Can we pretend it's last Friday? Because that's when this was supposed to be posted. A last New York post to go along with Wednesday's list of comparable delights in San Diego. I can confidently say there is nothing comparable to Momofuku or the Milk Bar in San Diego, but that's why we travel, no? The good news is that even if you can't visit the Momofuku family in NYC, David Chang is generous with his recipes and the intrepid cook can recreate many of his dishes at home. His cookbook is not quick or easy, but it's a good read nonetheless.
I myself have baked several batches of the famous "Compost Cookies" - so named because they're full of odds and ends including coffee grounds, potato chips and candy. The crack pie recipe is also floating around out there, here in fact. (Note that these recipes are not in the Momofuku cookbook - pastry chef Christina Tosi
The photos above were taken at the Second Avenue Milk Bar - the original location next to Momofuku Ssam Bar. The uptown location I mentioned earlier does not offer the pork buns or beer - but focuses solely on the sweets. Both offer at least two flavors of the famous soft serves including unusual seasonal flavors like plum, lemon verbena, french toast, donut, cereal milk, carrot cake, red velvet, etc. I tried the dulce de leche at the East Village location - it had a wonderful velvety texture and tasted just like salted caramel.
The Crack Pie - a thin, superrich layer of sugar and butter baked over an oatmeal crust - is available at both locations both as a whole pie and packaged individual slices. I bought several of the boxed slices to take home and distribute as gifts. I also bought a few slices of their grasshopper and candy bar pies, but found them disappointing. I didn't try the cakes since they are sold whole - but their "cake truffles" made from scraps are sold three to a package - I especially liked the malted chocolate. Overall, I liked the concept and the adventurous spirit of the place as much or more than some of the offerings.
Since my visit to the East Village shop was on the day I flew home, I picked up a few of the savory creations - a reuben croissant stuffed with corned beef, cabbage and swiss cheese, and another stuffed with kim chi and bleu cheese - and took them home (I packed them in the thermal bag with my smoked salmon from Russ and Daughters.) We had them for dinner the next night - warmed to melt the cheese - alongside a salad, and I was glad I'd gone to the trouble to schlep them home. Ironically though, I discovered I like the Compost Cookies that I make at home better than the ones from the bakery. I use the recipe below, which I adapted from the one on Adam's blog The Amateur Gourmet. Enjoy!
Momofuku Milk Bar Compost Cookies
adapted from Christina Tosi's recipe as it appeared on Regis & Kelly's website and The Amateur Gourmet
1 cup butter (two sticks) unsalted, soft at room temperature.
1 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup light brown sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs at room temperature
2 cups all purpose flour
2 tsps baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsps Kosher salt
1 cup chocolate chips
2 cups of sweet baking ingredients - such as chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, heath toffee chips, peanut butter chips, chopped candy, etc. (after much experimenting, my favorite combo is 1 cup dark chocolate chips and 1/2 cup each of heath chips and chopped peanut butter cups or peanut butter chips)
1.5 cups coarsely chopped salty snack foods, such as pretzels, potato chips, crisp rice cereal, etc.
1. Place the butter, sugar and salt in a stand mixer with the paddle attachment. Beat on high for two to three minutes until well blended, scraping the bowl down as needed. While this is happening, stir together the baking powder, baking soda and flour.
2. Lower the speed and add the eggs and vanilla to the butter mixture, beating to combine. Then set a timer for ten minutes and turn the mixer up to medium-high speed. Do your nails, wash the dishes, whatever you want. During this time the mixture will lighten significantly in color and double in volume and the sugar will dissolve completely. (Do NOT skimp on the time, even if it looks like this has already happened. Trust me.)
3. When the timer goes off, lower the speed and gradually add the flour mixture. Stir by hand or blend on low speed just until no traces of flour remain, about 20 seconds.
4. Stir in your chopped candy and snack foods and stir in by hand or blend a couple of spins on low speed - just long to distribute them through the dough.
5. Chill the dough for at least one hour in the refrigerator or freezer before baking. (To speed this process, you can scoop the dough onto a parchment lined cookie sheet and place the sheets in the freezer or fridge until well chilled.)
6. To bake, preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Scoop 1.5 inch balls of chilled dough onto a cookie sheet lined with parchment (I think it works better than Silpats for these cookies) and bake for about 9-12 minutes. They will crackle and puff in the middle. Take them out just when they no longer look raw in the middle and the edges are nice and brown. They will flatten and continue to brown outside the oven. (You may have to experiment with the first batch, if they are browning too fast, turn the oven down to 350 and bake a bit longer.)
7. Try not to eat the entire batch in one sitting!