I don’t use the term “guilty pleasure,” but if I do, I think I have a penchant for eating raw when hungry cookie dough could fall right into this range.
My brother and I have secretly and thoughtlessly eaten cold food on many occasions cookie doughwhile handing a sleeve of store-bought paper cookie dough back and forth, savor the crunchiness of the chocolate chips, the tenderness of the batter itself, the hints of brown sugar, and everything else that makes the bite so darn enjoyable.
There’s a perfect middle, maybe five or 10 minutes after taking it out of the fridge, when the dough is ideal and pliable, but still cool. However, once it has warmed up or reached room temperature, the fleeting moment is over… it’s time to put it back in the fridge to cool again and enjoy again later.
However, what we don’t like is the annoying presence of familiar bugbears like raw egg and flour, which obviously shouldn’t be eaten with so much energy. Of course, for many who enjoy the raw dough — For me it is absolutely preferable to a real one cooked cookie — There’s often the flippant statement, “Well, a tiny bit of raw egg can’t hurt!”
But unfortunately there is a catch: It definitely can.
According to Frances Largeman-Roth, RDN, nutritionist and author of Snack tray for every dayAlthough the severity of side effects varies, it is generally recommended to stay away from uncooked eggs and flour.
“For many people, eating raw cookie dough won’t be a problem – “Mostly,” said Largeman-Roth. “But if you’re immunocompromised, pregnant or have a young child, your risk of getting sick is higher.”
She continued, “Honestly, catching a foodborne illness from cookie dough, raw or undercooked meat or eggs can be life-threatening, so it’s absolutely not worth the risk.”
While many often assume that the egg is the enemy of overeating raw cookie dough, the flour may be an even greater culprit. As Deborah Malkoff-Cohen, a Registered Dietitian, tells me via email, “People don’t think of flour as ‘raw,’ but it hasn’t been treated to kill germs that cause foodborne illnesses like E. coli and salmonella.” You hear about salmonella all the time when eating raw eggs, but eating raw, undercooked flour can also introduce bacteria into your gastrointestinal tract.
However, in recent years, many edible cookie doughs have popped up on store shelves and in small convenience stores, often with trendy nicknames or different spellings of the word dough. Honestly? I haven’t enjoyed a single one of these, which often brings me back to the wonders of pure, unadulterated cookie dough made with raw eggs and raw milk. But how about you do it yourself?
In fact, eggs should be pasteurized — or omitted entirely, according to Malkoff-Cohen and Largeman-Roth. From a taste point of view, the egg in the raw preparation is almost completely obsolete. It only comes to life and gives the cookie its magical powers once it is cooked. So, frankly, omitting it in raw form is negligible.
According to Malkoff-Cohen, “The protein in cooked eggs is 180% more digestible than raw”. As such, they recommends making edible cookie dough with all the usual ingredients, but omitting eggs and heat-treating (aka cooking) the flour before adding it to the dough. It can even be just popped in the microwave! The oven does not need to be turned on at all.
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Largeman-Roth recommends a vegan chickpea or white bean cookie dough. Interestingly, Largeman-Roth also notes that all of the cookie doughs in ice cream are “made from pasteurized eggs and treated flour,” making them safe to eat and snag a pint (or more) at the grocery store.
Don’t want to prepare some yourself? There are some reliable standby brands out there too – including Nestlé Toll House, one of my absolute favorites – which now also sells an edible version of its legendary, fabled dough. There really is no reason to continue eating raw cookie dough with harmful ingredients when there are so many edible, safe doughs on the market, in stores, and possibly right in your own kitchen.
So if you’re asking if there’s a way to make this inherently “guilty pleasure” not guilty at all, the answer is a big, loud, and resounding “yes.” And that’s definitely a reason to celebrate — maybe even with some (edible) raw cookie dough?
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