on November 9, 2011
I preordered this cookbook as soon as I could. I have been dying to get it. I have never been to NYC, so I have never tried the baked goods. I have made all the recipes I could find online. I loved the crack pie, and chocolate malted milk cake, but the blueberry and cream cookies really haunted me.
I could not wait to try the corn cookies especially. It took me a week or so to get in the Just Corn that I needed. In the meantime, I started with the cornflake marshmallow cookies. The first six I baked off were overbaked. I was expecting them to take about 18 minutes, like the book said, but I ended up pulling them at 15. The next batch got removed at 12 minutes. I think I could have gone 11. I know they were the right size because I had the right quantity. My one heads up about this book is that the baking times for the cookies seems really off to me. Luckily I bake a lot, so I know what a cookie should look like when it is done. The middle should look completely unbaked while the edges are lightly browned. They continue to bake quite a bit after they come out. The center will be fully baked by the time they cool. I was able to adjust quickly. For cookies this size I think the baking time should be about 11-12 minutes.
I have made: chocolate marshmallow cookies, corn cookies, confetti cookies, candy bar pie, crack pies (one with pecans!), and the compost cookies so far. Every one has had a much deeper depth of flavor than ordinary baked goods. I believe she is right when she says that milk powder is the msg of the baking world. It does seem to make everything taste better.
The crack pie recipe in the book is different and far superior to previously published versions. This pie is truly incredible, and my family prefers the pecan variation. The corn cookie was worth tracking down the Just Corn. My husband said they reminded him of his favorite childhood cereal, King Vitamin. We loved this cookie!
I currently have passion fruit puree and a cake ring on order from Amazon. I cannot wait to try the cakes and the grapefruit pie.
I highly recommend this book if you like a bit of a challenge in the kitchen. You really want to track down the right equipment and ingredients to do these recipes justice! It is well worth the effort.
on October 25, 2011
Momofuku Milk Bar cookbook is your chance to jump back to your youth when you were raised on Cap'n Crunch and Corn Flakes. In a follow-up to David Chang's best-selling Momofuku Cookbook, his pastry chef, Christina Tosi, presents her most popular recipes including the famed Compost Cookies and Crack Pie. But beware of her overly sweet recipes if you prefer your desserts a bit more subtle and understated.
Momofuku Milk Bar's fame, although relatively new, is well deserved. The story is legendary - David Chang was serving Hershey Kisses as dessert for his restaurants, and on leave from wd-50, Christina Tosi arrived to assist in dealing with the New York restaurant inspectors. A quick consult turned into a full-time job based on junk food turned nostalgia pastry. Many terms have been used to describe her creations including the New York Times' "a time capsule of arrested adolescence, an homage to American processed food," but I prefer to think of them as "gussied up stuff my mom used to make."
Momofuku Milk Bar Cookbook comes in at 256 pages with over 100 photographs. Pictures fill most pages and are sure to get your mouth watering although her desserts are not about fancy and frilly, and so they aren't necessarily the most photogenic. The book also contains sections on her preferred ingredients, equipment and techniques. What is most exciting about this book is that Tosi gives us much of her menu, and explains how the menu evolved in those early years.
The evolution of her menu makes sense. Chefs don't have much time so they need to create a handful of knock-out base recipes that can be spun into a number of other recipes. And for this reason alone, Milk Bar is a good read for any aspiring chef or prolific bake sale maven. The book centers around ten such bases - cereal milks, crumb, crunch, graham crust, fudge sauce, liquid cheesecake, nut brittle, nut crunch, ganache and mother dough - which she spins into more savory applications. And then each of those bases is used in cookies, cakes, pies and other sweets. Recipes are written clearly and ingredients are presented in grams and standard measures.
In reviewing cookbooks my pastry staff and I prepare a number of the recipes to check for flavor and success. Our response (and the response of our customers) was universal - too sweet and inconsistent outcomes. We started at the Compost Cookies and worked our way through the cornflake-chocolate-chip-marshmallow cookies, carrot layer cake, cinnamon bun pie, candy bar pie, and finally finished with the Crack Pie. Even my sugar loving pastry team was left setting the fork down to grab a cup of water. Aside from the sweetness, some of the recipes didn't have the final finished appearance that was worthy of a restaurant let alone a bake sale. But is that enough to disregard this book?
I found the narrative sections to be an enthralling and fun romp. I cook in a small rural community and while reading Tosi's accounts I felt like I was in New York. I could smell the crowded, hot kitchens. I could see her running down the street to the market to buy chips. I could feel the camaraderie of her staff. Tosi has a wonderful gift in being able to capture the passion of her kitchen and sharing it with the reader. Her recipes are fun and doable for all levels of cooks. For those who wake up to Cap'n Crunch (even in their 30s and 40s), her recipes will be cherished.
I can make your decision fairly simple. When you're done eating your cereal, do you pick up the bowl and drink the milk because you like the flavor of the cereal milk? Do you ever find yourself dumping all of your leftover junk food in a bowl and pouring chocolate sauce on top for a late afternoon snack? If you do these things then you'll love this book. If not, take a glance at it for a quick afternoon read and then share it with your sugar-loving neighbor.
on December 7, 2011
Having lived in Brooklyn, I was familiar with Momofuku Milk Bar... so I was excited to get Christina's cookbook. If your sole goal is to make crack pie, the recipe is on the 'net at the LA Times site.. so do a quick search. You won't need any special ingredients for the online version except milk powder. The easiest/cheapest way to buy it is at W-mart, where you can buy an envelope of it rather than a giant package. It's slightly different from the book version in that it doesn't use the corn powder (only 1/4 cup...ground up freeze dried corn). In the book she also mentions that you can add nuts or berries to the pie. (Yummy!)
If your goal is the compost cookies, once again...google...Regis and Kelly or numerous food blogs.
This book for me was three stars--because it's not usable by the average baker. But I added another star for inspiration--as it did inspire me to change my cookie repertoire--as well as the microwave brown butter recipe (see below)). But you know what? I don't use Christina's recipes. I use the standard Toll House cookie recipe and then Milkbarify them.... adding marshmallows, corn flakes (toast before for added flavor, just like nuts), and mini chocolate chips.... or composting them with whatever I can find...pretzels, potato chips, mini chocolate chips, Oreos, etc. I might add in 2 spoonfulls of dry milk powder, but only if I have it. I chill the dough for at least an hour before baking--but that's it. So for that, it's helped. I highly recommend taking this book out of the library before purchasing...or at least checking it out in a Bricks-and-Mortar bookstore (if you still have one in your town. ;))
I didn't expect the recipes to be so time consuming or require so many special ingredients--as I bake pretty much every day. To make almost anything in this book, you're going to need to invest in Caullet Glucose Syrup - 2.2 lb. She says you can use half the amount of corn syrup, but it won't be the same.
You'll also need Just Tomatoes Just Corn, 8-Ounce Large Pouch (Pack of 3) to make crack pie or many of the cookie recipes.
Clear Cake Collars or acetate sheets are required for most cakes.
And of course, as the name implies, you're going to need Carnation Instant Nonfat Dry Milk , 5 - 3.2 oz Pouches....which Christina uses in nearly every recipe (she refers to it as the MSG of the pastry world.)
You should also have a stand mixer as well as Dutch cocoa powder like Frontier Cocoa Powder, Dutch-process Certified Organic, Fair Trade Certified, 16-Ounce Bag.
She mentions reworking her ice cream recipes so that they could be made in a home ice cream maker. I wish she had reworked her recipes to work a bit better in the home kitchen. The LA Times was able to do it for the crack pie... why didn't Christina do it for all (at least most) of the recipes??? As it stands now, I'm betting that many people will not be willing to invest in so many special ingredients to make a few treats.
The book has a great mother dough recipe for breads and croissants--so it's not all super sweet (which was a nice surprise). There are recipes for making your own infused milks (cereal milk), different brittles, etc. Yet, still, so many are all about special ingredients. It is a great read--and I really enjoyed that. She definitely shares a lot of great advice, and if you're becoming more serious about your baking or considering pastry school, then definitely pick it up.
One added bonus was how to make Brown Butter in the Microwave!! (Yippee!!) Put your butter in a pyrex bowl, cover it with a microwave safe plate, and nuke it for 3-5 minutes. Easy peasy. Then stir.
If you're looking for more of a home-baker accessible cookbook then I recommend Baked: New Frontiers in Baking and Baking: From My Home to Yours.
on January 17, 2015
I have used this cookbook more than any other cookbook that I own. I've made almost every cake and cookie in the book and they taste amazing! The flavor combinations in this book are so great that my friends who are professional chefs have asked me to make the cakes for them to take to family parties and to make cookies from this book to give as favors at their wedding. I even used recipes from this cookbook to make my own wedding cake and several other desserts for our small wedding reception. The corn cookies and the carrot layer cake with the liquid cheesecake layer are my favorite recipes in the book.
The recipes do call for some specific ingredients and equipment that can sometimes be hard to find locally, but you can always get them online. The layer cake recipes require you to make several different components and can take a good amount of time to complete, but the directions are very clear and concise and the end result is well worth the effort! The recipes give measurements in weight (which I love), but also in cups and tablespoons if you're more comfortable with that. I'm always on a search for a new cookbook that I will love as much as this cookbook, but I've yet to find one that can match the fun creativity and great flavor combinations of Milk Bar.
on May 22, 2014
I love this cookbook so much! With 1 exception (it was my own mistake), every single thing I have made has turned out amazing. I'm seriously blowing the minds of all my friends. They always ask for the recipes when I make something from the cookbook and I've even started giving the cookbooks as gifts.
It is very important, however, that you read through the section where Tosi describes the ingredients and the techniques. I am guessing that most people who have had problems with the recipes did not do this. I made several batches of cookies before I realized what she calls "flour" is actually BREAD flour. The cookies with regular flour still turned out great, but they were very thin and crunchy. This did not stop a single person from going to town on them though.
Then I started using bread flour and everything came together. The cookies do not spread like crazy, they are crisped on the outside but chewy and soft in the middle.
So read about the ingredients so you can get the best results!!
I really do love this cookbook. The recipes are great but I also just love reading the stories and commentary. Some of the recipes call for some unique ingredients and have *a lot* of steps, but it's all pretty easy if you can plan everything out. For example, I start making the crack pie 2 days before I want it. I will make the oat cookie for the crust on day 1, finish making the pie and put it into the freezer on day 2, and then serve it on day 3. And it is SOOO worth it.
on February 10, 2012
"I will bake anything from this cookbook that you ask me to," I have proclaimed more than once, to more than one person, while singing the praises of this book. Last weekend, I went through three pounds of butter because I could not stop myself from trying more recipes.
I thought that I liked baking. I had no idea how far from "like" I was. Compared to what I do now, I was just going through the motions.
I have had this book for less than two months, but already it has changed my approach to and my enjoyment of baking. It will be a longstanding staple in my kitchen/life.
I received this book as a gift. I'd never heard of it. At first glance, the photos are beautiful, but there is a lot of reading, as far as cookbooks go. And, upon further inspection, the recipes looked complicated and intimidating. They are recipes within recipes. But, having heard of Momofuku, the Milk Bar is their bakery, I was intrigued.
The first thing I did, which is out of character for me and a cookbook, is read it from cover to cover. I was in love with the narrative. And reading through it piqued my interest, revved up my courage and helped me to understand the recipes and the process of baking. I was inspired!
There are some unusual ingredients in the book. The author is a big proponent of Amazon for sourcing things like glucose and freeze-dried corn, if you can't find them locally. Instead of making an investment in a yet-to-be-proven-in-my-kitchen-cookbook, I chose a recipe that needed nothing particularly special: Cornflake Chocolate Chip Marshmallow Cookies. I was not particularly sold on that combination of ingredients, but went ahead with it, anyway. It was from that point on that I was a shameless devotee. I haven't picked up another cookbook in weeks!
The beauty of this book, is her approach. It is broken down into techniques which all integrate to create other complete recipes. For example, Cornflake Crunch goes into the Cornflake Chocolate Chip Marshmallow Cookies. The Mother Dough can be fashioned into Volcanoes, Brioche or Croissants, Cereal Milk into Cereal Milk ice cream. And the cakes! Four recipes in one, at times! Also included are nut brittles, pies, liquid cheesecake, ganache, fudge sauce and other things that I didn't even know existed, let alone that I wanted to bake! Some have thier own dedicated chapters. Others are within chapters.
There is an introduction detailing some of the author's history, a section on success in the kitchen and using the book. She writes , in detail, about ingredients and technique. The writing is friendly and direct, but not overwhelming in length. And the reading of the narratives feels, not like a chore, but a gift of insight and glimpses of motivation.
It turns out, I LOVE BAKING. This book has inspired me to try my own ideas when I don't have all the pieces for one of hers. I have baked things I'd never have even considered before this book, stuffed croissants and black bepper brioche to name two. And shortly after trying her recipes, and having read through her narrative, I began improvising on the recipes she had provided. I have actually gained confidence and inspiration as a baker after having read through the book and having tried some of the recipes.
Initially, I wasn't sure that this was a book I'd recommend because of the commitment required to complete a single recipe. Then, I thought that I couldn't recommend it out of the greed of wanting to be the most creative baker at work. But now, for anyone who thinks they love baking, want to love baking more or want to be re-seduced by the call of the items in the pantry, I wouldn't dream of keeping this a secret! ( And, much to the dismay of my ego, having returned to work each Monday with a new story from the trenches of baking love, I get the feeling that, at least one of my co-workers will be shamelessly slaving away to the call of the Momofuku Milk Bakery Cookbook.)
on March 31, 2012
I can't top Robert Connoley's review of this book. Just like he said the recipes give you a chance to jump back to your youth. The book is nicely formatted and the pictures are very nice for the most part, although some of the pictures depicted people and not the food product.
We made several of the recipes and the results were interesting. As one of the other reviewers mentioned as to the amount of salt, it can be too much as our first results were too salty. This is possibly due to using Morton Salt which may be saltier than the brand used by Milkbar.
Another substitution we used was for the glucose since we had none on hand and corn syrup reduced in quantity was substituted.
The recipes were rather time consuming requirng several days to assemble the cookies. First the crumbs for the cookies had to be made. The next step is the cookie batter which is time consuming due to the recipes requiring 10 minutes to cream the butter.
The results were varied.
1) The compost cookies were quite unique based on the ingredients. Using Morton's Kosher salt instead of Diamond salt these cookies were a tad too salty. Reducing the amount of salt improved the result. The coffee left a bitter undertone. You could say these cookies had a rainbow of flavors considering the potato chips, coffee, pretzles, rolled oats, graham cracker crumbs, etc...
2) The blueberry cream cookies were enjoyable except for the salt issue.
3) The cornflake cookies were our favorite, although a bit too buttery and greasy. The cornflakes added a unique texture and flavor. We cut down on the temperature and baking time since these cookies spread too much as noted by other reviewers.
4) The chocolate chocolate cookies were brownie like with good texture and reminded us of a store bought cookie. The chocolate crumbs added a unique twist.
5) The confetti cookies were good and came out nicely with a good texture. We liked these just as much as the blueberry cream cookies.
6) The crack pie was a lot of work due to the different stages required. The result was gooey and sweet. However, I don't know if I would make this again, but wanted to try it because of all the hoopla.
Overall the recipes are quite interesting. I enjoyed trying the recipes, but it is not for the casual baker. When I visit New York I will have to visit Milkbar for the real thing.
on October 2, 2015
I only recently started baking and I think I'm addicted, thanks to the Momofuku Milkbar cookbook. I'm a 30ish mom, trained to work on the computer, not in the kitchen. The Milkbar book, with precise measurements and descriptions of how/why certain ingredients are used really helped me gain confidence and learn technique. After trying all the cookie recipes and a couple cakes, I went to the library and checked out all the baking books I could find. I have found a few other favorites, but Milkbar is still my #1. It is one of the only books that read well, cover to cover. It's a story of Tosi's inspiring career journey, with awesome recipes sprinkled in between. It's true, you can find a lot of these recipes online, as adapted by various food bloggers, and even on the Milkbar site itself. I tried the online Birthday cake recipe before I made the purchase and it came out okay. But after reading the book, I understood why she uses complex techniques and ingredients, and noticed how these reflect classic techniques found in other books. I liked that she gives two styles of measurements. I happened to have a $10 scale from my son's science fair project and started measuring by weight instead of cups. Who knew it would be easier AND cleaner! Measuring by weight is now my preferred method. I won't buy a cookbook without weight conversions. The subrecipes were a little off-putting at first, but when I realized that those can be interchanged with different flavors and added to other dishes, or even snacked on alone, it opened up so many explorative possibilities. I get tons of compliments on everything I've made from this book. People can't believe I didn't get them from some local trendy bakery. If you're looking to just try some recipes from this famous bakery in NYC, you can find them on the Milkbar website. If you're looking to try a new style of baking and a new way to think about how you work in the kitchen, click buy. (Or borrow it from the library, fall in love, then buy.)
Having read the range of reviews before ever having picked up this book I was nervous about what I would find, thankfully any fears were unwarranted and I absolutely loved my experience cooking from this book. It should be said before I go any further that I think this book is best suited for avid home cooks with an intermediate to advanced skill level. If you dislike recipes with lots of steps or buying slightly more unusual equipment or ingredients, this is not the book for you. Though I will say that sourcing these things is not as hard as you might think. I found glucose in the baking/cake decorating section of my local craft store and there are also a lot of great baking supply stores online that will sell low quantity ingredients and supplies to home cooks. The book also requires an attention to detail. The methods for the recipes are what they are for a reason and if you don't follow them to a T you may not get the results you're hoping for. If this sounds too finicky, again probably not the book for you.
If you made it through my first paragraph undeterred then you're lucky because this book is an absolute gem. It's full of a range of recipes - sweet and savory - for cakes, pies, croissants, cookies, and more that bring together unexpected flavor combinations or new techniques, and sometimes both. I've made several recipes from the book including the majority of the cookie recipes and the cereal milk ice cream and have been impressed with how well the recipes turned out. I haven't had a single flop or an instance where something turned out less than I desired. But I will note that I've been very meticulous about following the steps to the letter and have also used the weight measurements for all the ingredients. I think the latter especially makes a difference because when scooping flour things can be so variable depending on how you scoop. I also love that with the cookies especially, once you've gotten the technique down, the sky is the limit. I've used her ratios to make my own custom flavors of cookies (like a deliciously chewy banana tolberone cookie) and they've come out fantastically. Yes, her recipes, like most bakery cookies, run a bit on the sweet side, but I've accommodated for that over time by cutting back on the sugar slightly for the recipes I've tried before. But granted, I don't have a sweet tooth at all so many things I've made are too sweet for my taste. But overall, I've brought the goodies to many potlucks, bake sales, etc. and they've always been well received.
Yes, there are bits of memoir in this cookbook, but I skipped over them and still found it to be delightful. I also appreciate that there is a range of skill levels required for the recipes in the book so I could cut my teeth on some of the easier ones (like the cookies) and work my way up from there.
Overall, this was a fantastic book! By this point in my home cooking journey I've picked up hundreds of cookbooks and have become a bit jaded as I realize that so many of them offer very similar recipes without much true innovation. But this one pleasantly surprised me as it does bring both new and novel flavor combinations and inventive techniques to the table. I don't think it is the kind of book that is appropriate for every home cook, but I think people who don't mind slightly trickier recipes or few upfront purchases of ingredients or cookware will really love this.
on August 31, 2012
I just made the corn cookies that were featured on Amazon. As I was making them I noticed that there was quite a bit of difference between the weights and cup measurements in the recipe, 225gms flour was more than 1 1/3 cups, 45gms of corn flour was more than 1/4 cup... I perused other reviews and blogs trying to find out if anyone else had encountered this problem. Complaints were of the cookies melting or spreading way too much....hmmm, could it be not enough flour? On a whim I e-mailed Milk Bar (6pm PST so 9pm in NYC) and within 5 minutes Ms. Tosi responded and told me to use the weights which they always do in the kitchen. Well, the cookies turned out spectacularly and were totally yummy! So my advice is to use a scale if you have one for the recipes in this book. For these cookies you can find the freeze dried corn at Whole Foods along with the corn flour (I found Red MIlls)..definitely worth making! Also, I did not use 1/3 cup (thats a lot of dough!), I use ice cream scoops and my largest scoop is 1/4 cup. The cookies were plenty big enough and took approximately 12 minutes to bake. Enjoy! Will definitely try other recipes in this book!