In Defense of Raw Batter

You understand that minute, simply after you get a batch of cookies in the oven, when you remove your apron, position the blending bowl nicely in the sink, fill it with water, and clean your hands to commemorate a job well done? Well, congratulations if you do. I’ve definitely never ever experienced it.

As quickly as I’ve formed the last fairly sized cookie, my grubby little paws go directly for the dough that’s adhering to the side of the bowl. Does one raw cookie appearance runty compared with its pan-fellows? Issue fixed! It’s currently in my stubborn belly. Cookie dough, pancake batter, pie crust, brownie batter, bread dough, custard—you call it, I’ve consumed it raw.

The CDC approximates that a person in 6 Americans gets a foodborne illness every year. And you understand what? I’m most likely 2 or 3 of them. I can’t keep in mind a time in my life prior to I licked the beaters tidy. Luring a stomachache for the sweet, gritty complete satisfaction of a licked beater has actually constantly been a video game of live roulette that I’m willing to play. And after investing almost 2 years drawing up the effects of every threat I take, that carefree minute when batter fulfills tongue feels more valuable than ever.

A lot of individuals concur with me. In one customer study released previously this year, two-thirds of those who bake with flour confessed to consuming raw cookie dough. Betty Feng, the food researcher at Purdue University who led the study, informed me that her coworkers in other nations are in some cases amazed to become aware of this practice. “It’s not something worldwide,” she stated.

For those with strong American worths, who do understand the unparalleled goodness of a spatula covered in cake batter or a spoonful of raw brownie, 3 aspects are most likely at play: taste, texture, and psychology. Batters and doughs tend to be sweeter than their baked equivalents, Jaime Schick, a pastry and dessert professional at Johnson & Wales University, informed me. Throughout baking, the sugar crystals liquify into the eggs, butter, and oil that surround them, and some caramelize. That produces a less sweet however more intricate taste when something lastly comes out of the oven.

Undissolved sugars likewise include a grittiness to raw batter that’s difficult to duplicate in other foods, Schick discussed. If you don’t have a bowl of brownie batter on hand, simply attempt to think of the last time you snuck a spoonful: It’s mainly smooth, however speckled with tasty, sandy grains that may even crunch in between your teeth. That right there is textural nirvana. “Contrast is really, really pleasing,” Schick stated. You can discover comparable excellence on a bigger scale in raw chocolate-chip-cookie dough, which, with your eyes closed, sort of seems like pebbles blended into Play-Doh, in an excellent way. As soon as the cookies are baked, the chips melt, and you lose that sharp enjoyment. And even without the contrast, the texture of batter and dough is remarkably varied: a spectrum varying from semiliquid (brownie) to semisolid (shortbread). Its in-betweenness is “something that you don’t find in baked products or in other products,” Schick stated; the closest contrast she might consider was chocolate lava cake (perhaps simply a cake filled with cake batter), or the liquid center in a chocolate truffle.

This taste-and-texture profile makes raw batter a reward. However the context in which individuals consume it differentiates it from other indulgent foods, states Lisa Duizer, the chair of food science at the University of Guelph, in Canada. If you’ve made a recipe from scratch, scraping the bowl is “the reward at the end of the job,” she told me. Nostalgia, too, could make the practice harder to resist for individuals who have fond memories of parents or loved ones passing them the beaters as a kid. Also, Duizer said, it feels rebellious. “Our brain tells us that we shouldn’t be doing it. But there’s that little devil on our shoulder that says, Oh, do it anyway. It’s not going to hurt you.

The little devil is, as usual, not entirely correct. Eggs and flour can carry E. coli and salmonella. “Most people are going to get diarrhea and get over it” if they do encounter these pathogens, Cynthia Sears, an expert in foodborne illnesses at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, told me. But if you’re very young, very old, pregnant, immunocompromised, or living with diabetes, the bugs pose a real risk. Even otherwise healthy people, Sears said, can occasionally develop complications beyond stomach discomfort, including reactive arthritis. Salmonella, in particular, can stick around in your gut for a long time. And if you work in a setting such as a day care or hospital, you might have to prove that you’ve cleared the infection before going back to work.

Felicia Wu, a food-safety professor at Michigan State University, told me that when it comes to raw batters, she worries about a strain of E. coli, O157:H7, which can in rare cases lead to kidney disease and death. In general, she would advise people against such eating habits. Still, she sees it as a personal decision: “Each one of us knows how much benefit or pleasure we get from eating raw cookie dough,” she said. Oh, we know alright.

For me, a hit of raw cookie dough might make me almost as happy as, say, going to a concert. But if I go to a concert these days, I’ll be ratcheting up the risk for myself, the other fans, and everyone I interact with after. When I scrape the side of a bowl and let the resulting dollop melt in my mouth, it’s easier to feel in control, like the risks I take are mine alone. The rules don’t change, either: Today’s raw chocolate-chip cookie dough isn’t likely to be any more or less dangerous than the peanut-butter variant I mix up next Tuesday. I don’t need to plan to consume cookie dough in June, then spend six months fretting over whether or not I will actually be able to eat it when the time comes. It’s instantaneous, a fleeting joy; there’s no time to agonize over what it means. A blink, a swallow, and it’s over.

At this point, I’m starting to wonder if I have any boundaries when it concerns raw eggs and flour. Image this: It’s November, and I’ve chosen to make an Earl Grey custard pie for Friendsgiving. To make the filling, I’ve soaked the tea in milk and whipping cream, then blended that with sugar, vanilla, cornstarch, and eggs. That’s definitely nasty, I believe. Generally egg-and-bergamot soup. And after that I take a sip. After all, I have a track record to maintain.

Jobber Wiki author Frank Long contributed to this report.