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Why Does Milk Go So Well with Cookies?

Before odd pairings like ice cream and fries were a trend, the classic milk and cookies were all the rage. But did you ever wonder why milk paired so well with cookies and other sweets?

There is a scientific explanation as to why milk pairs well with cookies. This is because milk has the sixth basic taste called “oleogustus,” or in simpler terms, fat taste. This property basically changes the overall flavor profile of sweets.

The Science Behind the Theory

Even as children, we knew that milk and cookies went well together. Milk helps ease the cookie’s sweetness by coating our tongues and acting as a palate cleanser. Every time you take a sip, the milk clears the way for your next bite. According to scientific research, the fat in the milk is the reason why it works so well with sweet food. Fat taste is considered the sixth basic taste that enhances the appeal of desserts contributing to their sensory profiles. Fat taste is also known as oleogustus.

In addition, dunking warm cookies into a warm cup of milk improves the flavor since the aroma of a freshly-baked cookie reaches your olfactory nerves faster. This is because warm and wet aromas travel faster. (Source: Bon Appetit)

Are Cookies Milk’s Only Soulmate?

Pastry chef Elisabeth Pruitt and her husband, master baker Chad Roberston claim that peanut butter and jelly is the most ideal pairing for milk. They love the combo so much they created their own bread and sweet jelly recipe specifically paired with a tall frosty glass of milk. They serve this at their bakery in San Francisco called the Tartine Bakery.

There are other tried-and-true combos, of course. Milk complements the cocoa and cream cheese in brownies. It is a natural fit with anything bittersweet like chocolate truffles, cocoa souffles, or chocolate and walnut fudge. But you can also come up with your own spin on the perfect sweet something to serve milk with.

Chad Robertson, Tartine Bakery

IBM developed a cognitive cooking technology called Chef Watson. It uses flavor algorithms to create unique food combinations based on the recipes uploaded on its database. Chef Watson will suggest food that goes great together and provide a well-balanced meal. All the user needed to do was enter ingredients that they wanted to use and identify the kind of course and style they were making. An output will then be provided using the data the program had.

Other milk-friendly foods to challenge Watson with include cinnamon, berries, mocha, pecans, and apples. You can even enter ingredients that traditionally show up in savory dishes, like corn. As long as you choose “dessert” as the course, you’ll get suggestions for sweet treats, such as shortcakes, crostata, and donuts. Or try typing in “breakfast” and you’ll get suggestions for a corn-and-blueberry compote to spoon over your pancakes and a fruit salad with dried cranberries, Granny Smith apples, and (you guessed it) corn to serve alongside your French toast. Working with Watson is like being in a brilliant brainstorming session—inspirational, exciting, and totally scalable.

Got Milk?

At the end of 2021, IBM discontinued Chef Watson.

(Source: Bon Appetit)

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