Science takes the guesswork out of baking the perfect cookie


Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac
Darin Barri and Michael Wallace, inventors of Perfect Drink and Perfect Bake. Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

LAS VEGAS — For more than 10 years, Michael Wallace and Darin Barri were toy designers. Depressed about plummeting sales because of video games, the pair went on a week long bender to drown their sorrows.


They both loved lychee martinis, which are tricky to make. They dreamed of a smart cocktail mixer that uses weight — rather than volume — to make mixed drinks. So they hacked a kitchen scale with some electronics and coded an app. The resulting system, called Perfect Drink, makes it impossible to screw up martinis and dozens of other cocktails. They took it to Brookstone, who loved it and put it on the market. Eighteen months later, they’ve sold 120,000 units.

Now they’re back with Perfect Bake, a foolproof baking system that uses the weight of ingredients, rather than volume, to guide clueless home bakers.

Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac
The Perfect Bake system comprises a connected scale and app that guides amateur cooks through 600 recipes. Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac

Home bakers traditionally measure a cup of this and two cups of that — a recipe for disaster. Professional bakers use carefully-calibrated scales to weigh ingredients for perfectly reliable results.

Perfect Bake is a connected scale with three color coded mixing bowls. You slowly pour in the first ingredient, and when you hit the correct weight, the iPhone/iPad app tells you when to stop. Then it tells you the next ingredient you need. Guided by the app, the system carefully steps even the greenest chef through 600 different recipes.

The app has all kinds of smarts. Tell it you only want five cookies instead of a dozen, and it adjusts all the weights of the ingredients accordingly. It ha timers for all the different stages of cooking — mixing, cooling and baking.

It even includes a thermometer. During their research, Wallace and Barri discovered that a lot of ovens have inaccurate thermometers.

I loved it. It’s totally foolproof cooking. You can’t mess it up if you try. One of the designers — Barri — said he has never used oven in his life, but he gave me some cookies that tasted like Mrs Field’s.

It’s an ingenious gadget that reminds of an Easy-Bake oven, because even kids can use it. Designed for idiots, it’s a smarter way to cook.

Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac
Darin Barri and Michael Wallace have invented a smart cooking system for even the most challenged baker. Photo: Jim Merithew/Cult of Mac