Shortcut: Milk Bar Cookie Mixes
When I got my hands on a copy of the gorgeous Momofuku Milk Bar cookbook a few months ago, I wanted to dive in right away and bake some of my favorite cookies from the original East Village shop. But I’ll admit: I was intimidated by a few of the ingredients and the multiple components involved, so I never got around to it.
Fortunately for me and my fellow lazy bakers, there’s now an easier way to get Milk Bar goodness at home. Boxed mixes for some of pastry chef Christina Tosi’s most popular cookies recently hit the shelves at Williams-Sonoma.
“I started baking with cookie and cake mixes, before I branched out into making my own recipes, so having a line of cookie mixes has always been near and dear to my start as a home baker,” explains Christina. It took “months and months” of testing to get the mixes just right, and as a result, the Compost cookies I made at home tasted pretty spot-on. Williams-Sonoma is also stocking Blueberry & Cream and Corn cookie mixes, which a couple of my fellow Cooking Channel colleagues tested out.
Baking up these pricey ($16 a box) treats is still quite a bit more involved than your average dump-and-stir cookie mix, but the instructions are clear and specific. First and foremost, make sure you have plenty of butter (9 tablespoons!) on hand before setting out to bake.
“You MUST use quality unsalted butter — that's half the secret to a delicious baked good,” Christina advises. I used Land O' Lakes because that’s what I had in the fridge, and while it may not be as fancy as Plugra (Christina’s recommendation), my Compost cookies were still pretty darn delicious. We found the Blueberry & Cream cookies to taste extremely buttery — almost too much so, if that’s possible. Our Corn cookie tester hoped for more corn flavor — hers came out slightly sweeter than the bakery version, more like a sugar cookie.
If you go for Compost, learn from my oversight and read the box clearly, as it specifies that “your own” potato chips and pretzels are needed to round out this sweet-salty cookie. I thought the crushed-up snacks were all inside the cute little package. I happened to have some chips on hand but no pretzels, so my cookies were a little extra potato chip-y.
Refrigerating the balls of cookie dough for at least an hour (or up to a week) is crucial, according to Christina. This, along with her signature 10-minute process for creaming the butter, sugars and egg, “will give your cookie a great body and texture beyond what you ever knew possible.”
I followed the baking instructions to the letter, arranging nine balls of refrigerated cookie dough on two spacious cookie sheets and placing them on racks in the upper third and lower third of the oven, then switching halfway through the bake time. My cookies came out perfectly crisp and browned around the edges and slightly under-baked in the middle, just like the direction card said they would.
At $16 for just nine cookies — plus that good-quality butter and your own potato chips and pretzels — the Compost mix ends up being more expensive per cookie than buying them at the bakery (three cookies for $5). But if you don’t have easy access to the New York-based Milk Bar outposts, it’s worth the splurge for a taste of Christina Tosi and David Chang’s whimsical and entirely unique bakery. The mixes, with their fun, colorful packaging, would also make great gifts.
Hoping for more shortcut Milk Bar treats, we asked Christina what’s next up her sleeve. “There will always be talk of Crack Pie mix!” she says, referring to the cult favorite featured on Unique Eats. If you’re ambitious enough to work from scratch, we’ve got the recipe. Now that I’ve tackled the Momofuku method of baking from a box, I think I’m ready to take a crack at it.