I think we can admit to ourselves that we’re dunkers. It may not be polite, it may be messy – but it is delicious. Dipping the cookie in, just enough to make it warm and awesome, but not so much that it crumbles away – heaven is in that cookie.
But does dunking a cookie into a hot tea really make it taste better?
British chef Heston Blumenthal recently set out to discover on his TV show,Heston’s Fantastical Food. With the help of a high-tech gadget inserted, of all places, up his nose -he found that a chocolate-covered biscuit dipped into hot black tea did indeed have more flavor than an undunked one.
Blumenthal writes cookbooks, stars in TV shows and runs The Fat Duck restaurant just west of London. He likes to understand the chemistry behind his food. So to solve the mystery of the tea-drenched biscuit, Blumenthal enlisted the help of food scientists at the University of Nottingham. They’ve developed a device, called MS-Nose, which measures the amount of flavor released in your mouth as aromas when you eat various foods – in this case it measured the combo of tea and dunked cookie.
During the experiment, the MS-Nose sent data back to a computer screen, where the levels of flavor released are plotted on a chart.They Measured the amount of Methybutanol released when Blumenthal ate the cookies. Methylbutanol is a compound that gives cookies and baked goods a toasty or malty taste. When Blumenthal chews on a dry biscuit, the flavor registers on the line graph on a screen. But when he then dips the biscuit into tea and takes another bite, the “flavor line” noticeably spikes up on the chart.
The chart showed that the wet biscuit not only released more cookie flavor, but the aromas also burst into Blumenthal’s mouth more quickly. Talking about experiment Blumenthal says,
“Dunking makes the biscuit taste more biscuity. That’s complete evidence that dunking is better than not dunking.”