. Love the idea of making Matzo in the car. I usually stash all my leavening in there each April to get it out of the house!

  • Gwendolyn
    September 3, 2013

    Hi Nicole, I was just wondering what if you’ll cook the cookies for 3hours? Is it possible for the cookies to turn brown color? I love your brilliant idea and I was planning on trying this process with my family. Thank you.

  • Nicole
    September 3, 2013

    Gwendolyn – Browning is a result of the Maillard reaction, and your car is unlikely to get hot enough to reach a temperature at which this would occur, so these cookies will always be a little bit paler than over-baked cookies.

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