I'm going to go out on a limb here and say that it is un-possible to pass by one of Milk Bar's four New York locations or read one of Pastry Chef Christina Tosi's recipes online and not feel an immediate sugar craving. Just opening this cookbook gave me a sugar rush.
Within these pages, Tosi breaks down how she makes all her now-famous recipes. Crack pie is here. Compost cookies are here. Her cakes and tarts and magic-seeming garnishes: yup, all here. You're going to love this cookbook.
For those of you who may not yet have heard of Christina Tosi and Momofuku Milk Bar, let me set the scene for you. Tosi started off her baking career working summers at a conference center on Star Island. After attending the French Culinary Institute, she externed at Bouley, interned at Saveur magazine, and eventually landed at wd-50. It was intense. While on a break from baking, she started doing paperwork for David Chang at his fledgling Momofuku restaurant. Chang, in turn, pushed her back into the pastry kitchen and Momofuku Milk Bar came to be.
How's that for a resume?
The flavors of Tosi's desserts are familiar and intimate to our dearest childhood memories, but she gives them a twist that makes them gourmet. That's how we get things like corn cookies that remind us of slightly sweet and crunchy cornflakes on Saturday morning, red velvet ice cream made with chocolate cake scraps, and saltine panna cotta with grape jelly and peanut butter crunch.
The Milk Bar cookbook is divided into Tosi's "mother" recipes, a wink-and-a-nod to the traditional French mother sauces. Instead of bechamel and hollandaise, Tosi's master recipes are for cereal milk, crunch, crumb, graham crust, fudge sauce, liquid cheesecake, nut brittle, nut crunch, ganache, and mother dough. These basic recipes can be re-created with infinite variation and they form the building blocks for all of Milk Bar's recipes.
You'd think that no one without a professional pastry degree would be able to make these recipes. But sit down with this cookbook, give it a good read, and you'll find - as I did - that the recipes are remarkably doable in a home kitchen. Tosi gives plenty of guidance with each recipe, telling us exactly how to do a tricky step or where to find an unusual ingredient.
Yes, the recipes often have a lot of steps and require a time commitment. You have to pay attention to what you're doing. You have to come prepared with the right ingredients. But you can certainly serve a cinnamon bun pie or a guava sorbet with liquid cheese cake skin at your next dinner party.
And trust me, after flipping through the pages of this cookbook, you will want to.
Note from The Kitchn: The chefs at Milk Bar make freeze-dried corn powder by grinding freeze-dried corn. You can find freeze-dried corn at Whole Foods, Amazon.com, or JustTomatoes.com. Store leftover powder in an airtight container so it won't absorb moisture.
225 g butter, at room temperature OR 16 tablespoons (2 sticks) 300 g sugar OR 1 1/2 cups 1 egg 225 g flour OR 1 1/3 cups 45 g corn flour OR 1/4 cup 65 g freeze-dried corn powder OR 2/3 cup 3 g baking powder OR 3/4 teaspoon 1.5 g baking soda OR 1/4 teaspoon 6 g kosher salt OR 1 1/2 teaspoons
1. Combine the butter and sugar 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 beat for 7 to 8 minutes.
2. Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the flour, corn flour, corn powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Mix just until the dough comes together, no longer than 1 minute. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
3. Using a 2 3/4-ounce 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.
4. Heat the oven to 350°F.
5. 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 faintly browned on the edges yet still bright yellow in the center; give them an extra minute if not.
6. Cool the cookies completely on the sheet pans before transferring to a plate or to an airtight container for storage. At room temp, the cookies will keep fresh for 5 days; in the freezer, they will keep for 1 month.
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