It's not uncommon to see Northwestern students mapping out dinnertime routes to hit hot cookie bar across in at least one of five dining halls one weekend. It's a dessert (and sometimes main course) phenomenon that has even skyrocketed to a “top 20 reasons to attend Northwestern” thread on College Confidential. But what really is in delectable half-baked mush?
First, lots of calories. Assuming one gooey square is approximately a spoonful of cookie dough, each can have up to 130 calories, depending on the type. The weekends tend to vary, but with the average Northwestern student taking anywhere from two to four squares, they become like calorie shots. And that’s excluding the ice cream.
Speculations are also widespread when it comes to deciphering what exactly the hot cookies are. While some believe they are just premade cookie dough, others are convinced the cookies are made from scratch and personalized by the dining chefs at the three halls. Still others are persistent that the cookies come from already-packaged cookies, which are broken apart and then re-melted together in the oven.
According to Javier Romero, the executive chef at Hinman, hot cookie bar is simply made from pre-made cookie dough. There is no secret recipe, no hidden ingredients or flavor additives and no tricks of the trade. The five dining halls across campus share this same approach. Although “there wasn’t a recipe, we found that the less we cook it, the more students like it,” Romero said.
Taste the cookie rainbow
Chefs in the three dining halls usually rotate a combination of six different varieties of cookie dough consisting of chocolate chip, oatmeal raisin, sugar, brown chocolate chip (brown dough with white chocolate chips), carnival cookies (dough with rainbow M&Ms) and ranger cookies (dough with Rice Krispies and oats).
“We used to add sprinkles or marshmallows to the sugar cookies and change varieties,” Romero said. “We used to add Oreo chunks and other items because sugar cookies are just plain dough, but we haven’t been doing that recently.”
Dining halls have also been known to bake mystery flavors for students and change things up by cutting the cookies in hexagonal shapes.
How much is too much?
Every Sunday night, Hinman serves 10 trays of hot cookie goodness. “With about 140 cookies per tray,” Romero calculated, “…that means we go through 1,400 cookies.” Allison also bakes its own 14 trays, Plex about six trays, Elder two trays and Sargent a grand total of 31 trays on their respective hot cookie bar evenings. Per weekend, Northwestern consumes approximately 8,820 cookies, enough to feed the population of a small town in Texas one square each. All in all, that adds up to more than a million calories in total.
Luckily for Northwestern students, the once-weekly indulgence is justified by following the “sometimes snack” paradigm of the reformed Cookie Monster. So long as this remains a dessert tradition on the weekends, let them eat hot cookies!