HOWTO bake dashboard cookies while you're working

Beat the heat this summer by setting a tray of raw cookies on your dashboard to bake in the stifling heat inside your car while you work -- you get a tray of warm, fresh-baked cookies to eat on the return commute!
It took about 2 1/2 hours for the cookies to bake completely. I ended up opening the car door shortly before the end of the baking period to check for doneness. This check has to be done manually, as there are no color indicators (such as brownness) to judge by because the sugar in the car cookies does not caramelize and brown like that of oven-baked cookies. So, I gently pressed the edges of the cookies to feel that they were firm and even more gently touched the center of one of the cookies to see that it held together and was not gooey (the center of the cookie should not be entirely firm, unless you are shooting for a crispy cookie). Finally, I slid one of the cookies around on the parchment paper - a good test for this type of baking because a baked cookie will release easily from the paper, while an unbaked cookie will stick in place. If your cookies are not done, add more baking time in 15 or 30 minute increments, as opposed to the 30 second or 1 minute increments you might add to an oven-baked cookie.
Car-Baked Chocolate Chip Cookies, step by step September 4 (via Making Light


  1. Thank goodness I’m not commuting significant distances anymore. When I did, I gained over 20 lbs. The added inactive time, stress, availability of fast food… this was a very bad combination for me.

    “you get a tray of warm, fresh-baked cookies to eat on the return commute!” Yeah, this would have been a really big problem.

    As for cooking with your car, the engine block is a ready made heat source.

  2. great energy saver, but why not, third world economicsts use a box oven for cooking in extreme heat climates. Line the box with foil. Joyce

  3. But your car will smell like cookies for WEEKS. Why would you do that to yourself?

    I can’t imagine anyone with a new car would want to do this.

    Maybe con a friend into doing this.

    Plus, if you’re running out to check your cookies, how hard are you really working?

  4. One of the former factory workers at my current work used to do a similar thing. Every morning he left a frozen meat pie on the dashboard which he then retrieved at lunch time.

    1. Aussie sun
    2. Diahatsu Feroza
    3. Meat pie
    4. ????
    5. Profit!

    Mind you, this was the same guy who once stashed a 2 litre bottle of milk under an industrial saw for a few days in the middle of summer, then drank it…

  5. Unfortunately, we in Upstate NY haven’t been having a very warm summer so this probably wouldn’t work for anyone around here.

  6. I’m all for solar-powered baking, but Paul and Storm said it best:

    “There’s nothing better than a whole damn tube of raw cookie dough
    (Go on and eat it all)
    Don’t slice it, don’t cook it, don’t serve it, don’t share it
    (Go on and eat it all)
    Hide the wrapper at the bottom of the trash
    And go back up to bed
    Filled with shame
    And cookie dough
    From Pillsbury®”

    Such genius.

  7. i would only do this if the cookie dough did not have eggs or milk in it- too high a risk of food bacteria messing things up.

  8. My mom makes sun baked jam in a similar fashion. They taste even more like the fruit. And don’t forget that some wines like Maury and Madera are made by leaving the barrels in the sun as well.

  9. This is just a terrible, terrible idea. One of the commenters in the article explained why this is a bad idea. 150° is not hot enough to safely cook the eggs in cookies.

    Egg whites do not begin to coagulate (cook) until they reach about 140F and egg yolks do not begin to coagulate until they reach about 150F. For both, the temperature must be raised another 10F before they can be considered cooked. Both fats and sugar retard the coagulation of the egg so that they don’t begin to coagulate until about 180F. The foregoing can be found at Baking911, America’s Test Kitchen and the USDA/FSIS. It seems that your cookies may be dehydrating rather than actually baking.

  10. @7

    I am guessing (not much of a cook myself) that a workaround would be recipe(s) that doesn’t use eggs or at least uses things like egg substitutes.

    I’d happily just eat raw dough

  11. Car cooking is an old trick from my youth. Here in Georgia during the summer it’s not unusual for the inside temp of your car to hit over a hundred during the day. When we came to work in the moring we would park our cars facing the rising sun. In a closed clear container your food would slowly warm up and be ready to eat for lunch. It was great for warming leftovers and could cook some vegetables nicely.

  12. #The Lizardman. I’ll glady take my chances and eat raw dough, as long as it’s cold and hasn’t had a chance to fester in a hot car for a few hours.

  13. Hmmm…. my mother and I used to bake a type of merengue based chocolate chip cookie we called Forgotten Cookies. You turned the oven up quite high and then turned it off and baked the cookie in the residual heat. After leaving them in a cooling oven all night they were a great treat in the morning. I bet those would adapt well to the car and be a little lighter too.

  14. That being said, for all the trouble of mixing the dough in the morning or night before… why not just bake them in the oven?

  15. Forget your car smelling like cookies.
    Think of your cookies smelling.. and tasting like your car.
    Plastics, when heated, release toxins. This is exponentially more true with new cars. The new-car smell is all the plastics in the car drying. It’s bad enough that the car has to be vented EVERY time it’s opened after being in the heat, now people are baking in it?!
    The only safe way of doing this is to bring a sealed metal container into the car to protect it from the toxic fumes.

  16. Perhaps as a solution for the cookie smell penetrating every nook in your car, someone should invent a solar oven box that you could put on your dashboard. Basically an airtight box with a window and some reflective material inside? Then all your smells are contained into a removable box. You might even be able to raise the temperature inside of the box with the right coating on the glass to trap the heat even more. I smell a new product for Vince Shlomi to hawk on late night TV.

  17. @BlueElm, I think the idea is to use premade cookie dough such as is sold by Pillsbury.

  18. Isn’t that “New Car Smell” evil plasticky things in your car degassing? I know I’d still get brain damage from the degassed vapors, but I’d rather smell cookies for weeks than artificial car-stink. I bet it would also beat the pants off of those Repoman-style pine tree shaped air fresheners, too.

    I’ve always wanted to try this with a pork loin. I’d use a thermometer to check the meat, though.

  19. this process would be much better suited to cuts of meat than baking. Adelle Davis recommends taking the cheapest roasts you can find and then just putting them in the oven and let heat from the pilot light cook them over the next day or so at a temperature not much over 100 degrees. And further proof would be found in the barbeque arts where the mantra “low and slow” regularly produces award winning and succulent meats at temperatures between 150 to 180.

  20. Ok… You folks know that Nestle cookie dough has recently been at the center of a tainted food investigation… right? A bunch of people got really sick. Hospital sick.

    This car interior cooking is a bad idea. Seriously. Your car’s interior cannot properly cook raw cookie dough. And… the most popular dough has been found to recently contain animal ecoli (from cow poo, basically). They (Nestle) say it’s all cool, but you eat tainted dough raw and you can die… or lose your ability to process normal food.

    Heat all cookies to 180F.

    Never eat raw dough.

    It’s all fun and games ’til someone loses a colon.

    And… get off my lawn (and get your damn Frisbee off my roof).


  21. Yeah… the lack of browning is the key, I think. These aren’t really being cooked. The butter (or fat) is melting, the liquid is evaporating, and what you’re getting is basically sun-dried raw cookie dough.

  22. Wait, your car ending up smelling like cookies for several weeks is a ….bad thing? I would consider that a bonus.

    That said: yeah, food safety concerns here. A solar oven on the dash might solve that because you can design them to get a lot hotter than 150F, but that sort of defeats the purpose of an oven-free baking process.

  23. I live in Arizona where it will be about 113 today. I got my office together to join in a group car cookie bake today. I did a test yesterday with a couple of cookies and it turned out amazing even though it was over-cast and not as hot. Today should be great. We have a lot of transplants from IL and NJ so they are enjoying the novelty.

    Appropriate captcha lol : Adams food

  24. The article says that the interior of the car reaches above 180 degrees… does anyone here know if a 180 degree car interior is hot enough to heat raw cookie dough above 140?

    My understanding of food safety and cooties, is that the longer a food is in the danger zone between 40 degrees and 140 degrees, the more time for cooties to grow in your food– which is why in commercial food prep food is heated to 140 or above and iced or cooled to 40 or below, as quickly as possible.

    Regardless, I’m with the crowd that views this as a dreadful idea. I don’t want my car interior to have a permanent cookie smell.

  25. Blah blah food safety. It Italy we used to eat zabaglione consisting of just raw egg yolks whipped up with sugar. Delicious.

    If God didn’t want us to eat E. coli He wouldn’t have invented raw eggs.

  26. … then again I do have a pretty ugly scar on my tummy from eating bad meat, which gave me salmonella, which gave me typhoid fever, which gave me a gangrenous, perforated appendix. Not joking.

    One one itty-bitty missing appendix has been worth all the good food I’ve eaten and not stressed over.

  27. @SAMSAM: The real question is would you eat it fresh (within an hour or two of the eggs being cracked) or would you let it sit out in a warm environment for 2.5 hours first?

  28. My first reaction was entirely different: Imagine what the heat does to pets and children, who some people still do not have the sense not to leave in cars?

    As for food safety, used to eat raw hamburger with raw egg while helping a friend’s mother. Just lucky, I guess. Can’t worry about everything.

  29. It was 117° here yesterday. I’d just as soon not get anywhere near the car, thanks.

  30. Never eat raw dough.

    *Do* eat raw dough. *Do* let your kids lick the spoon. Use fresh ingredients. Wash your utensils and dishes. Store raw meat on the bottom shelf.

    Never spend your whole life worried half to death that you might die from some minuscule risk. You get all that added stress from worrying, and you miss out on the pleasure.

    Yeah, you might get salmonella. Guess what. It’s not that bad usually. Totally worth the risk.

    Though I have to say, I wouldn’t recommend this car-baking thing. All those calories aren’t worth it if you’re not caramelizing the sugars. Cookies need to be baked at 350 degrees minimum. For taste.

  31. Also, *do* eat your own homemade cookie dough. DO NOT eat raw prepackaged cookie dough. The difference is taking a chance that one of your two freshly cracked raw eggs is bad vs. one of the thousand eggs in an industrial batch that was mixed weeks (months?) ago was bad.

    There are similar reasons to wash your own lettuce rather than take a chance on contamination of an entire vat of prewashed stuff bound for the nitrogen packs.

    Come to think of it, the more of your own food you prepare, the better.

  32. It’s not just the cookies that you are cooking. The polyvinylchloride (PVC) that your dashboard and many other interior components are made of are changing, outgassing, and becoming brittle. You’ve seen cracked dashboards- that’s why they cracked.
    Leave your windows open a little bit on hot days so excessive heat can escape- a cracked dashboard drops the resale value of your car, and looks crappy.
    Do your cookie cooking at home, or, better still, lay off the cookies, you fatties! (myself included.)

  33. #28: “or to get around the egg problem, you could, you know, make vegan cookies. geez.”

    #26: “Might as well just give up and die then.”

    that sounds about right. Shame it was in response to another post, though.

    @31 eColi is from trace amounts of poo, not from raw eggs.. that’s salmonella. I talked to poo and it was offended that you thought it was contaminated with salmonella. It wants an apology.. you know what to do.

  34. “Blah blah food safety. It Italy we used to eat zabaglione consisting of just raw egg yolks whipped up with sugar. Delicious.

    If God didn’t want us to eat E. coli He wouldn’t have invented raw eggs.”

    Yes! Thank you SAMSAM. I love Europeans. Europe, the place where food makes sense.
    Also, thank you Ivan256.We always ate the cookie dough when I was a kid. My dad wouldn’t let us eat raw meat, tho. And I did have a bad experience with a pizza that was left in a warm room for hours. I was at work and they told me to take the pizza home. I couldn’t wait to get home and nuke it and I ended up waking up in the middle of the night very, very sick. But I lived to tell about it.

  35. not worrying about any little thing is is a sound strategy only if the risk is very low.
    given enough food, ecoli can double it’s population (exponentially) in just 20 minutes @ 60 degrees Celsious. that’s just about what you get in your car in a hot day.
    that means, that in the time it takes to “bake” those cookies, ecoli population will increase by a factor of about 200 (!). wait less than an hour more, and the population will blossom at over 1000 fold. at that time, even trace amounts from your hands can induce severe stomach upsets.

    when you cross roads, you take precautionary measures, to ensure your well-being. you don’t say “to hell with it, you can’t worry about every little thing”, and then decide to try jumping-jacks with your eyes closed.

    now, i’m not saying you should panic – far from it. but you SHOULD be aware of basic food hygene, since bacteria can grow from harmless to life threatening so fast.

  36. Food safety is for wimps.

    Just like condoms and seatbelts and washing your hands …

    Jeebus! What a bunch of know-nothings.

  37. One hears these sorts of comments all the time in response to food safety:

    “I’ve eaten raw eggs for since I was a kid and I never got sick”


    “In Europe (or where ever), we eat raw eggs all the time.”


    “My mother/grandmother always ate raw eggs.”

    Food poisoning is NOT a joke. It can kill you. It can cause major organ damage. We’re talking the stuff of nightmares. The folks who laugh off the risk of food poisoning imagine a day or two of the shits and a bit of a bellyache. They have NO idea, no clue.

    The eggs you eat now are not your grandmother’s eggs. The conditions in which chickens are kept are unhealthy and grotesque. The crowding meant that a while back (maybe 20 years ago?) there was a big campaign to get consumers to cook eggs thoroughly. One did not, back in the day have to do this. Once could also eat rare hamburger without courting serious illness.

    To increase profits, food has gotten dirty. And it is all flipped, the fault. In a bit of jaw-dropping misdirection, the consumers have been blamed. We are the ones making a mistake if we don’t cook the hell out of our food. Never you mind that grandmother didn’t have to do any such thing.

    It all works out for the corporations because of the apathy, credulity and aggressive ignorance of the consumer. Most people aren’t paying attention. We just nodded and started cooking all our burgers until they were the color of shirt cardboard and our eggs until the yolks had the consistency of wall plaster and the whites – shoe leather. Never demanding that our food be safe. (Really, Americans don’t care about food being safe. We don’t care about food being good. We just demand that our food is CHEAP.)

    But, in a small way, the most maddening thing of all are the folks who don’t respect how serious foodborne illness can be. It is not a joke. If you have a habit of eating stupid and you haven’t gotten sick, it’s hardly a reason to crow and brag. You aren’t clever, just lucky. There is no food in the world that is worth getting serious food poisoning. Certainly not crap cookies cooked on your dashboard.

  38. That thing appears to be uncovered on a plate. Why not cover the thing with some sort of Saran wrap?

    Would the wrap retain heat and help the cookies bake at a slightly higher temperature?

  39. I tried to dry several pounds of ripe figs on my dashboard. Once. During a typically infernal central Texas summer.

    Even with the cookie sheets at [human-skin-]blistering temperatures, the fire ants swarmed into my car, marched across that hot steel, and devoured the figs. Grrr. Even after I removed the figs from my black Toyota solar oven on wheels, it was several days before all the ants decided to move on to where there was a better food supply.

    There is no way I’d try to bake or dry anything edible in my car again, until I could ant-proof it. How hard could that possibly be?

  40. Hey Raw Foodists, here’s the answer… vegan dehydrated dashboard cookies.

    Sounds amazing to me.

  41. Baking Bites has a few features on cookies in the car:

    As for vegan cookies- This recipe is really good, no animal products, and they don’t really brown, so you wouldn’t lose any cookie integrity by car-cooking:

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