For those who don't know, the Milk Bar is a dessert shop in New York with a menu developed by Christina Tosi. She is everything I love about baking. While growing up in a family of bakers, Tosi watched her grandmothers and taught herself the basics, then studied pastry at the French Culinary Institute in New York. She interned for Wylie Dufresne at wd~50 after walking into the restaurant and volunteering to work for free and through Dufresne, she met David Chang at Momofuku. She won him over with her layered pistachio pie and incredible cookies. She was only 27 years old when she and Chang opened Milk, the dessert side of Momofuku, which serves Candy Bar Pie, Crack Pie, Liquid Cheesecake, Cereal Milk soft serve ice cream, cake truffles, and some of the best goddamn cookies you will ever eat in your entire life.
I went to Milk three days in a row when I visited New York earlier this year and I've entertained the thought of having their Compost Cookies shipped to Seattle, despite the fact it would cost over $30 for six cookies after shipping charges, because I knew it wasn't just a matter of adding potato chips, pretzels, chocolate and butterscotch chips, oats, and ground coffee to any old cookie batter.
Tosi's cookies, even after they're baked, are buttery pucks of dough filled with candy, potato chips, dried blueberries, or whatever else she's decided to put in them. They're soft and gooey. In the book she admits to having a cookie dough problem, so it makes sense that even after they're baked her cookies would be cookies for people like me and her, people who love cookie dough more than they love baked cookies. And how does she get her cookies to be as wonderful as they are? The book finally reveals her secret: She creams the butter and sugar for 2-3 minutes, then she adds the eggs and BEATS THE BATTER FOR SEVEN MINUTES.
Go make a batch of cookies right now. Time yourself to see how long you beat the batter once you add the eggs. I promise you it is no more than 45 seconds. Maybe one minute. AND SHE DOES IT FOR SEVEN MINUTES. My brain exploded when I read that. It made me want to re-make every single cookie I have ever baked.
And that's just the start of the ideas and techniques she shares in the book. Even with all her knowledge and skill—which has no doubt earned her the right to be a pastry snob—she still has fun with her baking and uses ingredients like Ritz crackers, Skippy peanut butter, and Fruity Pebbles. (Baking with Fruity Pebbles is one of my favorite things to do!)
She pieces things together with whatever scraps are left in the fridge and she urges everyone else to do the same. Some cookies and cakes are really just happy accidents—delicious happy accidents. Not only does this book, and Tosi's approach to baking, make me want to try making everything on every single page, but it made me want to invent my own recipes. The best cookbooks are not just the books that show you how to do amazing things, but rather the books that inspire you to do your own amazing things. And that's exactly what Momofuku Milk Bar does.
The book is out today, and Christina Tosi will be at the Elliott Bay Book Company at 4 pm on October 31st. I will be there, probably holding up the signing line by asking her stupid questions like If I made the Cereal Milk ice cream with Cinnamon Toast Crunch would I have to alter the amount of sugar I add? and Do you think I'd be able to bake mini versions of your grasshopper pies into cupcakes or would the cheesecake filling be too sensitive to heat? Sorry in advance for holding up the line.