Monday, December 3, 2012

Compost Cookies

Love the Comments sections for recipes. Some people do not know how to read recipes, or cook, and their cranky comments are available for all the world to see. As my Grandmother would say, “bless their hearts.”  It was the comments on the Momofuku Milk Bar Compost Cookies recipe that intrigued me.
The success rate was all over the place.There were people who got great cookies, and people who threw the whole batch away.
“the 1st pan was greasy,flat,and chewy so I threw it away “, “Very disappointing. I don't see how the cookies came out so puffy and dense for you. Mystifying. I wouldn't try this again based on how it worked for me, but would if someone had tweaks to improve the recipe listed here.”
“When I finally baked them, I was so disappointed. I let the dough balls chill all afternoon, and I set the oven to 400 degrees, but they just wouldn't cook in the middle. They got super dark (almost burnt) on the edges, but raw in the middle..”

What was it with this recipe?
There are several versions of this recipe online: there is this one in the Los Angeles Times, this one on, also here, and here.
Careful reading of the ingredients shows that this is based on the Toll House Cookie .But the techniques supplied are different. The Chef, Christina Tosi, advises beating the butter and sugar for ten minutes in a mixer (!!!), plus she adds what I considered unnecessary additions: corn syrup, and too much salt.
I know from reading the comments that some people’s cookies came out flat, but looking at pictures of the “real” Compost Cookies, they are somewhat flat. Most people have an unrealistic expectation of what a cookie should look like, based on a lifetime of buying cookies, as opposed to making cookies. (Just like they don’t know what good clothes should look like, because they wear RTW).
I resolved to conquer the Compost Cookie.
After reading all of the recipes online, I decided to start with this one, with the following changes, based on my ten thousand hours plus of cookie baking.
I eliminated the corn syrup, which is my view provided more sweetness, plus makes the cookies flatter.
I decided against the ten minute beating of the sugar and butter, because that makes the butter soft and oily, causing unpleasant texture.
I did not add any additional salt, because I used salted butter, and the potato chips and pretzels are plenty salty. Since I did not beat my cookies senseless, I did not have to chill them overnight, although if you want chunky, chewy cookies, as opposed to flat, oily cookies, this is a good idea, if you have time.
Momofuku Milk Bar's compost cookies
Adapted from Los Angeles Times version of the Momofuku Milk Bar in New York.

First, make the graham crust
Graham crust
1 1/2 cups  graham cracker crumbs ( I crushed a package of graham crackers in my Cuisinart, and measured the correct amount)
1/4 cup  milk powder
2 tablespoons  sugar
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) melted butter, more if needed
1/4 cup heavy cream
I did not add any additional salt here, because graham crackers already have salt, plus my butter was salted.

I mixed this all together in the Cuisinart, and then set it aside.
There is more than you need for the recipe, so I stored the remainder in the fridge, and resolved to think of other things to add it to.

Compost cookies

1 cup  butter,  (recipe writers always tell you to use room temperature butter. This is flat out wrong, IMHO. It will lead to flat and oily cookies. Your butter should be solid and only slightly pliable. You will be able to gently bend it. It will not be soft.)
1 cup  sugar
2/3 cup light brown sugar
1 egg
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/3 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 cup mini chocolate chips
1/2 cup (1/4 recipe) graham crust (from above)
1/3 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
2 1/2 teaspoons ground coffee
2 cups potato chips
1 cup mini pretzels
I also added ½ cup crushed and broken Oreos
and ½ cup crushed corn chex

My method: mix butter and sugars together in Cuisinart .Add egg, and vanilla. Add flour, baking powder, baking soda. I did not add additional salt as my butter was salted and the potato chips and pretzels have salt.. I removed this from the Cuisinart, and had Mr. Hunting Creek blend in the pretzels, oatmeal, chips, chocolate chips, chex, Oreos, etc. He decided to break up the pretzels and potato chips slightly. When it was all mixed together, I let it rest in the fridge for a while - maybe an hour? while I did Christmas shopping “research” online, and Mr. Hunting Creek watched football.
Then I used my tablespoon cookie scoop to form the cookies. I did not want giant, salad plate sized cookies. I do not want to eat that much cookie at one time,. so I opted for a saner size. Preheat your oven to 350. .
We baked a batch at 350 for 14 minutes, you may need to go a minute longer or shorter - you should always do a test batch to see if the recipe time works for you. Don’t do what so many commenters did and bake giant batches of cookies at 400 degrees, just to end up throwing them out. Doing this - baking a giant batch for the first run through is like using your expensive fabric for a pattern that you have never made before. Make a muslin! Do a test batch!

My version of Compost Cookies came out delightfully craggy and crunchy and chewy. Baking time has a lot to do with texture too. Bake slightly less if you want a more chewy texture.
Next time I make these I will try reducing the sugar a little bit and adding different “Compost” ingredients. My testers liked them,
I will include these in my Christmas cookie tins this year.
What new cookie recipes are you going to try? Or do you stick to tried and true?


The Slapdash Sewist said...

Oh my, those sound delicious! I love Take 5 candy bars, which have peanut butter and pretzels in them, among other things. This sounds right up my alley.

badmomgoodmom said...

Iris bought Ninja Bread Men cookie cutters and we made ginger cookies with them.

Beangirl said...

I'm glad it's not just me who reads recipe reviews for entertainment. My favorites usually go something like this:

"I give this recipe zero stars. It was TERRIBLE! I'm so disappointed because I've never made anything like this before and I've only been cooking for three months. It didn't come out at all like the picture. First off, I left out four ingredients and substituted strawberry jam for butter..."

It's the same with pattern reviews or game reviews or... anything really. Once I got past the irritation I started to find them pretty entertaining. As my husband's grandma also said: "Bless." (That's the English version of "Bless their hearts.")

I like the sound of your recipe. And I really appreciate a good review by a person who actually, y'know, has seen an oven before.

Jane M said...

OMG yes, reading the comments to recipes just for the entertainment value. I thought that was my guilty, self-righteous little secret. These do sound scrumptious so thanks for the inspiration.