I Made ChatGPT's Miso Cookie Recipe
Was it any good? And what about the photo it generated?
In my last newsletter, I interviewed ChatGPT, the AI software, on behalf of food writers. (It got a great response! Thanks to everyone who commented and promoted it online. I name a few of you below.)
I had asked the software to generate a recipe for peanut butter cookies with miso. After the newsletter went out, I realized I should have made them, to see if an AI-generated recipe works. Commenter Helen S. Fletcher, a high-end pastry chef, said the same thing.
A few other issues nagged at me too, so I had to ask ChatGPT more questions. But first:
I baked the cookies.
It was a straightforward recipe until I got to “Scoop out 1-2 tablespoons of dough at a time and roll into balls.” Bakers know there’s a difference in how long a 1-tablespoon or 2-tablespoon cookie ball bakes. In recipe writing, t’s better to pick a specific size, to make baking time more accurate.
More importantly, I couldn’t roll the batter into balls. It was way too soft and sticky, almost like whipped cream. So I mixed in a 1/4 cup of flour. The batter became stiff enough to use a melon baller to shape it into balls. But when it came time to “Use a fork to press down on the dough balls, making a criss-cross pattern on the top of each cookie,” the balls stuck to the fork. In my photo of my cookies (below), there’s barely any fork imprint. They were still too sticky.
The recipe said to bake the cookies for 12-14 minutes, which was too long for the 1-tablespoon ball. Ten minutes worked fine. The 60 small cookies were too flat to be recognizable as peanut butter cookies. They had crispy edges and the crumb was delicate and tender.
Even so, they tasted great! I loved the savoriness and the hit of salt at the end. The 1/4 cup of miso was just right. ChatGPT had generated the following in a second ask for a peanut butter cookie with miso recipe:
Note: The miso paste in this recipe adds a savory, umami flavor to the cookies. If you prefer a sweeter taste, you can reduce the amount of miso or omit it altogether.
It’s dumb to suggest readers omit the miso when it’s in the title of the recipe, and to make people feel nervous about the amount. All kinds of people use miso in cooking. It’s a mainstream ingredient now.
Plus, I don’t like notes. Readers are notorious for not reading recipes all the way to the end. I want the note information to go in the headnote, so readers are more likely to read it.
A few more questions nagged at me since my last newsletter, so…
I asked for a recipe headnote.
The recipe ChatGPT gave me had no headnote or yield. So I asked. But look at what it gave me! The answers start out well, but then, OMG:
Me: Please write a recipe headnote for peanut butter cookies with miso.
ChatGPT: “These peanut butter cookies with miso are a unique twist on a classic treat. The addition of miso, a fermented soybean paste commonly used in Japanese cuisine, adds a savory depth of flavor that perfectly complements the nutty sweetness of the peanut butter. The result is a chewy and delicious cookie that is both familiar and unexpected. Serve them as an after-school snack or bring them to your next potluck for a surefire crowd-pleaser.”
Me. The cookie wasn’t chewy. And the last sentence is generic to any cookie recipe. Can you make it more specific, please?
ChatGPT: “These cookies are best enjoyed