As reported by Quartz, Hilton is teaming up with Zero G Kitchen and the International Space Station to take their famous DoubleTree cookies to new heights. The team is building a special oven with a silicone pouch in which to bake the cookies in space.
DoubleTree by Hilton offers all its guests a free chocolate chip cookie when they check in, and they’ll sell a tin of six if you ask at the front desk. I’ll be honest: the cookies have sometimes swayed me to stay at a DoubleTree over other hotels. They aren’t as crispy on the outside like mine, but they are pretty consistent and are nice and thick.
You may remember from 2001: A Space Odyssey that Hilton had a space hotel. Well, I guess they need to find a way to bring the cookies to space, too.
I’ve always been something of a snob when it comes to chocolate chip cookies, and it may even have been a part of why I later became a scientist. My dad used cookies to teach me how to bake and cook when I could barely reach the counter. I learned that it’s essentially just chemistry. Like chemistry, you can alter the recipe to get different results or be very consistent to get the same results.
Space is a problem for chemistry. You don’t have gravity to hold the ingredients together, nor do you have convection in the oven that causes warm air to circulate. So even if it seems a bit silly to test this with cookies, I think the experiment will still yield some useful scientific data on how things work differently. At the very least we might learn something new about preparing better food for astronauts.
I am a little skeptical about some of the flexibility this experiment provides. If you bake the cookie in a pouch squeezed between two silicone sheets, there is no way it will bake into a sphere. Without circulating air there is also no way you’re going to get a crispy outer shell. The comparison that comes to mind is sous vide. Most likely the space chefs will end up with something closer to an evenly cooked chocolate chip brownie.
But as someone who has eaten more than a healthy amount of cookie dough, it still tastes good no matter what condition it’s in!