The silicone baking mat isn't a new invention. Monsieur Guy Demarle invented the Silpat in 1965 to improve his baguette baking process, and ever since, bakers all over the world have enjoyed the mats for a variety of kitchen uses. Made of fiberglass mesh and silicone, the mats, along with all the other brands that have come on the market since 1965, are known for repelling even the stickiest of kitchen messes.
Experienced cooks know that when it comes to kitchen tools, there's really no one piece of equipment that does absolutely everything. Part of learning in the kitchen is understanding which tool to choose to achieve your desired outcome. Though you might think silicone mats and parchment paper are interchangeable, they're not! And when it comes to baking cookies, silicone mats might not be ideal. What can happen to cookies baked on a silicone mat? Fiberglass Mesh
Stella Parks, writing for Serious Eats, has experience diagnosing cookie troubles. She explains, "Whenever a reader writes in asking me to troubleshoot cookies that spread too much, browned too much, and turned out greasier than those pictured in the recipe, my first question is almost always 'Were they baked on silicone?' More often than not, the answer is yes."
Parks goes on to explain that silicone mats affect the way cookie dough conducts heat, and that a mat's nonstick surface allows cookies to spread more while baking. In comparison, cookies not baked on silicone will spread more slowly, allowing for the desired rise and a "delicate crunch and honeycomb crumb."
Fiberglass Netting Even Silpat acknowledges that cookies baked on their mats will turn out differently than cookies baked on other surfaces, explaining that Silpat will "produce flatter, rounder, more gourmet looking cookies." That's not to say silicone mats aren't an essential cooking tool; it just means that deliberate cooks should understand the particular qualities of silicone mats and parchment paper in order to make a smart choice and achieve their desired result. Curious about how silicone mats will affect your cookies? Try a batch of lemon gooey butter cookies or chocolate chunk cookies on both parchment paper and a silicone mat and compare your results.