From the Milk Bar cookbook: Corn Cookies

I bought three cookies from Milk Bar on my lone stop to the bakery. I ate the Compost and the Cornflake Chocolate Chip Marshmallow cookies while still in NYC, the Corn Cookie made it back home with me to Manila. I still remember the taste of it, like a flattened Kenny Roger’s corn muffin in cookie form. I also remember my disappointment when I saw the recipe for it in the Milk Bar cookbook. It required freeze dried corn powder, something that is not available commercially in Manila.

When I found out my friend P was going to NYC, I took the chance and asked her to buy some of the corn powder for me. She delivered and came back with three bottles of my baking holy grail:

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Naturally, I made the corn cookies right away.

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My first batch were fine, but not great. They did corn-y enough, and they dried out too quickly. I think it may have been because I only used fine cornmeal, instead of cornflour (which is super fine cornmeal). I also didn’t pack in the corn powder when I measured it and it’s apparently very prone to fluffing up.

I took a different approach for my second attempt. I got a scale for my birthday (finally! Yay!), so I weighed my ingredients instead of measuring by volume. I also nixed the cornmeal and used Christina Tosi’s recommended substitution: a mixture of flour and more corn powder. The result was a significantly cornier cookie and one that didn’t become a coarse, dry mess a day after baking. It was definitely a lot closer to the one I so carefully hand carried home from NYC.

I still need to tweak some things a bit to try an get my version as moist as the original, which was closer to a Chips Ahoy! Chewy cookie in texture. If I never get to match that, though, I wouldn’t be too disappointed. Judging from how quickly my second batch was consumed, the current version is close enough.

PS: P, if you’re reading this, I still owe you cookies as a thank you for getting me the powder! ūüôā

From Milk: Cornflake-Chocolate Chip-Marshmallow Cookie

I was finally able to make something from the Momofuku Milk Bar cookbook this weekend. I’ve been putting it off for a few reasons. For one, I haven’t had the time to chase after the tricky ingredients I’ve ranted about in this post. For another, there’s something daunting and intimidating about trying to make and replicate something you’ve had from an iconic New York bakery. Who do I think I am, trying to make something Christina Tosi herself created? I knew I was going to be crushed if things did not turn out well (and yes, these are things I obsess about. Don’t judge.).

But I have to at least try, no? And so, try I did.

The recipe I tried out was the Cornflake-Chocolate Chip-Marshmallow Cookie. No weird ingredients needed in this one, although it is one of those many recipe within a recipe things in the book. To make this cookie, you need to make Cornflake Crunch, basically a mixture of cornflakes, milk powder, butter, salt and sugar, baked to a crispy perfection. Although the cookie recipe only requires 3/4 of the crunch recipe, make the whole recipe. If you’re human at all, you will be snacking on this, and, like me, will leave barely enough to meet the 3-cup requirement for the cookies.

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Christina Tosi recommends using a #16 ice cream scoop or a 1/3 cup measure to make the cookies. I didn’t have the scoop, so I used the latter, and my cookies turned out HUGE, some of them almost the size of a saucer. I was only able to bake three at a time on my cookie sheets. I just Googled the #16 ice cream scoop, and it turns out that its equivalent is 4 tbsps or 1/4 cup. So I will definitely use that the next time I make these.

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The cookies are actually on a full-sized plate here.

But bigger cookies are not exactly a bad thing when it comes to these ( and maybe for any cookie for that matter), because they are a marvel. They are crispy, as in thin and crispy, in the edges but gooey, chewy and sticky in the center. I don’t know if it’s Christina’s 10-minute creaming method, or the marshmallows or both, but the contrast of the textures is really something else.

Also something else? The way the cookie tastes. Imagine if you will, a chocolate chip cookie injected with the toasty caramelly-ness of roasted marshmallows, with bursts of the sweet-salty crispiness of the cornflake crunch. It may not be a classic combination, but it’s fantastic nonetheless.

And so while there some things that I didn’t get quite right to perfectly match the Cornflake-Chocolate Chip-Marshmallow cookies I had last September (for instance, I think mine spread a little too much), I think these turned out quite well. I am so glad I didn’t mess them up. Whew. And, yey!

So I guess Compost Cookies are next? Then, maybe (gasp!) Crack Pie?

I love/hate you, Christina Tosi

I love Momofuku Milk Bar. During my trip to NYC, I visited the East Village store and wanted to just camp out there. I think I got decision anxiety trying to choose which cookies to get (corn, compost and cornflake marshmallow), deciding on how many slices of Crack Pie I can actually eat without passing out in a sugar coma (I didn’t want to risk it, so, one) and if I could still have Cereal Milk soft serve ice cream after the Salty Pimp I just had from my previous stop at Big Gay Ice Cream (alas, no). I wanted to try EVERYTHING. But obviously that (and setting up a tent on the sidewalk) wasn’t an option so I had to be content with¬† my purchases.

And I loved them ALL. So, as you can imagine, I loved the cookbook, too, which I got for Christmas from one of my best friends.

Apart from the recipes (we’ll get to that later), I find Christina, her story and her approach to baking fascinating. She went from working on Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (or HACCP) plans for New York restaurants, to working as part of the “etc.” of Momofuku (no kitchen work involved). And then one night, after tasting another one of the home baked goodies Christina brought to work with her, David Chang asked ordered her to make something for dinner service at Ss√§m. And the rest is sweet delicious history.

Reading about how the now-iconic recipes came to be, about the goings-on at the Milk Bar kitchen is quite fun, too. For instance, I find the fact that Marian Mar measures the Milk Bar cake layers by the gram amazing and also quite disconcerting. I also think it’s pretty cool that the Cornflake Marshmallow Chocolate Chip cookies was a result of over toasted cornflake crunch for the cereal milk pana cotta at Ko.

But. BUT. Uggggh.

Glucose. Freeze dried corn. Freeze dried corn powder. Pectin NH. Gelatin sheets. Clear vanilla extract.

Where the heck can I find these things in Manila?

No, it’s enough that these recipes are some of the most specific, most labor-intensive recipes I’ve ever seen. Christina has a 10 minute creaming method, has non-negotiable ingredients, has recipes within recipes within recipes and wants me to make my own Concord grape juice (must add Concord grapes to the list of impossible-to-find items).

Uggggh. Sad face.

Realistically speaking, the glucose is probably available in Manila, the gelatin sheets, too, if I try really hard. But freeze-dried corn powder?!?!?!

And the heartbreaking thing is that you need the freeze dried corn powder to make Crack Pie.

I. CAN’T. MAKE. CRACK. PIE.

*cue temper tantrum that would make a four year old proud*

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Why are you doing this to me, Christina Tosi? Why make a cookbook that only people who own/live beside a specialty baking store and Concord grape farm can cook from? Whyyyyyyy?

*resume temper tantrum*

 

Temper tantrum aside, any leads on where I can get those hard to find ingredients? Fellow home bakers, Crack Pie addicts, help please! I need my Crack (Pie)!

NYC food post #4: Everything else

As much as I would like to write a post for each of the wonderful foods I’ve discovered in NYC, I can’t. I’m running out of ways to say “delicious”. Plus I always end up craving for something to eat after I write these posts, and I can’t afford five or six more unnecessary snacks. Not that all these awesome foods don’t deserve their own posts, they do. But I don’t want to gain more weight than I’ve already had eating them.

So here you go. All the other awesome things I’ve had in NYC:

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I read about City Bakery’s Pretzel Croissant on David Lebovitz’s blog, where he said he would haul back these babies to Paris if he could. The man is a pastry chef. Living in France. Land of Croissants. If he wants to bring these home to Paris, then they must be good. And they are. The contrast between that full-on saltiness of pretzels against the delicate buttery-ness of the croissant is fantastic.

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One of the reasons I love breakfast is that you could pass off what is essentially dessert as your main meal. When else can I justify having two doughnuts from Doughnut Plant as an actual meal? Well, ok, more like one and a quarter. I could only managed two bites out of the famous Tres Leches after eating an entire Blackout doughnut. The latter, cake based and filled with chocolate creme in the middle, was my favorite of the two. Somehow, DP managed to make something with four forms of chocolate on it (cake, cookie crumb, icing and creme) not to be overpoweringly sweet or chocolatey (although some might argue there’s not such thing as too chocolatey). In comparison, the Tres Leches was just a tad to sweet for me.

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And what’s NYC without brunch? For Labor Day, I had brunch with my cousin at the Tribeca outpost of Sarabeth’s. And true to my desserts-for-breakfast mantra, I skipped the Eggs Benedict and went for the Lemon Ricotta Pancakes. They were perfectly light and fluffy, although I did wish that they were just a tiny bit more heavy-handed with the lemon. The side of blackberries was a nice touch to cut the richness from the combination of carbs, butter and maple syrup.

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Sandwiches are usually composed of bread, meat and some sort of condiment or vegetable. Bread and just meat sounds… lacking. But at Porchetta, that’s all there is to their Porchetta sandwich. Bread and pork. I don’t think they even buttered the bread. But in no way was the sandwich lacking. The pork was so flavorful, it tasted like the European cousin of Cebu lechon (and in my book, that’s high praise). And when the meat’s that good, you don’t need much else. Heck, you don’t even need the bread.
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I remember watching a special on Danny Meyer around the time the first Shake Shack first opened and thinking “I want to eat there.” I finally got to chance to do that this trip. Was it the best burger I’ve ever had? I will probably get killed for this, but I will still give the #1 spot to Manila’s very own Charlie’s (blasphemous, I kn0w). That being said, the Shake Shack burger was still VERY good, although the fries did seem like they were just an afterthought. Next time I go back, I’d skip the fries and replace the calories with the liquid kind and try one of their shakes.
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Meeting and surpassing all expectations, though, was Hill Country Barbecue Market, which I first read about on Man Eat Manila. I had a tough time choosing what to get (one of the cons of traveling and eating alone: you can’t order different things to share), but finally decided on the moist brisket. And, gaaaaah, I’m already salivating at the thought of it. The brisket, glistening with fat, was ridiculously flavorful. It’s amazing on its own, but you can also drizzle some of Hill Country’s “If You Gotta Have It” Barbecue Sauce, which is pretty awesome, too. I was trying to decide whether I liked it with or without sauce, but finished all the brisket before I could come to a decision.

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My cousin can’t understand how I can eat an entire slice of Momofuku Milk Bar’s Crack Pie in two minutes one sitting. What I don’t understand is how you can’t. It is called Crack Pie for a reason. Once you get your hands on it, you consume as much of it as you can. Which explains why I didn’t get a photo of the actual pie. By the time I remembered to take a photo, there was very little pie to take a photo of. It really is THAT good. It’s like a pecan pie, without the pecans. All you have is the crust and that sweet, creamy, sticky filling. It’s probably your dentist’s and your trainer’s worst nightmare, but it’s crack and you just have to have it.

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And there you have it, the last of my NYC food posts. It was partly fun, partly tortuous to remember all the good food that I had, and then be struck with the realization that I have to fly thousands of miles (not to mention spend all that money) to have a taste of them again. Boooooooo. So if you’re lucky enough to live in/be visiting NYC, eat up, okay? And then go and torture tell me all about it.