Monday, January 31, 2011

Momofuku Milk Bar NYC & Compost Cookie Recipe

Momofuku Milk Bar - Downtown
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.
Momofuku Milk Bar - Downtown
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 is working on her own book, due out soon recently released her own cookbook.) If you're feeling incredibly ambitious though, you could try the recipe for the pork buns. These consist of a meltingly (literally, it turns to liquid in your mouth) tender piece of pork belly, layered over fresh cucumber pickles, hoisin sauce and scallion greens on a sweet bun. I took this photo before I drizzled them with Sriracha, but that little bit of sweetness and heat balancing out the incredible richness of the pork in these buns is one of the best single mouthfuls of food I've experienced in recent memory. (To get the full effect, I recommend washing them down with a chilled can of Porkslap beer, available at the counter.)
Pork Buns at Momofuku Milk Bar
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.
Momofuku Ssam Bar wall
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!
Compost Cookies
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!


  1. Bummer, I just made a batch of boring old chocolate chip cookies. I should have read this sooner! Future reference . . . :)

  2. Yum! Your post really made me so hungry. I should better try your cookies since it is so mouth watering. Thanks for sharing the recipe too.

  3. Very nice, thanks for the information.

  4. This recipe seems to be great. Thanks for sharing this to us. I will probably make some of this for Chinese new year.

  5. Beautiful photos, I've been meaning to make that Crack Pie and when I'm finished drooling over your photo of it I'm heading to the kitchen to try and bake it !

  6. I really enjoyed visiting this website. Your photos are superb!

  7. What is the yield for this particular recipe? I'm the only one in our household who eats cookies, so don't want to tempt myself too much by making too many ;0)


  8. Courtney - so funny you should ask, I just made some last night and realized I was wondering the same thing myself! It really depends on how big you make them. I do six at a time on a baking sheet, and I think it makes about 3 dozen. I did 18 last night and have at least half the dough left. This time I used chopped up Reese's peanut butter egg candies, potato chips, pretzels, heath chips and chocolate chips. The dough was so good I almost didn't even bake the cookies!

  9. all i want is Milk Bar why does it have to be so far! your post made me so hungry for some crack pie and cookies! I didn't get any of the savories but will be sure to try those on my next visit!