21 February 2012

Momofuku Milk Bar: Milk Crumb Cookies

My mom recently won Christina Tosi's Momofuku Milk Bar cookbook in a gift exchange at work. I've been to the milk bar (the east village location) a number of times and tried many of their desserts, some of which I've loved (the blueberries and cream cookies, the cereal milk ice cream), and others of which I'd happily never eat again (the candy bar pie, the carrot cake truffles). That said, I was excited to flip through the book and discover the secrets behind Tosi's whimsical and beyond-decadent concoctions. Many of the recipes are - as you'd expect - far too rich, too intense, and too complicated to ever bother making. They include specialized equipment and bizarre ingredients (Alice Waters' thoughts: "It seems that they don't have real ingredients in their pantry...") that I'd imagine very few people already have on hand. That said, there are a few recipes that stand out as both highly do-able and reasonably healthy (ie they won't send you into cardiac arrest - at least not immediately).

I chose the blueberries and cream cookies as my first project. The recipe involves two steps: 1) making Tosi's 'milk crumbs', aka the 'cream', and 2) incorporating the crumbs into her more traditional cookie batter and baking them off. It's time-consuming but enjoyable (lots of tossing and incorporating and shaping with your hands) and I have to say - the cookies are absolutely worth it. I didn't have dried blueberries so I tried a few with dark chocolate, a few with dried cherries, and a few with crumbled toffee pieces. The toffee were my favorite, but my dad voted for the cherry and my grandmother for the chocolate. Regardless, all turned out beautifully: crispy on the edges, soft and chewy in the center, and both smelling and tasting like rich, buttery heaven. The milk crumbs make all the difference.  Biting into one is a little like biting into the lightest, sweetest and most textured cookie dough you've ever tasted in your life. Though the cookie recipe only requires half the recipe of crumbs, I'd suggest making the entire batch. They freeze well, can be incorporated into any cookie batter, and are a completely irresistible snack while you wait for the cookie dough to chill.

16 tbsp butter, room temperature
3/4 cup granulated sugar
2/3 cup light brown sugar
2 tbsp corn syrup
2 eggs
2 cups flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 tsp salt
1/2 recipe milk crumbs
3/4 cup dried blueberries (or chocolate chips / toffee / dried cherries etc)

milk crumbs:
1/2 cup dry milk powder
1/4 cup flour
2 tbsp cornstarch
2 tbsp sugar
1/2 tsp salt
4 tbsp butter, melted
1/4 cup dry milk powder
3 oz white chocolate, melted

for milk crumbs:
preheat oven to 250 degrees
combine first five ingredients and toss together with hands
add melted butter and toss with a spatula until mixture comes together and forms small clusters
spread clusters on parchment paper and bake 20 minutes
crumble any clusters larger than 1/2 inch in diameter
Add remaining milk powder and stir until crumbs are coated
Add melted chocolate and toss to coat
Store in an airtight container in the fridge, or freeze for up to one month

for cookies:
combine first four ingredients and beat with an electric mixer/hand mixer for 2-3 minutes
add eggs, beat 7-8 minutes (batter will become significantly lighter and fluffier)
add flour, baking powder/soda, and salt with mixer on low speed - mix until just combined
add crumbs, mix another 30 seconds
add dried blueberries
portion out dough onto parchment/silpat-lined baking sheets,
and chill at least one hour and up to one week (will NOT bake correctly if not chilled)
preheat oven to 350 degrees
arrange dough a minimum of 3 inches apart and bake 14-18 minutes (depending on how big you make your cookies - you want them to be faintly brown on the edges but still bright yellow in the center)
cool completely on sheet pans before transferring
will keep fresh for about 1 week, or freeze up to 1 month

15 - 30 cookies, depending on how large you want to make them


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