As people stay home to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus, many are rolling up their sleeves and baking bread and sweets to cope. Just search #QuarantineCookies and #QuarantineBaking on Twitter to see the trend in action as many continue to shelter in place during the COVID-19 pandemic.
If you’re looking for an easy way to take part, try edible cookie dough. Note: This is a treat, and not a health food by any measure. But a healthy diet is one that is balanced and enjoyable — and this treat is a cinch to make because there’s no baking required. “It’s fun to make with kids but can be tailored to different dietary restrictions, which is a plus for parents,” says Alix Turoff, a registered dietitian and virtual nutrition coach in New York City.
Just be sure to watch portion size so you aren’t overdoing it with calories, fat, and sugar. “Since you’re not baking the cookie dough, the portion isn’t huge — cookies expand when you bake them,” Turoff says. When in doubt, stick to the serving size listed in the recipe.
The Importance of Heat-Treating Flour as a First Step
There’s a reason traditional cookie dough is unsafe to eat. Raw flour and egg may contain bacteria such Escherichia coli (E. coli), which causes food poisoning, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). While it’s impossible to avoid this risk when eating raw cookie dough with egg, you can enjoy recipes that call for raw flour by heat-treating the flour before mixing it into the dough.
Donald W. Schaffner, PhD, a professor of food microbiology at Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, in New Brunswick, recommends following these steps for heat-treating all-purpose or oat flour.
- Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.
- While the oven is heating, place the all-purpose or oat flour for your recipe on a baking sheet. Spread the flour evenly so it’s no deeper than ¾ inch.
- Once the oven is done preheating, cook the flour for 5 minutes.
- Allow the flour to cool completely before mixing it into your recipe. Note that heat-treating your flour may create a slightly nutty flavor, according to the flour manufacturer Honeyville.
- Refrigerate the edible cookie dough and eat within three days, which is the time period it remains safe to eat.
Dr. Schaffner was unfamiliar with ways to safely heat-treat other types of flour, including almond and coconut varieties, and research on doing so is also slim to nonexistent. That said, there is some proof that enjoying these flours raw could be dangerous. In March 2018, for example, King Arthur Flour Company recalled 6,300 cases of organic coconut flour after discovering that some of its products were contaminated with salmonella, according to a news release from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. As with E. coli, salmonella exposure can cause foodborne illness.
None of the recipes here contain eggs, nor do they contain coconut or almond flour. Those that do contain flour use all-purpose wheat or oat, and are described as such.
Now that you know how to indulge safely, here’s some recipe inspiration for this easy-to-make dessert.