Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Stupendous Milkbar Cookies

It isn't often that I come across a completely new concept in baking. For years and years and years I've browsed cookbook, magazines and (lately) the Internet picking up cooking and baking ideas and techniques from sources old and new.

For example when I had my muffin company I scoured old cookbooks to see what variations there were for muffins...and found more than the way I had grown up making them! Learning to make sponge cakes was such fun when all I had known was cake mixes and then batter cakes that start with creamed butter. Yeast raised waffles are different from ones where the rise comes from baking powder and/or folded in whipped egg whites. You get the idea...I like to understand the process as well as enjoy the product.

So when I picked up a copy of Momofuku Milk Bar cookbook and started looking through it the sensations I felt were excitement and confusion. Who knew that things call Crack Pie and Compost Cookies start with components called crunch, crumb and soil and things like pumpkin ganache and liquid cheesecake? Had to have a copy for my own, so was thrilled to get one thanks to Natasha...yay Christmas! If you love sugar and butter you will come to agree that Christina Tosi is a genius, too.

The first thing that I figured out was that all that crunch, crumb, soil, crust and so on is predicated on making a lot of these desserts. That's fine for a commercial bakery or restaurant but not so great for this homemaker plus hubby...we don't need trays and trays of cookies. A lot of the components freeze which would be fine if I had lots of freezer space, but I don't. I still think it is an awesome book and that the recipes sound amazing, but I think I'll need to save some of it for when I can do a lot of 'baking and giving away the results' at one time.

One recipe that I did figure out how to make without storing components was Compost Cookies. They really sound cool...a buttery cookie dough gets combined with ground coffee, rolled oats, potato chips, pretzels and other goodies like mini chocolate chips. Then the mixture gets chilled, then baked into enormous, gigantic cookies that are so delicious you want to eat every single one of them! This is dangerous people. I might have to make Crack Pie after all.

A key thing to know about this recipe is that it requires patience. You absolutely want to cream the butter and sugar for the full 2-3 minutes and definitely want to beat for the full 7-8 minutes after adding the egg and vanilla. That is about 9 minutes longer than, say, Toll House cookies. After the fun part of just barely mixing in the rest of the ingredients you do want to follow the recipe and chill the portioned dough for at least an hour. Worth the wait, believe me.

I'm going to give you the measurements for the actual amount of Graham Crust that the recipe calls for. If you buy the book you might want to make the whole amount because there are other great recipes that call for that component. I'm also going to give the ingredients by teaspoons and cups because that's what I used to make 'em.

Compost Cookies
from Momofuku Milk Bar Cookbook by Christina Tosi (makes 14-20 cookies)

16 tablespoons (2 sticks) butter, at room temperature
1 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup tightly packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons glucose (couldn't find this so used same amount of Golden Syrup)
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/3 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
3/4 cup mini chocolate chips (I used regular since the market was out of the mini ones)
1/2 cup butterscotch chips (instead I used 1/4 cup toffee bits and 1/4 cup white chocolate chips...hay they said to put in the stuff we like...and so can you)
the Graham Crust (recipe follows)
1/2 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
2 1/2 teaspoons ground coffee (whatever you use to brew coffee with...but not the grounds you have already brewed coffee with...nor instant coffee granules either)
2 cups potato chips (I used Ruffles but might try Kettle chips next time)
1 cup mini-pretzels

Combine the butter, sugars, and glucose (golden syrup) in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and cream together on medium-high for 2 to 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and the paddle then add the egg and vanilla and beat for 7 to 8 minutes until light and fluffy.

Reduce the speed to low and add the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Mix just until the dough comes together, no longer than 1 minute. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and the paddle.

Still on low speed, add the chocolate chips, butterscotch chips (or your choice of mix-in snack food), graham crust component, oats, and coffee and mix just until incorporated, about 30 seconds. Add the potato chips and pretzels and mix, still on low speed, until just incorporated, hardly at all.

Using a 2 3/4 oz ice cream scoop (or a 1/3 cup measure) portion out the dough onto a parchment-lined sheet pan. Pat the tops of the cookie dough domes flat. Wrap the sheet pan tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to 1 week. Do not bake your cookies from room temperature dough - they will not bake properly.

Heat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Arrange the chilled dough a minimum of 4 inches apart on parchment or Silpat lined sheet pans. Bake for 18 minutes. The cookies will puff, crackle, and spread. After 18minutes they should be very faintly browned on the edges yet still bright yellow in the center. Give them and extra minute or so if that's not the case. Try to avoid watching the State of the Union Address while the cookies are baking as I did...they probably cooked a minute or two longer than they should...but were still addictively good.

Cool the cookies completely on the sheet pans before transferring to a plate or an airtight container for storage. At room temp cookies will keep fresh for 5 days; in the freezer they will keep for 1 month. Good luck with having any left after 1 week much less 1 month!

Graham Crust (enough for 1 batch Compost Cookies)

Toss 6 tablespoons graham cracker crumbs, 1 tablespoon dry milk powder, 1/2 tablespoon sugar and a scant 1/4 teaspoon salt together in a medium bowl to evenly distribute the ingredients.

Whisk together in a small bowl 1 tablespoon melted butter and 1 tablespoon heavy cream.

Add the butter mixture to the dry ingredients and toss again to evenly distribute. The mixture will resemble small clusters of graham cracker crust. Set aside until needed for the Compost Cookies.


  1. OK, a post a day....that's a lot. You have my permission to take a break because you are making me sooo hungry!

  2. I've always been a fan of my salty mixed with sweet, so the idea of pretzels and potato chips in cookies is as evil and addictive as the idea of chocolate covered potato chips, which are apparently all the rage in Seattle just now.

    This sounds so unusual and "moreish," which is a word my friend Jac frequently uses to mean "You'll Want To Eat Your Bodyweight in them."

  3. Ron, Some of these dishes are healthier than this one, but the idea (sort of) is to make you want to cook or bake what I least some of them.

    Tanita, these are moreish and evil and addictive and even a bit too sweet (did I actually say that?)even with the salty stuff. Still, very yum.

  4. one a day? Now I understand your production... That's a lot of posts.

    You were in the cupcake business? Wow!

  5. Baking Soda, Actually it was the muffin business...before oversized muffins became popular. I called them Megamuffins and I only had two account because I also have an infant at home. The favortie was a vanilla muffin with a tablespoon of mixed ricotta cheese, lemon zest and sugar hidden in the middle.
    Almost done with the daily posts. It's been a good project but I think February will have only a few posts while I take a breath or two.