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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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  • Joanna
    September 4, 2007

    I ought to try this some day while at work, since there’s not an oven at the office, My coworkers would LOVE hot, fresh-baked cookies. As it is, they always get the leftovers from the day before.

  • Jill - GlossyVeneer
    September 4, 2007

    What a fun experiment. I should try that next July, when the temperatures here in Las Vegas regularly reach 115+. Right now it’s just hovering around 105, plenty hot I’m sure. 🙂

  • Mallow
    September 4, 2007

    This cracked me up! I doubt I could have pulled it off here in Seattle this “summer”, but I keep thinking camping trip cookies…

  • brilynn
    September 4, 2007

    That’s awesome!
    But are you ever going to get the smell of baking cookies out of your car? (Not that that’s a bad thing…)

  • Lydia
    September 4, 2007

    I remember reading a recipe once for cooking bluefish on your car engine, while you were driving somewhere! This kind of reminds me of that recipe.

  • deb
    September 4, 2007

    This is brilliant! I can only imagine the to-die-for aroma in your car this week. I would crave cookies constantly.

  • yumsugar
    September 4, 2007

    This is fantastic, I have a feeling it doesn’t get hot enough here, but I really want to try it!

  • anna
    September 4, 2007

    Mmh cookies.. I’d say it will be worth making sun tea too while baking the cookies. There should be enough space on the dashboard for a few teas too 🙂

  • Ev
    September 4, 2007

    There was a cookbook out a few years ago called Manifold Destiny. Cook food on your car engine as you drive along!

    Check out the key words “solar cooking” on your favorite search engine. Solar ovens are easy to make or buy. Great for summer cooking to keep the heat out of your house.

  • Dewi
    September 4, 2007

    I would love to do this but I fear it would add one more temptation for people to break into my car !

  • Nicole J. LeBoeuf-Little
    September 4, 2007

    More people should know about this. Not only would it promote sharing fresh-baked cookies around the office after lunch, but I think it really gets the point across about how dangerous it is to leave children and pets in the car during the day. Seriously. I think if more people knew they could use their cars as a slow-cook oven, and did so, they’d be muuuuch less inclined to leave their toddlers in there during a grocery run.

  • Katie
    September 4, 2007

    Wow. I read your previous post about car baked cookies with interest and a bit of sceptism but I pleased you tried it out yourself. What a conversation point they would be if you took them to a party! Great looking cookies.

  • Smerky
    September 5, 2007

    Car cookies…now there’s an idea! They actually look halfway decent! Too bad the weather is getting cool and I can no longer bake them. Perhaps next year. You have a wonderful blog, by the way.

  • olive
    September 6, 2007

    i will definitely try this. i live with three seasons out here…hot, hotter, hottest.

  • Josh D.
    September 7, 2007

    I could see this as a side industry here in Phoenix, AZ: Sell pre-made “take and bake (on the way!)” cookie kits!

  • Hydroponics
    September 15, 2007

    I was searching for new garden products and found this site at homegrown-hydroponics.com.
    What do you think?

  • JC
    October 3, 2007

    Keep up the great work!

  • Cheryl
    October 11, 2007

    Here’s my suggestion.

    Try baking the cookies on nonstick, dark coated cookie sheets.
    Don’t use any parchment, foil, or wax paper at all.

  • nanio
    October 25, 2007

    I don’t want the nasty funk of my car anywhere near uncooked food. Or cooked food for that matter.

    I should probably go wash the car.

  • Anonymous
    November 11, 2007

    this is a really creative idea, i used for my science fair project this year! Thanks for the idea! 🙂

  • Kevin
    November 14, 2007

    Okay, I’m a tad late to this baking party BUT I LOOVVVEEEEEE THIS! I’m kinda sad that I found this late because I’d have been trying this too. I would love to pull up to a In N Out drive through and offer the nice window folk a cookie “hot off the dashboard!”

    Okay, I have to ask, “Is that a leopard wheel cover?” I think I love you.

  • Lorraine
    November 30, 2007

    That was a very unique way of baking !

  • Buffalo Bob
    May 7, 2008


  • Gumby
    May 26, 2008

    Egg whites do not begin to coagulate (cook) until they reach about 140F and egg yolks do not begin to coagulate until they reach about 150F. For both, the temperature must be raised another 10F before they can be considered cooked. Both fats and sugar retard the coagulation of the egg so that they don’t begin to coagulate until about 180F. The foregoing can be found at Baking911, America’s Test Kitchen and the USDA/FSIS. It seems that your cookies may be dehydrating rather than actually baking.

  • marleny
    June 3, 2008

    dats kool

  • yummy-yum-yum
    June 3, 2008

    omg, that is so kool i totally want 2 try this 1 day,
    they look so good in da pictures too, they make my mouth water,lol

  • cookie lover
    June 3, 2008

    yummy, i love cookies, i looooooooooooooooooooooooovvvvveeeeeeeee coookiiiesssss!!!!!!!!!!

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