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Hello!

Thank you for the amazing 8 years here at A Baked Creation, we can't thank you enough for the memories! But we've decided to move over to a new site - Sincerely, Syl. Please join us there for future posts on all the things you loved here!

Sincerely,
Syl

Monday, October 24, 2011

Momofuku Milk Bar

Written by Christina Tosi
Foreword by David Chang
ISBN 13: 9780307720498
ISBN 10: 0307720497
Hardcover: 256 pages
Publisher: Clarkson Potter

Momofuku Milk Bar follows a similar look as the Momofuku book, making it an obvious companion. It is a book that appears clear, simple, and effortless. Momofuku only featured the fried apple pie, which Christina Tosi explains was the main dessert she first wanted to finalize when they started out. Now, Tosi shares the much loved cereal milk, cookies, cakes, pies, fillings, liquid cheesecake (yes, you read that correctly), brittle, panna cotta, croissants, and the mother of all dough.

Some of the ingredients required for the recipes were unusual for me. I don't normally see citric acid, freeze-dried corn, feuilletine, milk powder, grapeseed oil, gelatin sheets, or glucose in my cupcake recipes (did you know, Momofuku had a short-lived cupcake program when they first started out)! But, when in doubt on where to purchase the materials, Tosi turns you towards Amazon.com.

The first recipe was for Cereal Milk. It is comically easy to make. Have you ever had cereal and ended up with leftover milk at the bottom of your bowl? Then you have made cereal milk before. While it can be viewed as laughable that Tosi steeps the cereal in milk for the sugary flavour, it is the simplicity of it all that astonishes us. Tosi turns that addictive Cereal Milk flavour into panna cotta, ice cream, and pie.

Moving on to one of the loves in my life - cake. Because their cakes are not frosted on the side or decorated, you would think they were a no-fuss kind of deal. You would be wrong as Tosi is strict on measuring everything by the gram and constructing every layer perfectly. The sides are still smooth and perfectly aligned. Why do we frost the side of cakes anyways?

Most of the photos in the book are small and not every photo gets a full page spread. They don't do a lot of step-by-step photos (in the style of James Peterson's books), in fact, there are sometimes photos of equipment, staff members, and ingredients.

Not all the photos are styled, you get a very raw vibe, a very what-you-see-is-what-there-is. The end papers showcase all the different crumbs, the half title page - crack pie, the title page - a busy Christina Tosi crossing a slushy New York street, the table of contents - a chef assembling a cake. That photo in the table of contents caught my eye. It is clearly the arm of a chef. There are what looks like burn marks or injuries - this is not a model's hand. I like that is shows that working in a kitchen isn't easy, you need to be a "hardbody." I'm mentioning the photos because I know most people (like myself) love beautiful food photos for each recipe (we want to see how the final product looks), but this isn't one of those cookbooks, so be prepared.

Overall, if you enjoyed Momofuku, chances are you'll like Momofuku Milk Bar. The desserts are manageable to create, and once you have the basic crunch and crumbs made, the cookbook builds upon these recipes. You'll have fun and you'll surprise yourself with how sweet simplicity can taste.

Disclaimer: Thank you to Lindsey Reeder from Random House of Canada for sending us a review copy of Momofuku Milk Bar. No incentives were used to produce a positive review of this book.

Now, would you like to see me make my first crunch?
Above: Look at the cornflakes before they were crushed with all my strength. No seriously, my arm was a bit sore after all those crushes.

Below: Now look. The cornflakes are in smaller bits.
Cornflake Crunch
Recipe from Momofuku Milk Bar
(Makes about 4 cups)

5 cups of cornflakes
1/2 cup of milk powder
3 tablespoons of sugar
1 teaspoon of kosher salt
9 tablespoons of melted butter
  1. Heat the oven to 275°F (135°C).
  2. Pour the cornflakes into a bowl and crush them to one-quarter of their original size.
  3. Add the milk powder, sugar, and salt. Toss to mix.
  4. Add the butter and toss to coat. The butter will act as a glue and bind the dry ingredients into small clusters.
  5. Spread the clusters on a parchment- or Silpat-lined sheet pan and bake for 20 minutes.
  6. Cool the cornflake crunch before storing or using in a recipe.
You add butter to bind the cornflakes, milk powder, sugar, and kosher salt together. Thus, creating small clusters.

We're not done yet, we needed that crunch to make...
Cornflake-Chocolate-Chip-Marshmallow Cookies
Recipe from Momofuku Milk Bar
(Makes 15-20 cookies)

2 sticks of unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 1/4 cups of sugar
2/3 cups of light brown sugar
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon of vanilla extract
1 1/2 cups of flour
1/2 teaspoon of baking powder
1/4 teaspoon of baking soda
1 1/4 teaspoons of kosher salt
3 cups of Cornflake Crunch
2/3 cups of mini chocolate chips
1 1/4 cups of mini marshmallows
  1. Combine the butter, sugar, and brown sugar in a bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Cream together on medium-high for 2-3 minutes.
  2. Scrape the sides and add the egg and vanilla. Beat for 7-8 minutes on high. The mixture should look puffy and voluminous, with soft peaks.
  3. Add the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Mix until the dough comes together on low, no longer than 1 minute!
  4. Scrape the sides and add the cornflake crunch and chocolate chips. Mix on low for less than 30 seconds. Mix in the marshmallows on low until incorporated.
  5. Plastic wrap the bowl and refrigerate for at least an hour, or up to one week. Do not bake the cookies from room temperature - they will not hold their shape.
  6. Heat the oven to 375°F (190°C).
  7. Using a 2 3/4-ounce ice cream scoop, arrange the cookie dough on parchment- or Silpat-lined sheet pans, at least 4 inches apart. Bake for 18 minutes. The cookies will puff, crackle, and spread.
  8. At the 18 minute mark, the cookies should be browned on the edges and just beginning to brown toward the center.
  9. Cool the cookies on the sheet pans before transferring to a plate or to an airtight container for storage. At room temperature, the cookies will keep fresh for 5 days; in the freezer, they will keep for 1 month.
Okay, so how were the Cornflake-Chocolate-Chip-Marshmallow Cookies? They smelled good, they looked browner than they should have, and the texture was rock solid. So they didn't turn out the way we imagined, but I think I can troubleshoot for next time:

I know we didn't over mix, we timed everything with an alarm and was paranoid enough to mix everything by hand starting with the fourth step. Because we were eager to eat them, we picked the minimum fridge time of one hour - probably not long enough. I would leave them overnight next time (not a week, who can wait a week??). Finally, my oven was too hot. Lower the temperature and keep an eye on the cookies at the 12-15 minute mark. Mine were definitely over baked. So much for recreating this photo.

What I found amusing about the whole ordeal was that Tosi created this cookie because someone over toasted the cornflake crunch for the cereal milk panna cotta. Refusing to let it go to waste, the Cornflake-Chocolate-Chip-Marshmallow Cookies were born. So I wonder, what would they create with over baked cookies?

So our first batch of cookies were not perfect, but they were still edible and quite tasty. My baking partner in crime, Julia, recommended dipping these cookies in hot milk. We did. And it was amazing.

One final thing before this post gets too long, Howard and I visited two Momofuku Milk Bar locations during our trip to New York in September:

15 West 56th Street
New York, NY 10019

This was the first Milk Bar we visited! It is on street level, so we passed by it before going for lunch at Má Pêche downstairs.

My prix-fixe meal at Má Pêche came with a Momofuku Milk Bar cookie. Our server recommended the corn cookie, but I really wanted to try the compost cookie. I enjoyed the compost cookie, but after reading the cookbook, I'm kicking myself for not also getting the corn one.

251 East 13th Street
New York, NY 10003

This location was across from Momofuku Ssäm Bar. After lunch, we ran across (in the pouring rain) to try the famous crack pie.

This location was smaller than the midtown one, but has a table by the window. So we ate crack pie by the window and watched the rain storm grow stronger.

The pie was kept in the fridge, so it was chilled when we bit into it. It was very sweet and we weren't blown away by it, but we can see how this can be addictive when you're in the mood for munchies. This officially wrapped up our mini Momofuku tour. =)

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