Dessert | Food

It Turns Out Google's AI Doesn't Make Good Cookies, But Here's How You Can

Google

Since the dawn of time, people have been searching for the perfect cookie recipe. While some have come close to finding the answer to this daunting task, it has still yet to be retrieved.

But this hasn't deterred Google, who with the help of artificial intelligence, attempted to make the "perfect" chocolate chip cookie.

However, some people are skeptical whether the experience was actually a success.

What Happened

A small team at Google decided they would try to hack the problem of lackluster chocolate chip cookie recipes by developing the perfect biscuit with a set list of ingredients.

"Over the past year, a small research team at Google has been experimenting with a new technology for experimental design.To demonstrate what this technology could do, our team came up with a real-world challenge: designing the best possible chocolate chip cookies using a given set of ingredients," senior staff engineer Daniel Golovin said in a blog post about the experiment.

The engineers used a technique called "Bayesian Optimisation," where they would input the ingredients into the computer where it would generate various recipes, each with a specific formula.

"We did this dozens of times—baking, rating, and feeding it back in for a new recipe—and pretty soon the system got much better at creating tasty recipes," Golovin wrote.

After two months, the group took their recipe to the Bourke St Bakery to put them to the test, with very mixed results.

"And the first batch was terrible," Anil Sabharwal, VP of Comms and Photos at Google, said during a press event in Sydney, Australia. "But after that it started to get a little better… and after 59 batches they actually perfected the cookie."

However, according to Business Insider, the company's "perfect" cookie was "not so great."

Calling the cookie texture a mix between "a cake and plastic," reporter Sarah Kimmorley said it also had a harsh cardamom flavor, with its only redeeming quality being the chocolate chips.

But those in the tech industry know AI isn't all that it's cracked up to be. Last November, Stephen Hawking gave his thoughts on the subject.

"Success in creating effective AI, could be the biggest event in the history of our civilization. Or the worst. We just don't know. So we cannot know if we will be infinitely helped by AI, or ignored by it and side-lined, or conceivably destroyed by it," Hawking said.

"Unless we learn how to prepare for, and avoid, the potential risks, AI could be the worst event in the history of our civilization. It brings dangers, like powerful autonomous weapons, or new ways for the few to oppress the many. It could bring great disruption to our economy," he added.

He may not have been talking about biscuits, but the implication is still there.

If you want to taste this cookie for yourself, here's the controversial recipe:

Tips On How You Can Make A Better Cookie

If you crave the ultimate ooey, gooey cookie, there are several tips and tricks to achieve your goal. Here are the top five:

1. Soften the butter

Along with sugar, butter is an ingredient that affects a cookie's structure. If the butter is either too hard or is melted, your biscuit isn't going to have the same soft texture.

When the sugar is mixed in with the butter, it'll cut small air pockets in the spread. The butter will stiffen from the flour and then be filled with C02 from the baking powder.

You can soften your butter by either keeping it in a room temperature environment for a few hours, or grate it in a bowl.

2. Don't skip the salt

When you're baking, salt is one of the most important ingredients to use. If you don't use salt, your cookies will have an unbalanced taste of being overly sweet while also lacking its savory taste. Salt elevates the other ingredients' flavors, and prevents the dough from rising too quickly.

You don't have to use much either as most recipes call for about one teaspoon.

3. Chill the cookie dough

If you want to make a delicious batch of cookies, you shouldn't be in a rush. If the dough is particularly sticky, wet, or greasy it'll need to spend at least a few hours in the freezer. By doing so you'll be preventing the dough from spreading when it goes into the oven, while also elevating its flavor.

When you do take the dough out of the freezer, you should let it stand at room temperature for about 10 minutes before you move onto the next step. This way you won't have to struggle rolling it into balls.

4. Bake them at the correct temperature

Baking your cookies in the right temperature is a crucial step to making a truly delectable treat. The temperature you'll use will typically vary from 325°F or 375°F depending on what ingredients were used and the type of oven you have.

If your dough isn't cooked at the right temperature, your cookies will consistently come out underbaked on the inside, while being hard as a rock on the outside.

5. Timing is everything

If you like your cookies with a soft center, you should take a peek at them a few minutes before your timer is set to go off.

Before I pull out my cookies from the oven I'll take a knife and dip it into the center of one of the cookies. If it comes out clean I know to take them out right away, but if there's residue on the utensil I'll keep the cookies in for a little bit longer.

Even after you take them out, your biscuits will continue to brown thanks to the heat remaining from the cookie sheet.

Want to make some genuinely tasty cookies? Check out these yummy recipes:

[H/T: CNBC, Business Insider, Sally's Baking Addiction, The Spruce Eats]

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Maya has been working at Shared for a year. She just begrudgingly spent $200 on a gym membership. Contact her at maya@shared.com