Friday, January 20, 2012

Munching on Crunchy Cookies

So I've been on something of a Momofuku kick lately. Williams and Sonoma have a bunch of cookie-mixes from the Momofuku Milk Bar bakery which got me thinking about their cookbook and watching videos on YouTube. As it turns out Christina Tosi, the pastry chef, is pretty cool. Her recipes are all about rethinking classic American treats, incorporating ingredients that anybody who grew up with processed foods will love (cereal milk in particular sounds amazing). I tried to make the corn cookies from the Milk Bar cookbook--you can find it as a free sample on online bookstores like Amazon and Barnes and Noble. It gave me a chance to use my new food processor to grind up the freeze dried corn (which along with the corn flour provides the corn element in the cookies).

I was a little worried when I saw freeze dried corn powder on the ingredients list but I looked online and found that you can get freeze dried corn in a lot of health stores. I headed down to the local homeopathic drug shop/grocer and sure enough, found packets of it almost immediately as well as the corn flour I needed.

Fifteen minutes and $9.14 later, I was back in my apartment and ready to start baking. I tried a little bit of the corn before grinding it up--I don't think I'll ever want to snack on it. The flavor was ok, as well as the initial crunch (it tasted just like corn without any of the juices) but after that I couldn't shake the feeling that I had just dumped a bunch of sawdust in my mouth.

The actual baking process went smoothly. In her introduction to the book, Christina Tosi recommends a stand mixer because of the density of her doughs. I found this to be sound advice. My little hand mixer, a Sunbeam that is older than I am, held in there in the beginning but started making funny noises as the cookie dough got thicker. I ended up doing the final folds by hand. I shaped the cookies and chilled them for an hour, as directed, and put them in the oven for a quick bake.

The instructions said to let the cookies cool completely on the sheet pan (I believe so that the corn and flour can reabsorb all of the melted butter). I only have one pan and was forced to do two batches, so I moved the first batch prematurely. The paper towels I put them on soaked up a lot of the butter, which along with one egg is the only source of moisture in the cookies.

They ended up being a little dry and very sugary. I've had two so far and I'm still not sold on the corn-flavored cookie yet. That being said, I think this recipe is a great representation of the kind of food that Milk Bar puts out--quirky spins on American favorites. The cookies are like a cross over between those big, crackly sugar cookies and corn bread. Ms. Tosi is southern by birth, so corn bread might very well have been her inspiration. I'll try another cookie with milk later, which will dilute the flavor and add moisture (besides, what could be more perfect for a Milk Bar cookie?). I hope I make it to New York some day, so I can try the real thing and see how mine stacks up.

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