Cookbook Collector: Momofuku Milk Bar

December 15, 2011

Chocolate chip cookies (with coffee grounds and pretzels), red velvet ice cream, liquid cheesecake, cinnamon bun pie, grasshopper pie, corn cookies, it's hard to resist the lure of Christina Tosi's desserts in her new and highly anticipated cookbook, Momofuku Milk Bar

On the outside, the book appears to be like any other baking book filled with recipes for cookies, cakes and pies (and to a certain extent it is) but once you dive in, you quickly realize that it is anything but that.  I find myself going back to Momofuku Milk Bar because of it's creative edge.  Tosi uses ingredients like corn flour, milk powder and glucose that are unlikely to be in the average home baker's pantry.  That is not to say that the recipes are inaccessible but they do have some unfamiliar ingredients.  

However, Tosi does not put your time spent hunting rare ingredients to waste. She guides you through what she calls "mother recipes" that then can be varied and shaped to fit a particular flavor profile.  Take the bakery's famous crumbs, for example.  They are described as "...clumpy, crunchy, yet sandy little bits of flavor" made from powder that give the baked goods their distinct texture and flavor.  They show up in desserts like the pistachio layer cake, chocolate-chocolate cookies, banana cream pie, and more. 

On the same token, Tosi also has a knack for taking everyday ingredients and transforming them into something completely unexpected yet totally delicious. The pretzel ice cream pie made with pretzel crunch, butter, and pretzel ice cream, for instance. She says "it's an unobvious use for an obvious ingredient."

Tosi's approach to baking is to surprise, shock, and overall, push the boundaries. You would be hard pressed to turn away a freshly baked compost cookie.

corn cookies

makes 13 to 15 cookies

225 g butter, at room temperature OR 16 tablespoons (2 sticks)

300 g sugar OR 1 ½ cups

1 egg

225 g flour OR 11⁄3 cups

45 g corn flour OR ¼ cup

65 g freeze-dried corn powder OR 2⁄3 cup

3 g baking powder OR ¾ teaspoon

1.5 g baking soda OR ¼ teaspoon

6 g kosher salt OR 1 ½ teaspoons


1. Combine the butter and sugar 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, add the egg, and beat for 7 to 8 minutes.

2. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the flour, corn flour, corn powder, 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.

3. Using a 2 3/4-ounce 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—they will not bake properly.

4. Heat the oven to 350°F.

5. 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 18 minutes, they should be faintly browned on the edges yet still bright yellow in the center; give them an extra minute if not.

6. Cool the cookies completely on the sheet pans before transferring to a plate or to an airtight container for storage. At room temp, the cookies will keep fresh for 5 days; in the freezer, they will keep for 1 month.

Reprinted from Momofuku Milk Bar by Christina Tosi. Copyright (c) 2011 by Christina Tosi with Courtney Mcbroom. Photographs (c) 2011 by Gabriele Stabile and Mark Ibold.  With permission of the publisher, Clarkson Potter

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