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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
  • M. Parker H.
    July 16, 2009

    This is excellent! So resourceful.

  • Anonymous
    July 16, 2009

    It’s an interesting idea. I’m just concerned that there are chemicals that are released inside a car when it is very hot. It’s bad enough that we breathe it in when we first get into the car. If those chemicals were to get into the food that’s been cooking in the car… well you get the idea.

  • Champion
    July 17, 2009

    I believe in Malaysia, I dun hv to wait for 2 1/2 hours for the cookies to bake. We have ‘summer’ all year long.
    Champion!!!

  • half baked
    July 17, 2009

    One word. ANTS

  • TheWordWire
    July 17, 2009

    I’m kind of relieved that it took as long as 2.5 hours — I live in Las Vegas and always feel like I’m loading my groceries into a crock pot for the drive home. Never thought to actually use it as an oven — great post!

  • do
    July 19, 2009

    great time for getting salmonella,,,or however you spell it ,,,dont care,,,just dont eat till FULTY baked,,,, sounds like kinda a pardon the pun half nbaked idea,,lol

  • do
    July 19, 2009

    crazy spelling,,,,,,i just ate one of those cookies above, made me nuts

  • Emme
    July 19, 2009

    Added to my RSS, Thanks!

  • Bree bree
    July 21, 2009

    This is THE coolest website i think ive ever been on lol its sooo interesting and its alot of stuff most people wouldnt realize they’d ever be able to do. i cannot wait to try the girl scout cookies and im thinking bout trying to car baked cookies too!

    thank you so much for the Awesome website!!!

  • R.D. cook
    July 22, 2009

    I’d suggest using pasteurized eggs for this, as the dough would be sitting around for a long time at low baking temperature. I WILL try it when it’s too hot to turn on the oven.

  • Krissi Sandvik
    July 23, 2009

    WOW! And if anyone needs a reminder to NOT leave their dog in the car….

  • David
    July 25, 2009

    This can’t be healthy. Think of all the dust and dirt that builds up in a car, even if you take extra caution in cleaning it out. Your car never could heat up enough to kill the bacteria that can/would get on the cookies for those 2 1/2 hours (the cookies need to reach 140 degrees, which is just not possible in a car).

    I can’t believe a cooking website would even think of posting this.

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