This Forgotten Pantry Ingredient Makes Chocolate Chip Cookies 100x Better

published May 25, 2023
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Photograph of brown butter chocolate chip cookies on white parchment paper.

Sometimes you try a cookie that just … tastes better. Is it the oven temperature? Flour type? Chocolate chip-to-dough ratio? Rather than stay awake at night tossing and turning over the Mystery of the Perfect Cookie, allow us to let you in on the secret to deeply flavorful, richly satisfying homemade desserts — courtesy of self-taught pastry chef and the author of Bake it Better, @mattadlard

According to Adlard’s recent Instagram Reel, the key to out-of-this-world cookies is a simple, shelf-stable ingredient that you can easily store in your pantry amongst your other baking go-tos: toasted skim milk powder. This humble, too-often forgotten ingredient is true to its name, formulated from real milk into a dry, long-lasting powder that is easily soluble to make liquid milk. 

Bakers like Adlard opt for milk powder for its “deep, caramelized flavor” when toasted, he notes. “It’s like brown butter, but supercharged — and it takes your cookie to the next level,” he adds. It’s an affordable, low-lift add-on that’s also favored by famed Milk Bar dessert expert Christina Tosi, who endorses using milk powder as a way to make “those dark vanilla notes of a chocolate chip cookie taste more magical.”

How to Use Milk Powder in Cookies 

You’ll be able to find Adlard’s official recipe in his upcoming cookbook. But until then, you can start adding milk powder following this general cookie game plan. 

  1. Brown some butter. If it’s your first go, check out our guide on how to brown butter!
  2. Toast the milk powder. While your butter cools, bake your milk powder until golden-brown (Adlard suggests using skim milk powder versus nonfat), and let that cool while you mix together your butter, sugar and eggs in a stand mixer.
  3. Add the toasted milk powder with your dry ingredients. Add the chocolate chips or chunks last. 
  4. Chill the dough for at least two hours. It’ll intensify the caramelized, nutty flavor.

The most important step? “Eat them warm,” says Adlard of the irresistibly chewy, gooey treats.  

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