How do you learn a new skill? What is your starting point?
These days, I think most of us start with an online search. I try to see what learning tools are available (books, free online guides, videos) and then investigate who is a leader in the field. This type of search sometimes takes me down the proverbial rabbit hole but I’m usually able to find my way out. Before I started this blog, I did not realize just how many talented people baked and developed recipes. There are countless people to learn and be inspired from so at some point, it is a matter of choosing who to follow, who consistently provides great advice and recipes.
I’ve always experimented in my kitchen but I think there is a balance between experimenting and using tried and true recipes. If you’ve been following me along on my baking journey, you’ll have noticed that I post recipes from leaders in the baking and pâtisserie field as well as sharing some of my own recipes. This is all part of learning and practicing.
A leader in the industry is Christini Tosi. Her training and experiments in the kitchen have led to the incredibly successful, Milk Bar as well as the accompanying Momofuku Milk Bar book. Her recipes explore a full range of elements including the addition of potato chips, coffee grounds and unusual ingredient combinations. The recipes are well written but complicated, requiring several steps to reach the final product (but always worth the effort). As a chef and someone aware of budgeting, few items go to waste as there is always something else that it could be added to. Part of the joy of following her journey is that she’s incredibly witty and open about her background as well as her love of eating raw cookie dough. It goes without saying that she’s driven and an extremely hard worker having coined the term “real talk” and “hardbody” in her kitchen.
While I cannot choose a favourite recipe from Milk Bar, I do know that the Compost Cookie comes out on top for many people. Also, lovingly referred to as the “garbage cookie” or “kitchen-sink cookie”, as the name suggests, it features a little bit of everything. There are multiple steps to the recipe so it is neither easy nor quick to make. However, your effort and careful following of the instructions will lead to a very satisfying cookie. Try it for yourself!
Makes: 15-20 large cookies
Time: Prep time (1 hour) + resting time (1 hour) + baking time (18 minutes per batch)
225 g (16 tablespoons) butter, at room temperature
200 g (1 cup) granulated sugar
150 g (2⁄3 cup tightly packed) light brown sugar
50 g (2 tbs) glucose
2 g (1/2 tsp) vanilla extract
225 g (1 1⁄3 cups) flour
2 g (1/2 tsp) baking powder
1.5 g (1/4 tsp) baking soda
4 g (1 tsp) kosher salt
150 g (3/4 cup) mini chocolate chips
100 g (1/2 cup) mini butterscotch chips
1/4 recipe (1/2 cup) graham crust (recipe below)
40 g (1⁄3 cup) old-fashioned rolled oats
5 g (2 1/2 tsp) ground coffee
50 g (2 cups) potato chips
50 g (1 cup) mini pretzels
190 g (1 1/2 cups) graham cracker crumbs20 g (1/4 cup) milk powder
25 g (2 tbs) sugar
3 g (3/4 tsp) kosher salt
55 g (4 tbs) butter, melted, or as needed
55 g (1/4 cup) heavy cream
1. Combine the butter, sugars, and glucose 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 vanilla, and beat for 7 to 8 minutes.
2. 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. (do not walk away from the machine during this step, or you will risk over mixing the dough.) Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula.
3. Still on low speed, add the chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, graham crust, oats, and coffee and mix just until incorporated, about 30 seconds. Add the potato chips and pretzels and paddle, still on low speed, until just incorporated. Be careful not to over mix or break too many of the pretzels or potato chips
4. 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— they will not bake properly.
5. Heat the oven to 375°F (190°C).*
6. 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 very faintly browned on the edges yet still bright yellow in the center. Give them an extra minute or so if that’s not the case.
7. 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.
In a pinch, substitute 18 g (1 tablespoon) corn syrup for the glucose. For the “coffee grounds” in this cookie, we tested the recipe with freshly roasted and ground artisanal coffee from Stumptown as well as with crap-tastic coffee grounds that you can find just about anywhere. We discovered that it doesn’t make a difference what kind you use; the cookie is delicious every time. Just make sure you don’t use instant coffee; it will dissolve in the baking process and ruin the cookies. and, above all else, never use wet, sogalicious grounds that have already brewed a pot of coffee. We use cape cod potato chips because they aren’t paper-thin, and so they do not break down too much in the mixing process.
Makes: 2 cups
1. Toss the graham crumbs, milk powder, sugar, and salt with your hands in a medium bowl to evenly distribute your dry ingredients.
2. Whisk the butter and heavy cream together. add to the dry ingredients and toss again to evenly distribute. the butter will act as glue, adhering to the dry ingredients and turning the mixture into a bunch of small clusters. the mixture should hold its shape if squeezed tightly in the palm of your hand. If it is not moist enough to do so, melt an additional 14 to 25 g (1 to 1½ table- spoons) butter and mix it in.
3. Eat immediately, or deploy as directed in a recipe. The crust is easiest to mold just after mixing. Stored in an airtight container, graham crust will keep fresh for 1 week at room temperature or for 1 month in the fridge or freezer.
Enjoy with a large glass of milk or with ice cream!
* My oven is hot so I reduced the temperature to 350°F (176°C).
** Check your cookies after 15 minutes as they may have cooked more quickly than expected.