'They are afraid of me': Mastermind speedrunner bends the rules of a meme contest and bakes 12 actual cookies in under 4 minutes, forces site mods to make a whole new category

 QTCinderella, a Twitch streamer, holds up a batch of cookies she made in under 4 minutes.
QTCinderella, a Twitch streamer, holds up a batch of cookies she made in under 4 minutes.

There's a rule you'll have likely observed if you've been on the internet long enough—namely, if someone starts to do something as a joke, it's only a matter of time before it's taken very seriously.

Well, it's happened again—there is now a shockingly competitive, potentially fire-hazardous any% speedrun to bake 12 cookies. In real life.

The category initially started out on speedrun.com as a sub-category on Cookie Clicker—a highly popular web browser game that helped popularise the idle game genre back in 2013. However, in response to the runner we're concerned with here, the category had to be shut down and reopened—requiring the creation of "an entire IRL section for all IRL speedruns … thus moving forward, all IRL Cookie Baking speedruns will be submitted in the IRL section."

In case you're wondering how this sort of thing is moderated—for example, what constitutes a 'done' cookie—there's a google doc outlining the fresh Cookie Baking Ruleset. I'll summarise the requirements:

Competitors must not use electrical mixing appliances, convection ovens, or microwaves to bake their cookies. There's also a list of speedrun-sanctioned tools available—in which "hands" is included.

An image of a google doc outlining the permitted appliances for a bake 12 cookies speedrun.
An image of a google doc outlining the permitted appliances for a bake 12 cookies speedrun.

Each cookie has to be "as close to a circle as possible", and at least 3 inches in diameter. Your batch has to be cooked, both "internally and externally," and "edible"—so you can't just flash-burn stuff to a carbonised crisp. In terms of prep, contestants are allowed to array their ingredients as they choose and pre-open them, but they must remain in their original packaging.

There's also an ingredients list, which might be the first time in history that a recipe is pulling double-duty as a ruleset, outside of hyper-specific cooking shows.

The run itself started out humble enough. If you look at the leaderboards, you'll notice that most times—mostly performed around three years ago—lie at around the 20 minute mark. This is a normal amount of time one would take to bake some cookies, since most default recipes recommend around 9-12 minutes to bake a batch.

So you might be wondering, how in the chocolate-chip hell did Twitch streamer QTCinderella do it in under four minutes? In videogame speedrunning, contestants often make use of glitches, such as shoving Shadowheart from Baldur's Gate 3 in a box, setting it on fire, and using that to teleport to the end of Act 2. But there aren't any glitches in real life. You can't land a string of inputs to make heat work faster. You can, however, bend the rules.

Two rules are crucial to QTCinderella's run. Firstly, you are allowed to substitute out butter for certain oils. While using oil feels like a cardinal sin in cookie making, it's also speedrun-legal, and far, far faster than using butter simply because you don't have to melt it first. As the ruleset states, the timer "starts after touching the first ingredient"—in other words, you can't pre-melt your butter. Oil is the way to go.

The second rule QTCinderella takes advantage of is that you're allowed to pre-heat both your oven and your baking tray. The streamer got both her oven and not one, but two baking trays real hot—using the second to smush down her dough balls before they went in for around one and a half minutes.

The result is a set of cookies that aren't going to win any awards, but are absolutely (as the rules require) round, cooked internally and externally, at least three inches in diameter, and edible. QTCinderella even seems jubilant as she takes a bite: "And they even taste good! Literally the perfect texture on the inside."

The streamer's run was so blisteringly fast that it was, in fact, the reason that the website's moderators decoupled the contest from Cookie Clicker in the first place. Shortly after setting her record, site mods temporarily shut down the category to hammer things out in stone. Presumably before someone burnt themselves.

"They are afraid of me," QTCinderella jokes on Twitter. I mean, I already knew that speedrunners are terrifying, but now the Matrix is leaking into the real world, I'm definitely a little more afraid than I was before.