I have a major crush on Momofuku Milk Bar. It all started the summer of 2010, when Bon Appetit released an issue featuring Christina Tosi’s mind-blowingly decadent chocolate malt cake with burnt marshmallows. Although a flavor combination that is impossible to disappoint, this cake caught my eye for a different reason: the layers. Tosi will not frost the sides of her cakes, and for good reason. She puts so much thought into each filling that it would be a shame to do so, and the result is a textural feast for the eyes. This is the sort of innovation she uses in all her creations, and it is what continually draws me to Milk Bar.
Not that I’ve been there yet. I mean, I’d love to go to NYC for many reasons, but if I had to choose one, it would be to sink my mouth into Milk Bar’s famous cereal milk soft serve. Yes, and if I had to choose one thing to eat before I die, it might be that too, because I have already considered a bowl of cereal as a potential candidate for the “last meal” question that is often thrown at food lovers. But, you can’t say “I’d have a heaping bowl of Grape Nuts Flakes, heavy on the milk” when you are a foodie. You’re expected to say something exotic, something like: “Why, I’d have cervelles au buerre noirper and a glass of chardonnay.” Hell, no! You are lying if you say that….unless you’re French. I may be a pretentious foodie at times, but I’m deeply aware of the fact that I will want nothing more than pure, unadulterated comfort food in my last moments. And, if I am to make my choice of cereal more foodie-friendly, I might just choose cereal milk ice cream, because it’s totally ingenious.
Luckily, if I never cross eating at Milk Bar off my imaginary bucket list, I have the cookbook. Next best thing, right? It’s a beautifully designed book with awesome photography that will make you want to lick each glossy page, and I won’t judge, but it might just be easier to whip out your baking equipment and start mixing. I’ve had the cookbook for about two years, and I’ve only recently attempted my hands at one of the desserts, which I will share in a minute. Be warned, though. Each of Tosi’s recipes contain sub-recipes, meaning that you will have to bake a lot of the ingredients before you begin to bake the actual recipe you set out to make in the first place. I love this because it means that Tosi is giving us the real deal, not some watered-down, home baker-friendly versions of her desserts. I was initially reluctant to try one of her recipes, not so much because of the amount time and work it takes, but because I was afraid to mess up. I didn’t want my first Milk Bar experience to be disappointing. And it was almost that, but only almost.
Introducing the chocolate chip, cornflake, marshmallow cookie. This is only one of a few of these cookies I baked that actually turned out visually appealing.
While this may look burnt (and I thought it was), it is really a fantastic cross between drop cookie and lace cookie.
It may be misshapen and homely, but I’ll be darned if that isn’t caramel formed at the edges of my cookie.
Simply put, the flavor is amazing. Probably one of the best cookies I’ve ever eaten. Sweet, salty, gooey, crunchy, and chewy. They have every texture and real depth in flavor. It is one of the less time consuming recipes in Tosi’s cookbook, but I still had to make one of the ingredients myself.
This is the ingredient that sets these cookies apart. See, my rant about cereal was not too digressive 🙂 Basically a mixture of crushed cornflakes, melted butter, milk powder, minimal sugar, and plenty of salt; this is like crunchy MSG. I wanted to eat all of the cornflake crunch and never make the cookies, it was so good. That would have been a major stomach ache, though. There is A LOT of butter. I almost considered pouring the extra cornflake crunch into a bowl the next morning and eating it like cereal, but I knew better.
Especially after eating too many of these babies:
The butter was a major/lovely issue. Major because I could not get the cookies to stop overspreading in the oven for the life of me. Lovely because they tasted damn good. After reading posts from other bloggers who made these cookies, I realized that everyone was having issues with Tosi’s prescribed baking time and temperature. Of course, I thought I would be the one to defy the issue by putting my pre-dropped dough balls in the fridge for an entire day before baking them, but I was wrong. Each batch was an experiment as I lowered the oven temp, tried putting the dough in the freezer, and baked them for shorter amounts of time. It wasn’t until my last batch that I just started to come upon the right method, but if I made these again (and I probably will), I think that there’s a lot I’d do differently.
For instance, Tosi describes the “correct” method of creaming butter and sugar as being a much longer process than most amateur bakers think. She devotes an entire page to her explanation, so there has to be some truth behind it. She recommends creaming the butter and sugar for about 3 minutes, and after the egg goes in, creaming it for another 7-8 minutes. That’s longer than I’ve ever mixed at that stage, but I followed her instructions to a T. I’m wondering now if the dough doesn’t need that much time to cream when you are making a single batch. Remember, Tosi has to make enough cookies to feed the hundreds of customers that come into Milk Bar each day. I can’t help but feel that, perhaps, it was too much mixing for my amount of dough. Next time I will experiment with mixing for a shorter amount of time.
I will also change the way I shape the dough balls before putting them in the fridge. In the cookbook, Tosi recommends using a 1/3 cup to measure out the dough, which is a perfect amount. I like to have bakery-sized cookies in my kitchen. She then instructs you to flatten the top of each dough ball. While I did this, my cookies still baked unevenly, with the edges melting outward while the tops puffed upwards. Next time I’m going to try shaping them similarly to the way hamburger meat is shaped: flatting the tops out, then pressing a small divot into the center. This should counteract the uneven baking time, I hope.
Despite these changes, the cookies are amazing, even if they overspread and darken too much at the edges. Still, I cannot help but aim for near aesthetic perfection. In case I’ve scared you away from braving this cookie madness, let me direct back up to the last photograph. And here’s another like it:
Heck yes. A web of gooey marshmallow strung between each cookie half. Now, imagine little pockets of melted chocolate in between crunchy cornflake MSG. The ultimate sweet and salty wrapped up in an over-sized cookie. The biggest thing to fear is eating three or four of these in one sitting. Which is entirely possible. Trust me.
Chocolate Chip, Cornflake, Marshmallow Cookies
* Here’s a small list of my suggested adaptations. That means, don’t take them too seriously. Experiment for yourself because it could just as well be the oven, room temp, and/or quality of ingredients that make one person’s batch turn out differently than another’s:
-Try mixing cookie dough for 4-5 minutes after adding egg instead of 7-8.
-Flat cookie dough balls with a little divot or thumbprint in the center before putting in fridge. This way, they have a better chance of baking evenly.
-Refrigerate cookie dough overnight.
-Bake one or two cookies before doing the whole batch to see if they turn out all right. Then, make adjustments as needed.
-Try lowering oven temp to 350 deg. if 375 is too much. Try reducing baking time from 18 min. to 12. Keep playing around and baking small batches.
Have fun playing around with this cookie dough! It may be a big pain in the butt the first time, but if you carefully record your findings down, you won’t have the same issues in the future 🙂
Here’s a link to the recipe. The recipe for cornflake crunch recipe is included: