Wednesday, June 20, 2012
At home with Momofuku Milk Bar
Like the look of these cornflake-chocolate-chip-marshmallow cookies? Lemme tell you, they were delicious. Not unlike the chocolate-chocolate cookies, chocolate crumb, cornflake crunch and 'crack pie' from the same book, Christina Tosi's Momofuku Milk Bar (Absolute, £25).
There's often a lot of what Tim would call Billy Bullshit surrounding New York food phenomena and Milk Bar is no exception. They've trademarked several recipes (I understand the impulse, but I think it's probably futile) and Tosi's defiantly personal approach to desserts is widely admired by a legion of would-be diabetics. The book was subject to a strict embargo when it was published UK-side in May. The crack pie (fudgy, with a homemade biscuit shell and a hard-to-find key ingredient, powdered freeze-dried sweetcorn) is mentioned in breathless tones and the cookies are made with bread flour. It's like a cult.
Knowing that we were off to NYC to get married (and to eat), I fell upon the recipes with a particular fervour. Would my crack pie come out like Christina's? Can I equal the cookie excellence which is a cornerstone of the empire? Well...yes. The methods are a bit of an arse because of Tosi's unusual stipulations (for the cookies you cream butter, sugar, glucose and eggs for ten minutes) and use of bits and pieces that you've made earlier (because earlier, you weren't wiping curry sauce off a toddler, you were making cornflake crunch). No expense is spared, either. But the results were pretty impressive, with a look roughly approximate to the pictures in the book.
I was surprised, then, that when we rounded off a lovely lunch at Momofuku Má Pêche with a trip to the Milk Bar upstairs, the cornflake cookies turned out to be a bit pathetic. Flat, sweaty and softening in their plastic wrap, with no hint of the goodies in every bite that's part of the Tosi ethos, they were just...not as good as mine. Or, I have to presume, as good as they should have been. And there's a lesson somewhere about these parts about why home baking often tastes better than shop-bought baking, however cack-handed the execution. It's fresh. It hasn't been sitting in a plastic sleeve on a shelf. And in the case of the Tosi tasty, you don't have to go all the way to New York to try it.