Baking from the Momofuku Milk Bar Cookbook


One of my favorite things about being an editor at Brooklyn Based is all the great books I get to take a peak at before they hit the shelves. This month the nice folks at Clasrkson Potter sent us a copy of Momofuku Milk Bar, which came out yesterday. The secret recipes behind Milk Bar‘s crazily sweet, wacky confections kept me in the kitchen all weekend.

Let me start off by saying that once upon a time I worked as a baker. I have a Kitchenaid standing mixer and I find baking relaxing and fun, so long as there’s not a time crunch. And I think that anyone who can follow a baking recipe can make pretty much anything in this book. There’s no spun sugar or fancy piping or tempering.

However. Almost every recipe requires that standing mixer. And, nearly every recipe is the combination of two or more smaller recipes. And I’m not talking cake and frosting. It’s making a special Momofuku component, like cornflake crunch or fruity crumbs, then using that as part of a cake recipe and then filling and then frosting and then another crunch to add to the top. Or the candy bar pie–which I will make, someday soon–it is no fewer than four recipes, including a crust, a caramel, a nougat and a ganache-type situation.

So you have to have patience, endurance and an ability to follow the directions. Author and Milk Bar head baker Christina Tosi has some serious insights into all things sugar and butter based, and reading about the way she developed many of these recipes is worth the price of admission. Do be warned that the Momofuku palate is super, super sweet. These recipes are bursting with flavor, if not subtlety.

And, yes, there is a recipe for Crack Pie, which is actually one of the simplest in the book.

Want to win a copy of Momofuku Milk Bar so you can make all these treats yourself? Tweet your favorite cookie, whether it’s plain old chocolate chip or some crazy combination, to @brooklynbased and we’ll enter you in the drawing. Winner announced at noon on Friday.

I chose to make cookies though, because they’re one of my favorite things in the world, and because you can freeze cookie dough balls and then just bake them off a couple at a time, rather than gorging yourself on a whole batch of cookies. With cookie dough balls in the freezer you can pop four or six into the oven when someone comes over and seem like the best host ever. Or, be ready to bring a dinner party treat at a moment’s notice. They’re also really practical for Milk Bar recipes, which require that you chill the dough at least an hour before baking and take longer to put together than your average cookie.

If you’re going to bake from this book on any regular basis it will change your pantry, probably. You may have flour, sugar, brown sugar, baking powder and soda, butter and eggs already. You probably do not have corn syrup, milk powder (like MSG for bakers, says Tosi), and many of the other special ingredients needed for a given recipe. I left the grocery store with dried blueberries, white chocolate chips, mini chocolate chips, cornflakes and mini-marshmallows, in addition to pretty much all the regular pantry ingredients listed above, thanks to a hideous moth problem earlier this summer.

The two cookie recipes I tested, Blueberries and Cream, and Cornflake, Marshmallow, Chocolate Chip came out super well. Both require pre-making a component, Milk Crumb for the blueberry and Cornflake Crunch for the others. Yeah, it was time-consuming. But like I said, I enjoy a kitchen project. And each cookie recipe only took about half of the other recipe, so now I have quart containers of crumb and crunch in the cupboard, ready for the next time I bake.

A final note: Make sure to bake on parchment or silpat. You cannot be lazy with these recipes, as they are super full of sugar, fat and other gooey stuff that sticks to things like baking sheets. And let them cool before picking them up. Otherwise they will just fall apart and they are designed to be soft and chewy at room temperature.

The cornflake cookies were crunchy, salty and sweet, though I had to adjust the baking temperature down to 350 degrees from the suggested 375 degrees, so that the marshmallows wouldn’t seep out and burn. That, though, is a function of my extremely crappy oven. Use an oven thermometer to avoid this fate.

The blueberry cookies though, really are something special. In the book Tosi compares them to the top of a blueberry muffin, and yeah, that’s right on, but more so. It’s like the top of a blueberry muffin with a way better texture. It’s like a blueberry muffin, not even on crack–on angel dust, picking up cars and stopping bullets. Got an idea for PCP Pie, anyone?

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