[Ben Krasnow] Did It All For The (Perfect) Cookie

ben-cookie

[Ben Krasnow] is on a mission. He’s looking for the perfect chocolate chip cookie. To aid him in this noble endeavor, he’s created the cookie perfection machine. From cleaning with plasma, to a DIY CT scanner, to ruby lasers, to LED contact lenses, [Ben] has to be one of the most prolific and versatile hackers out there today. What better way to relax after a hard day of hacking than to enjoy a glass of milk and a perfect chocolate chip cookie?

This is actually an update to the machine we first saw back in 2012. [Ben] has loaded his machine up with ingredients, and has everything under computer control. The machine will now dispense the exact amount of ingredients specified by the computer, measured by a scale. Everything happens one cookie at a time. The only downside is that the machine doesn’t have a mixer yet. [Ben] has to mix a single cookie’s worth of dough for every data point. His experiments have returned some surprising results. Too little flour actually results in a crisper cookie, as the wetter dough spreads out to a thinner layer. [Ben] also found that adding extra brown sugar also doesn’t result in a more chewy cookie. Even though he’s still in the early experimentation phases, [Ben] mentions that since it’s hard to make a bad chocolate cookie, even his failures taste pretty good.

Thanks [Erwin]

Comments

  1. JC says:
  2. Joseph says:

    I don’t suppose you could be convinced to take on snickerdoodles next ? :)

  3. Merrick says:

    The book “CookWise” by Shirley Corriher has a good section on cookies on their ingredients that may reduce the need for experimentation.

  4. Stop what your doing and subscribe to his youtube thing. I guarantee he knows more then you do. Plus, he’s an awesome teacher to boot.

    http://www.youtube.com/user/bkraz333?feature=watch

    .

    • GrammarNazi says:

      Than is a conjunction used in comparisons, for example “Tom is smarter than Bill.”

      • voxnulla says:

        You can only fault him in punctuation really.
        Consider you current knowledge and subsequently consider this after you have subscribed to said channel. It is guaranteed that he knows more, which is a state which will be altered after subscribing.
        Hence, at first he knows more, but then you do!

        • Mental2k says:

          Quite possibly the best grammar nazi put down I’ve ever seen. You’ve made the world a better place today.

        • Brian says:

          Actually you don’t even need to fault him for that, I think. In “If…then…” sentences, you only need a comma after the “If” clause when you omit “then.” I feel like the sentence he wrote makes sense if you’re trying to read it the way you suggested.

  5. John Smith says:

    I always like to describe Ben Krasnow to people as “that one real-life mad scientist.” The guy did a CT scan of his christmas turkey, after all.

  6. yetihehe says:

    He could use genetic algorithms to breed perfect cookies ;).

  7. DeKay says:

    Kenji at SeriousEats is The Man, and his Food Lab articles are phenomenal. He did a writeup on chocolate chip cookies just a short while ago. Method is as important as ingredients.

    http://sweets.seriouseats.com/2013/12/the-food-lab-the-best-chocolate-chip-cookies.html?ref=pop_serious_eats

  8. D says:

    Hate to rain on Ben’s parade but the order, temp, timing and handling of the added ingredients is very important. My wife found the best recipe to date it had two interesting steps. When mixing the room temp egg and sugar together you mix wwwaayyy longer than normal almost making a whip out of it and for a color and deeper flavor you leave the cookie dough in the fridge for 24 to 48hrs before baking. So best way to get delicious zero work cookies…obtain wife.

    • Mywifemakesallthecookies says:

      As a Chef I conquer with D. There are more steps to this “problem” than just add and mix. To really get this he would need to automate every process, and then step by step change one thing. Ingredient temperature, ingredient combination ( duration of mixing and in what order) and finally what temperature the oven is set. And it doesn’t even end there. Convection or non-convection, steam oven? What is the cooking surface? insulated?

      • Adam Gershon says:

        ^^^ This is what I came in here to say. Whipping the butter and sugar together is a critical step. Ingredient temperature and overall combination sequence and technique are key. Baking is more like chemistry than other types of cooking.

  9. syntroniks says:

    Someone needs to say Fred Durst in these comments

  10. Fry-kun says:

    Another 2-part guide (old style, no automation) here: http://www.handletheheat.com/2013/07/the-ultimate-guide-to-chocolate-chip-cookies.html
    And as mentioned by others, seemingly innocuous things like amount of mixing can make a big difference

  11. ka1axy says:

    I want a machine that takes ingredient cartridges as input and has a Big Red Button that’s marked “Cookie!”.

    Pushing this button would result in much clanking and whirring, after which, a warm, freshly baked, chocolate chip cookie would be delivered down a chute onto my plate.

    I suspect this is Ben’s goal as well. Good on him!

  12. Ross M. says:

    Here’s a secret to moist, delicious cookies. Take a crappy, too crisp, factory-made cookie and microwave it for several seconds. Done.

    • tekkieneet says:

      If you like the opposite, put the cookies in the fridge (or under some
      ice cream) and they turn hard and crunchy. :)

      There are too many variables including mixing, humidity and temperature
      profile that this is only a subset for testing. I suspect that the
      corner cases should be tested first to reduce the variables. Once that’s
      done, sensitivity analysis should be done to figure out how much
      derivation can be made without affecting the taste too much. Take the
      mean of that and you’ve got a robust recipe.

  13. Kent says:

    Here is my favorite favorite chocolate chip cookie recipe. It does require you to refrigerate the dough for 24-36hours and also have bread and cake flour handy. But the cookies are amazing. http://neatandsweetrecipes.com/r/chocolate_chip_cookies

  14. AKA the A says:

    Needs an open oven with a linked belt, like the professional-grade reflow ovens :D

  15. KleenexCommando says:

    There is being smart, being a hacker, being a smart hacker, and being well funded or having money to throw around and into your hacks and there is having enough time. AND then there is being a smart hacker with money to throw around with enough time to do it all in. I’d reckon this guy fits the last description. I have a gazillion ideas for cool stuff, but my projects lack funds and time. Yes, I could scrounge together parts and strip out old printers and appliances and what-not, but I don’t have the time to find such items, strip them and reuse them. No knock on this dude, he seems very good at what he does, but there are A LOT of smart people out there that fall into the same boat as me, strapped for time and money to do cool stuff when we have day jobs and lives that don’t allow for it. I assume it could also do with where you live as well, how accessable funding, free shit, and time really are. My commute eats up a large portion of my time, where I work, how much I get paid, how I have commute to get there (no mass transit, meaning I have to use my own car) etc. Access to tools, a hacker space (and time to use it)? a boss thats cool with me using the stuff at work for personal projects? Sure there is having brains, but that is only part of the battle…

    • Joe Niven says:

      I have to Agree with the above assessment. As much as Ben does cool stuff, If I had the resources that Ben had, I would probably be doing similar stuff, and I think that can be said for almost anybody reading here at Hackaday. If I had money, time and resources, I would have built a vacuum chamber, played with plasma cleaning, sputtered ITO, and all the other crazy stuff Ben has done. Being pretty much a corporate sponsored tinkerer like he is has its perks for sure.

      • dan says:

        I suspect (though don’t know for sure) that Ben is just older than you are.

        The whole resource thing is a joke though surely? I mean it doesn’t take a lot to notice some junk laying on a kerb and think “I’ll have that!” in fact that’s where all the components for my first years of projects came from… taking apart old stuff.

        It might seem like an extreme way to get a few pence worth of resistors for sure, but I also got a load of multipin connectors from old computer main-boards, a load of motors from printers, loads of through hole components from old stereos that people throw out…

        The second thing is the tools, clearly you don’t buy all the tools at once. but there is nothing wrong with starting out small and buying up tools from a pound shop, (in the UK pound land and pound world carry loads of tools, sure they aren’t great, but they are cheap) – I imagine there are similar dollar shops in other places.

        The reason why I said I suspect that Ben is older than you are is simply because that me from a decade ago who’s tool kit fitted inside an old metal lunch box (a soldering iron a few screw drivers and some wire cutters) would have been envious of the tools I’ve collected over the last decade. a part of the reason that I have so many tools is that I’ve hit up junk shops, pawn shops, pound shops and car boot sales. paying as little as I could for tools, and now have three rolling cabinets of hand tools alone!

        Having said that building stuff and hacking stuff means a lot to me, I’ve not really had a holiday where I’ve went somewhere for about 8 years, instead spending the money on tools!
        I fix my own car rather than taking it to a garage, (though that’s kind of chicken and egg with tools, will save money to buy tools by fixing car, must have tools in order to fix the car yourself.)

        • KleenexCommando says:

          I don’t know how old Ben is but I am 35. The UK is about the size of the whole state of California, I live in the middle of no where in the midwest in the middle of the United States. compared to where he lives, I may as well live in on a deserted island. It isn’t that he’s a collected tools longer than I have, It has a lot more to do with WHAT tools you can actually buy for what PRICE based on how close you are to the source of those things. He lives near silicon valley, which is the mecca of the American technology revolution. That puts him in a position to simply drive over to any of many surplus stores that sell old high technology gear for pennies on the pound that were once in the labratories of Hewlett Packard, or Xerox, or Varian, or any number of technology power houses of the day. You can find things like his 2 megawatt magnatron microwave tube that once cost an ungodly amount of money new, now discarded as scrap metal. Gigantic high voltage capacitors that would cost a fortune new, vacuum pumps and helium leak detectors once used to make microwave vacuum tubes that cost hundreds of thousands of dollars once upon a time. I can’t access those things without major shipping costs or fighting other bidders on ebay. I can and do buy “tools”, and have plenty of those things, you can buy much of what he has as far as shop tools at any Sears store. It’s more about the kinds of tools you can’t simply buy at Sears. His location dictates that those things are easier to get at. Time is another factor altogether, And as you get older, you tend to have less and less of that, until you retire anyway.

          • Dan says:

            >the kind of tools you can’t buy at sears…

            You mean like a NC machine to precisely iterate through measures of cookie ingredients ready for cooking?
            Nine times out of ten the tools you can buy are the ones you make!

            a 2Megawatt magnetron is pretty specialist, Whilst I agree it’s not the sort of thing you find everyday, but unless you’re rebuilding a WW2 Japanese death ray. I wonder why you’re needing that in particular, or was that just an example of a toy that Ben has that you don’t?

    • KleenexCommando says:

      I didn’t mean to imply this guy gets free stuff, but rather a hacker is better off dumpster diving when there are dumpsters to dive into and things in those dumpsters worth diving for. Having access to major electronics surplus is another big plus living in the S.F. / silicon valley area like a lot of “prolific” hackers. When you can simply drive to town and buy the quality of equipment once used by the folks in Palo by the pound, surplus or not, its a major difference.

  16. Z00111111 says:

    I thought everyone knew that a higher sugar:butter ratio makes the biscuit crisper, and lower sugar:butter makes for a chewier biscuit.

  17. neon22 says:

    I came into this world as a reject
    Look into these eyes…

    I did it all for the cookie MMM the cookie MMM the cookie MMM
    and you can take that cookie and stick it in

    http://www.sing365.com/music/lyric.nsf/Cookie-Monster-Parody-lyrics-Limp-Bizkit/AE05B442E8B72C2C4825706700111098

  18. Vonskippy says:

    Baking cookie dough – who’da thunk it. According to my kids you just eat the dough!

  19. Dhs says:

    He needs a stand mixer and some small ovens.
    This could could be very cool if it incorporated a robot arm somehow. And by cool I mean gimmicky.

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