New Year, New York

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Hope you all had a wonderful New Year's Eve. Whether you welcomed the year with friends, family, or with some tipsy strangers-- I hope your 2014 proves to be the best yet! By that I mean, I hope this year is full of inspiration and innovation. Trust yourself to take that adventure, push your boundaries, love the person you've grown into. Much better than starting that no-carb diet, right?

Throw out your ridiculous resolutions. It'll be ok, I promise. This first post of the year is dedicated to the most iconic New Year's Eve city... New York, NEW YORK. I wanted to showcase this magical time of year as well as pair that with a dessert that I feel best represents N.Y.C.! I'm so incredibly grateful for all of you and for the constant challenge and growth this blog continues brings to me. Cheers to 2014 and here's to another year!

{pretzel at Tiffany's}

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If you haven't seen the documentary Scatter My Ashes at Bergdorf's, check it out immediately on Netflix! This year's theme was a dedication to all holidays-- each window was a separate day such as Fourth of July, Arbor Day, Valentine's Day, etc. Always a creative surprise from Bergdorf's and never a shortage of spectacular!

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And now onto the dessert! This cheesecake is simplicity at its best. I don't add any caramel sauce or fruit, not a single strawberry or cherry! It would be delicious with those additions of course, but I just like it as is. I do add a hint of lemon zest to the cheesecake batter as well as a sour cream topping. Sounds more complicated than it really is. In all honesty, this recipe is so straightforward-- everyone will be so impressed with your new year baking feats. Make it for that cheesecake lover in your life which in my case, is myself.

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If you're like me, the most tedious part will be the graham cracker crust. Not because of the ingredients, but because it takes forever to make the edges perfectly level!

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I think this took me a solid 15 minutes. But so worth it! The rest of the cheesecake is very easy. Even the lemon zest/juice is optional but I think it adds a hint of brightness to this rich dessert.

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New York cheesecake makes about 10-12 servings

Crust:

  • 1 ¼ cups graham cracker crumbs (about 9 whole crackers)
  • 5 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 3 tablespoons sugar

Filling:

  • 1 cup sugar
  • 4 (8 ounce blocks) cream cheese, room temperature
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 1 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • ¼ teaspoon salt 

Topping:

  • 1 pint (2 cups) sour cream
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • ¼ teaspoon salt 

(1) Preheat oven to 350°F. (2) In a medium bowl, combine graham cracker crumbs, melted butter, and 3 tablespoons of sugar together until well combined. (3) Press into a 9″ spring form pan, pressing crumbs into bottom of pan.    (4) In a mixing bowl fitted with a paddle attachment, combine the 1 cup sugar and softened cream cheese; beat together until smooth about 3-4 minutes. (5) Add the eggs, one at a time, beating between each addition. (6) Add the vanilla, lemon zest, lemon juice and salt and beat just until smooth and creamy. You don’t want to whip too much air into it (this causes cracks on the top, but you shouldn’t have lumps of cream cheese). Pour into crust. (7) Bake for 35-45 minutes. (8) While cheesecake is baking, make the topping by mixing together the sour cream, ½ cup sugar, vanilla, and salt. (9) After baking, remove cheesecake from oven and turn oven temperature down to 325°F degrees. Pour sour cream topping over hot cheesecake, gently spreading to edges. (10)      Return cheesecake to oven and bake for an additional 12-15 minutes. (11)      Remove cheesecake from oven and leave sides on pan while allowing cheesecake to cool to room temperature.  Refrigerate several hours (or overnight) (12)      Remove edges of spring form pan before serving. A knife dipped in hot water makes for easier slicing.

Momofuku Milk Bar Exam no. 16 {chocolate chip layer cake}

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This dessert is a long overdue post. A really fantastic, fun recipe that is apparently Christina Tosi's favorite cake in the Milk Bar cookbook. Hence, you can imagine how nervous I was to make it! Like a samurai assistant forging a sword for his master (except this sword is edible). Yet it turned out to be as great as I could have imagined. 

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As the name entails, the base of this recipe is a chocolate chip cake yet of course as with any Milk Bar recipe there's always a twist. This one includes a passion fruit curd, chocolate crumbs, and coffee frosting. It all comes together to create an incredibly unique cake. One that I am glad to have checked off my Milk Bar Exam list!

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To me, the most exotic part of this cake was the passion fruit curd. Which was easier to say than make, primarily due to the passion fruit purée. So the search for passion fruit purée turned into a field trip to Harlem where I finally found it at the third Latin grocery store. Passion fruit purée (or technically pulp) success! If you can find it at a grocery store, stock up because purchasing it on Amazon can get pre-tty pricey.

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I've gotten so used to making these Momofuku Milk Bar cakes so I don't find the assembly as daunting as I used to. But it still helps to be organized and do as much prep ahead of time as possible. Pretty much everything besides the coffee frosting can be made the day before. Here's a more step-by-step breakdown of the whole process:

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The final product is quite a show piece! Truly something to make for a birthday or because it's the Monday after Thanksgiving and you need a little Cyber Monday oomph. The flavor combination seems bizarre at first, even I was apprehensive. But I dare you to try this cake out and not like it. I found that it was even better a couple days afterwards, when all the components of the cake really get to meld together into one delicious treat!

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chocolate chip layer cake makes 1 (6-inch) layer cake; 5 to 6 inches tall; serves 6 to 8

  • 1 recipe Chocolate Chip Cake
  • ⅓ cup (60g) passion fruit puree
  • 1 recipe Passion Fruit Curd
  • ½ recipe Chocolate Crumb
  • 1 recipe Coffee Frosting
  • ¼ cup (40g) mini chocolate chips

special equipment

(1) Put a piece of parchment or a Silpat on the counter. Invert the cake onto it and peel off the parchment or Silpat from the bottom of the cake. Use the cake ring to stamp out 2 circles from the cake. These are your top 2 cake layers. The remaining cake “scrap” will come together to make the bottom layer of the cake. - layer 1, the bottom - (2) Clean the cake ring and place it in the center of a sheet pan lined with clean parchment or a Silpat. Use 1 strip of acetate to line the inside of the cake ring. (3) Put the cake scraps inside the ring and use the back of your hand to temp the scraps together into a flat even layer. (4) Dunk a pastry brush in the passion fruit puree and give the layer of cake a good, healthy bath of half of the puree. (5) Use the back of a spoon to spread half of the passion fruit curd in an even layer over the cake. (6) Sprinkle half of the chocolate crumbs evenly over the passion fruit curd. Use the back of your hand to anchor them in place. (7) Use the back of a spoon to spread one-third of the coffee frosting as evenly as possible over the chocolate crumbs. - layer 2, the middle - (8) With your index finger, gently tuck the second strip of acetate between the cake ring and the top ¼ inch of the first strip of acetate, so that you have a clear ring of acetate 5 to 6 inches tall—high enough to support the height of the finished cake. Set a cake round on top of the frosting, and repeat the process for layer 1 (if 1 of your 2 cake rounds is jankier than the other, use it here in the middle and save the prettier one for the top). - layer 3, the top - (9) Nestle the remaining cake round into the frosting. Cover the top of the cake with the remaining frosting. Give it volume and swirls, or do as we do and opt for a perfectly flat top. Garnish the frosting with the mini chocolate chips. (10) Transfer the sheet pan to the freeze and freeze for a minimum of 12 hours to set the cake and filling. The cake will keep in the freezer for up to 2 weeks. (11) At least 3 hours before you are ready to serve the cake, pull the sheet pan out of the freezer and, using your fingers and thumbs, pop the cake out of the cake ring. Gently peel off the acetate, and transfer the cake to a platter or cake stand. Let it defrost in the fridge for a minimum of 3 hours (wrapped well in plastic, it can be refrigerated for up to 5 days). (12) Slice the cake into wedges and serve. .

Chocolate Chip Cake makes 1 quarter sheet pan cake

  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick, 115g) butter, at room temperature
  • 1¼ cups (250g) granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup (60g) light brown sugar, tightly packed
  • 3 eggs
  • ½ cup (110g) buttermilk
  • ½ cup (75g) grapeseed oil
  • 1 tablespoon (12g) vanilla extract
  • 1½ cups (185g) cake flour
  • 1 teaspoon (4g) baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon (4g) kosher salt
  • Pam or other nonstick cooking spray (optional)
  • ¾ cup (150g) mini chocolate chips 

(1) Heat the oven to 350°F. (2) Combine the butter and sugars in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and cream together on medium-high for 2 to 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, add the eggs, and mix on medium-high again for 2 to 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl once more. (3) On low speed, stream in the buttermilk, oil, and vanilla. Increase the mixer speed to medium-high and paddle for 4 to 6 minutes, until the mixture is practically white, twice the size of your original fluffy butter-and-sugar mixture, and completely homogenous. Don’t rush the process. You’re basically forcing too much liquid into an already fatty mixture that doesn’t want to make room for the liquid. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl. (4) On very low speed, add the cake flour, baking powder, and salt. Mix for 45 to 60 seconds, just until your batter comes together and any remnants of dry ingredients have been incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. If you see any lumps of cake flour in there while you’re scraping, mix for another 45 seconds. (5) Pam-spray a quarter sheet pan and line it with parchment, or just line the pan with a Silpat. Using a spatula, spread the cake batter in an even layer in the pan. Give the bottom of your sheet pan a tamp on the counter tip to even out the layer. Sprinkles the chocolate chips evenly over the cake batter. (6) Bake the cake for 30 to 35 minutes. The cake will rise and puff, doubling in size, but will remain slightly buttery and dense. At 30 minutes, gently poke the edges of the cake with your finger: the cake should bounce back slightly and the center should no longer be jiggly. Leave the cake in the oven for an extra 3 to 5 minutes if it doesn’t pass these tests. (7) Take the cake out of the oven and cool on a wire rack or, in a pinch, in the fridge or freezer (don’t worry, it’s not cheating). The cooled cake can be stored in the fridge, wrapped in plastic wrap, for up to 5 days.  

Passion Fruit Curd makes about 360g (1½ cups)

  • ½ cup (100g) passion fruit puree
  • ⅓ cup (65g) sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 gelatin sheet [used ½ teaspoon powdered gelatin]
  • 12 tablespoons (1½ sticks, 170g) butter, very cold
  • ½ teaspoon (2g) kosher salt

(1) Put the passion fruit puree and sugar in a blender and blend until the sugar granules have dissolved. Add the eggs and blend on low until you have a bright-orange-yellow mixture. Transfer the contents of the blender to a medium pot or saucepan. Clean the blender canister. (2) Bloom the gelatin. (3) Heat the passion fruit mixture over low heat, whisking regularly. As it heats up, it will begin to thicken; keep a close eye on it. Once it boils, remove it from the stove and transfer it to the blender. Add the bloomed gelatin, butter, and salt and blend until the mixture is thick, shiny, and super-smooth. (4) Transfer the mixture to a heatproof container, and put in the fridge until the curd has cooled completely, at least 30 minutes. The curd can be refrigerated for up to 1 week; do not freeze.  

Chocolate Crumb makes about 350g (2½ cups)

  • ⅔ cup (105g) flour
  • 1 teaspoon (4g) cornstarch
  • ½ cup (100g) sugar
  • ⅔ cup (65g) cocoa powder, preferably Valrhona
  • 6 tablespoons (85g) butter, melted 

(1) Heat the oven to 300°F. (2) Combine the flour, cornstarch, sugar, cocoa powder, salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and paddle on low speed until mixed. (3) Add the butter and paddle on low speed until the mixture starts to come together in small clusters. (4) Spread the clusters on a parchment- or Silpat-lined sheet pan. Bake for 20 minutes, breaking them up occasionally. The crumbs should still be slightly moist to the touch at that point; they will dry and harden as they cool. (5) Let the crumbs cool completely before using in a recipe or eating. Stored in an airtight container, they will keep fresh for 1 week at room temperature or 1 month in the fridge or freezer.  

Coffee Frosting makes about 200g (1 cup)

  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick, 115g) butter, at room temperature
  • ¼ cup (40g) confectioners’ sugar
  • ¼ cup (55g) milk
  • ¾ teaspoon (1.5g) instant coffee powder
  • ¼ teaspoon (1g) kosher salt

(1) Combine the butter and confectioners’ sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and cream together on medium-high for 2 to 3 minutes, until fluffy and pale yellow. (2) Meanwhile, make a quick coffee milk: whisk together the milk, instant coffee, and salt in a small bowl. (3) Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula. On low speed, gradually stream in the coffee milk. You are essentially forcing liquid into fat, so be patient. The butter mixture will clump up and separate upon contact with the coffee milk. Do not stream more coffee milk into the butter mixture until the previous addition is fully incorporated; keep the mixer on and remain patient. The result will be a wildly fluffy coffee frosting, pale brown and super-shiny. Use immediately.

TV dinner {Downton Abbey}

ladygreymacarons1 I've had my heart broken many times... by Julian Fellowes. After the last season of Downton Abbey, I vowed I was done with the show. No more Downton. No more Lady Mary. Not even the Dowager Countess.

After Sybil, there was just too much of this...

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and last year's season finale that aired on freakin' CHRISTMAS caused even more of this...

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I was too frustrated and exhausted to continue. But now that I've had almost a full year to recover, the scars are slowly starting to heal. Now for us non-UKers, the new season has yet to premiere in the States. Yet somehow I've been watching the new episodes online (don't worry, I'll watch them when they air on PBS too!) and of course I find myself, once again, wrapped up in the storylines of Carson and Branson and wily Thomas... even Edith! I will not give away any spoilers for my fellow American fans. Instead I'll provide you with a delicious recipe!

If this was season 1, I'd likely be making Mrs. Padmore's (salty) raspberry meringue or perhaps some Turkish delights? But let's be honest, I watch the show for Lady Mary. She is my pale complexioned, elitist, English counterpart. And a refined lady deserves a refined dessert. These are my Lady (Mary) Grey Macarons. A delicate French dessert inspired by my favorite tea, Lady Grey. This tea, named after Lady Mary Grey (seriously, this was a real person) is an Earl Grey with hints of orange and lemon. Perfect for afternoon tea!

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This was my first attempt at making French macarons. I'd been too intimated and terrified to make them before, having heard such horror stories of cracked macarons, overwhipped macarons, underwhipped macarons, mutant macarons. But for this being my first attempt, I think they turned out pretty well and were not nearly as hard to make as I thought.

Macarons are perhaps my favorite dessert and I loved the texture and flavor of these cookies-- the floral Earl Grey with the fragrant citrus was honestly di-vine. I will be utilizing this macaron recipe as a base for all other variations in the future. Essentially, the difficulty in making macarons is that they are composed of only a few, simple ingredients that must be handled very precisely. Almond flour, egg white, sugar, water. That's all you need to make the cookie parts. That's why it's so important to get the best, freshest ingredients. And I'm sorry to have to say this, but you're gonna need a scale (and thermometer) for this recipe. I wouldn't trust myself to make this recipe without one. They're like $10 and don't take up much space... a pretty worthy investment if you're crazy enough to make macarons in the first place!

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I really liked the look of the speckled tea leaves in the macaron cookies. The tea I used was extremely fresh (my sweet coworker Christina got me a cannister on her recent trip to London) but if you decide to use crushed leaves from tea bags that's fine too, just don't be afraid to amp up the flavor!

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Two things I would change the next time I make these: (1) Don't whip the egg whites as much. Once they are glossy, stop! I think my macaron batter was a tad on the thick side. (2) Grind the almond meal/powdered sugar mixture in the food processor before sifting. I had a few chunks in my almond meal which I didn't discard and resulted in a some lumps in the final cookies. Luckily, the flavor was perfect so I'll be a little forgiving on the presentation. As my friend Katherine said, 'these taste like HEAVEN!' (I have really hungry friends.)

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The filling was something I came up with on-the-fly. I wanted something very light but super smooth and luxurious. Since Lady Grey tea gets its distinction from the flavors of orange and lemon peel, I wanted to incorporate this into the macaron without overpowering it. Curd is one of my favorite things. I could/do eat it straight out of the container with a spoon. So a curd filling made from the zest and juice of orange and lemon seemed like the way to go. Mixed with some (more) butter and powdered sugar, it was really the ideal companion to the Earl Grey.

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If you use the template correctly, all your macarons should be around the same size. Yet I find that some halves match up better than others. Make sure each macaron cookie finds his/her soulmate. Just like Mary and Matthew... [insert sudden spurts of sobbing]

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It's alright-- chin up! Here's to the weekend. And to Lady Grey macarons.

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Lady Grey Macarons based on Bouchon Bakery makes 30 mini macarons

  • 212 grams almond flour/meal
  • 212 grams powdered sugar
  • 82 grams + 90 grams egg whites, separated
  • 4 grams loose leaf Earl Grey tea, finely crushed
  • 236 grams + a pinch granulated sugar
  • 158 grams water

special equipment:

  • pastry bag with ½-inch tip (#12)
  • digital scale
  • candy thermometer 

(1) Because the cookies will be sandwiched, it is important that they be as close in size as possible. Even if you are proficient with a pastry bag, we suggest making a template, as we do. Use a compass or a cookie cutter as a guide and a dark marking pen, such as a fine-tip Sharpie. Lay a sheet of parchment paper on the work surface with a long side closest to you. Trace 5 even spaced 1½-inch circles along the top long edge, leaving 1 inch of space around them. Trace 4 circles below them, spacing them between the first circles. Continue with another row of 4, followed by another row of 3. Turn the parchment over and lay it on a sheet pan. Lift up each corner of the parchment and spray the underside with nonstick spray to keep it from blowing up while the cookies are baking. Repeat with a second sheet pan and piece of parchment paper. (2) Preheat the oven to 350°F. (3) Place the almond flour in a food processor and pulse to grind it as fine as possible. Sift the almond flour and powdered sugar into a large bowl and whisk together. (4) Mound the almond flour mixture, then make a 4-inch well in the center, leaving a layer of the flour at the bottom. Pour in the 82 grams egg whites and combine with a spatula. Add the tea grounds to the mixture, stirring until evenly distributed. Set aside. (5) Place the remaining 90 grams egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment. (6) Combine the 236 grams granulated sugar and the water in a small sauce pan and heat over medium-high until the syrup reaches 203°F/110°C. (7) Letting the syrup continue to cook, add the pinch of sugar to the egg whites, turn the mixer to medium speed, and whip to soft peaks. If the whites reach soft peaks before the syrup reaches 248°F/120°C, reduce the speed to the lowest setting, just to keep them moving. (8) When the syrup reaches 248°F/120°C, remove the pan from the heat. Turn the mixer to medium-low speed, and slowly add the syrup, pouring it between the side of the bowl and the whisk; the meringue will deflate. (9) Increase the speed to medium and whip for 5 minutes, or until the whites hold stiff, glossy peaks. Although the bowl will still be warm to the touch, the meringue should have cooled; if not, continue to whip until it is cool. (10) Fold one-third of the meringue into the almond mixture, then continue adding the whites a little at a time (you may not use them all) until when you fold a portion of the batter over on itself, the “ribbon” slowly moves. The mixture shouldn’t be so stiff that it holds its shape without moving at all, but it shouldn’t be so loose that it dissolves into itself and doesn’t maintain the ribbon; it is better for the mixture to be slightly stiff than too loose. (11) Transfer the mixture to the pastry bag with the ½-inch tip. Hold the bag upright ½ inch above the center of one of the traced circles and pipe out enough of the mixture to fill in the circle. Lift away the pastry bag and fill the remaining circles on the first pan. Lift up the sheet pan and tap the bottom of the pan to spread the batter evenly and smooth any peaks left by the pastry bag. (12) Place the sheet pan in the oven, immediately lower the oven temperature to 325°F, and bake for 9 to 12 minutes, until the tops are shiny and crisp. Set the pan on a cooling rack and cool completely. If using a standard oven, preheat it to 350°F again. (13) Pipe the remaining meringue mixture into the circles on the second sheet pan. Feel free to decorate these halves with some sprinklings of more tea grounds.  Bake as directed above. Let cool completely. (14) To fill the cookies, transfer the orange lemon buttercream to the pastry bag with the ½-inch tip. Remove the macarons from the parchment paper. Turn half of them over. Starting in the center, pipe about 2 teaspoons of the buttercream in a spiral pattern on one upside-down macaron, not quite reaching the edges. Top with a second macaron and press gently to spread the buttercream to the edges. Repeat with the remaining macarons and filling. The macarons are best if wrapped individually in a few layers of plastic wrap and frozen for at least 24 hours or up to 2 weeks. Defrost in the refrigerator for 3 hours, then bring to room temperature before serving. They can be served the day they are made or stored in a covered container in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.

Orange Lemon Buttercream makes 1½ cups

  • 1 stick unsalted butter, room temperature
  • ¼ cup powdered sugar, sifted
  • ¾ cup orange lemon curd, recipe follows 

(1) Place the butter and powdered sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer attached with a paddle attachment. Beat on medium for 3 minutes until completely smooth. (2) Turn the mixer to low and add the orange-lemon curd. Continue to beat for another 2-3 minutes. Set aside until ready to fill cookies.   Orange Lemon Curd makes 1 cup

  • 3 egg yolks
  • 1 whole egg
  • ½ cup granulated sugar
  • zest of one lemon
  • zest of ½ orange
  • ¼ cup lemon juice
  • ¼ cup orange juice
  • 4 tablespoons unsalted butter, cold and cut into small cubes

(1) In a small saucepan, whisk together egg yolk and egg until combined. While whisking, pour in sugar, lemon and orange juice, and zests, and continue whisking until creamy and well incorporated, about one minute. (2) Place over medium heat, whisking constantly, until the custard thickens and can coat the back of a wooden spoon, about 8-10 minutes. (3) Remove the pan from the heat, and stir in the butter, one cube at a time. Strain into a bowl or jar, cover surface with plastic wrap and chill in the refrigerator for at least one hour.

National Dessert Day

dessertmosaic Today, October 14 is National Dessert Day!

Who decides these things... fat people. Fat, happy, power-hungry people. If it's excuse to add just a little something sweet to your life... then why not! Here's some delicious inspiration of just some of my favorite dessert recipes. Make them to celebrate this glorious made-up holiday and spread some sweet sweet love!

While I am currently in Nashville, you know I will CERTAINLY be indulging in National Dessert Day today.

from top to bottom (L to R):

Oktoberfest

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As a celebration of the last day of Oktoberfest, I thought I would conclude with this recipe. Don't worry, it's not as complicated as that candy bar pie monstrosity I created last week. This recipe is very easy to make and a crowd pleaser-- German hot potato salad.

To be honest I'm not sure how 'German' this potato salad really is. Perhaps it was inspired by a traditional German dish or perhaps a group of Southern church ladies just decided serving it next to some hotdogs was enough to verify it as German. Regardless, it's delicious and a good alternative to a mayonnaise potato salad (which I also adore).

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If you know me at all, you also know that I LOVE potatoes. It verges on complete obsession. My motto is : I never met a potato I didn't like. And this German potato salad is one of my favorite side dishes/meals. As I made this many, many times in middle school, this recipe has a lot of fond memories to me. In this version, I decided to jazz it up with a medley of different potatoes. You can use all red new potatoes (as is usually used) but the mix of colors from these red, Yukon gold, and purple potatoes just makes the dish so much more appealing.

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I love the saltiness from the bacon, the sweetness from the onions, and the tanginess of the apple cider vinegar. You can serve it next to some sausage or bratwursts but I am perfectly content having a big bowl of just this for dinner. A pint of beer on the side is your choice.

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In addition to this German recipe, I wanted to share some Oktoberfest photos from last weekend at The Cloisters. Spectrum, a group run through The Metropolitan Museum organized this event. It was a great program with beer, pretzels, tours of the garden, and more beer. If you've never been up to The Cloisters in Manhattan, I would HIGHLY recommend you make a visit-- it truly is an oasis within the city and the perfect setting for this occasion.

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{hops in the Cloisters garden}

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German Hot Potato Salad adapted from Better Homes and Gardens makes 6 servings

  • 2 pounds new potatoes
  • 6-8 slices bacon
  • ¼ cup minced onion
  • ¼ cup sugar
  • ½ cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 cup water
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
  • 2 tablespoons corn starch
  • 1 tablespoon chives or scallions, chopped

(1) In a large covered pot, cook the potatoes in boiling water for 15 to 20 minutes or just until tender. Drain well. Cool slightly then slice into ¼-inch disks. Place in a large bowl. (2) Meanwhile, in a large skillet, cook the bacon under medium heat until completely crisp. Drain on a plate with a paper towel. (3) Reserve ¼ cup of bacon drippings in the skillet. Use the bacon fat to cook onions until browned. (4) Then add sugar, vinegar, ½ cup water, salt and pepper to the browned onions. (5) In a small bowl, dissolve the corn starch in the remaining ½ cup water. Add to the onion mixture and cook until the mixture is clear, thickened, and bubbly. Cook and stir for 2 minutes more. (6) Pour the hot mixture over the sliced, cooked potatoes. Add the crumbled bacon and if desired add additional salt and pepper to taste.  

momofuku milk bar exam no. 15 {candy bar pie}

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In the Momofuku Milk Bar cookbook, Christina Tosi describes this pie as being "a little bit of a bitch to make." So of course, I had to try it!

And I have to say, she was not lying. This is certainly the most difficult recipe I've made from this cookbook, if not ever. There are a lot of moving parts and everything has to be well orchestrated before you begin. So please please please read the directions carefully and then reread them. Picture them in your mind. Carve them into your soul. Because trust me, this pie may be a bit of a bitch to make but it is so unbelievably worth it.

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If this pie was a story, it'd be an epic saga so before I go any further you should go grab a drink and perhaps even a snack... Ok, ready? Alright well, I suppose as Julie Andrews would say, let's start from the very beginning. In this case, the beginning is a chocolate crust. Did you know that not all cocoa powders are created equal? In general, cocoa powders fall under two categories: Dutch-process cocoa powder, a much darker powder which has undergone an acid-neutralization process and natural cocoa powder, in which the cacao beans are simply roasted and pulverized. Alright, I'm just spouting whatever David Lebovitz says here. Read more about it from him, it's actually really helpful!

Most brands sold in American grocery stores (Hershey's, Nestlé) are natural cocoa powder, which is what I grew up on and still use for a majority of my recipes. But for my birthday, my friend Laura got me a small cannister of the Dutch-process stuff and holy cow! what a difference it makes.

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The Dutch-process cocoa powder gives you that really deep chocolate-y taste and almost black color (like an Oreo crust) but honestly you can use the natural kind if you're in a pinch. I "unknowingly" used natural cocoa powder to make this banana cream pie a while back and it still turned out delicious (and by "unknowingly" I mean "I-knew-the-recipe-recommended-Valrhona-cocoa-but-I'm-in-my-midtwenties-and-poor"). Who knew cocoa powder could be so amazingly complex.

The next layer in this crazy pie is the 'salty caramel'. I am completely, wholly pro-salted caramel. But I found the instructions in this recipe to be very vague. Most of the caramels I've made in the past ask for you to cook a sugar syrup to a very specific temperature but this one simply tells you to "cook and stir, cook and stir, until the caramel is a deep, dark amber, 3 to 5 minutes." Deep, dark amber... Tosiiiii, what does that mean??

So I paused the button on the salty caramel and decided to make something that looked a little simpler, the peanut brittle.

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This recipe, however, also asks you to make a caramel by cooking sugar to a deep, dark amber. A bit frazzled, I forged ahead and cooked the sugar to what I assumed is a deep, dark amber color. After it cooled, I was quite happy with the results.

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It looks deep and dark and ambery, right? I snapped a piece off the brittle to try it for myself and nope, burnt. Deep, dark burnt. Totally, completely burnt burnt burnt. It was beyond disgusting.

But I'm no brittle quitter. So take two of my deep, dark amber battle. The second time I was very cautious and heated the sugar at a slightly lower heat so that I could control it more. I'm still not sure what deep,dark amber is supposed to look like but this was the result of my successful, non-burnt tasting peanut brittle.

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Ahhhh, much better. And the good thing is that once you master the brittle, the caramel is much easier to make. This is just another lesson about the benefits of sampling your recipe as you go.

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Once I got through the deep, dark amber hurdle, I got to what had been scaring me the most about this recipe-- the nougat. Unlike the caramel and brittle, however, this DOES include specific temperatures for the sugar syrups which I find very helpful. That doesn't mean it's easy though (I'm really convincing you to make this recipe, aren't I?). To be honest, as long as you put your multi-tasking hat on you can do it. I believe in you. You can nougat.

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Up until this point, if you've gotten through the gauntlet of candy bar pie without burning yourself with hot sugar, consider it a victory! Because after the nougat, this pie is a breeze to put together. No really, just drizzle and brush on the chocolate glaze and slap on some pretzels-- easy! Cutting into this pie is a whole other story but who cares. You've looked at nougat in the eye and lived to tell the tale. Just bask in the ooey, gooey glory of your candy bar pie and enjoy!

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candy bar pie
from Momofuku Milk Bar
makes 1 (10-inch) pie; serves 8

  • 1 recipe Salty Caramel, melted
  • 1 recipe Chocolate Crust, refrigerated
  • 8 mini pretzels
  • 1 recipe Peanut Butter Nougat
  • 1½ ounces (45g) 55% chocolate
  • 1½ ounces (45g) white chocolate
  • 2 tablespoons (20g) grapeseed oil

(1) Pour the salty caramel into the crust. Return it to the fridge to set for at least 4 hours, or overnight.
(2) Heat the oven to 300°F.
(3) Spread the pretzels out on a sheet pan and toast for 20 minutes, or until they have slightly darkened in color and the kitchen smells pretzely. Set aside to cool.
(4) Fetch the pie from the fridge and cover the face of the hardened caramel with the nougat. Use the palms of your hands to press down and smooth the nougat into an even layer. Return the pie to the fridge and let the nougat firm up for 1 hour.
(5) Make a chocolate glaze by combining the chocolates and the oil in a microwave-safe bowl and gently melting them on medium in 30-second increments, stirring between blasts. Once the chocolate is melted, whisk the mixture until smooth and shiny. Use the glaze the same day, or store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 3 weeks.
(6) Finish that pie: Remove it from the refrigerator and, using a pastry brush, paint a thin layer of the chocolate glaze over the nougat, covering it completely. (If the glaze has firmed up, gently warm it so it is easy to paint on the pie.) Arrange the pretzels evenly around the edges of the pie. Use the pastry brush to paint the remaining chocolate glaze in a thin layer over the pretzels, sealing their freshness and flavor.
(7) Put the pie in the fridge for at least 15 minutes to set the chocolate. Wrapped in plastic, the pie will keep fresh in the fridge for 3 weeks or in the freezer for up to 2 months; defrost before serving.
(8) Cut the pie into 8 slices, using the pretzels as your guide: each slice should have a whole pretzel on it.

Salty Caramel
makes about 320g (1½ cups)

  • ½ cup (105g) heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons (25g) butter
  • 1 teaspoon (4g) vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon (4g) kosher salt
  • ⅔ cup (130g) sugar
  • ¼ cup (100g) glucose
  • 1 gelatin sheet [used ½ teaspoon powdered gelatin]
  • ½ cup (105g) heavy cream

(1) Put 105g (½ cup) heavy cream, butter, vanilla, and salt in a medium bowl and set aside.
(2) Make a caramel: Heat the sugar and glucose in a medium heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium-high heat. As soon as the sugar starts to melt, use a heatproof spatula to move it constantly around the pan—you want it all to melt and caramelize evenly. Cook and stir, cook and stir, until the caramel is a deep, dark amber, 3 to 5 minutes.
(3) Meanwhile, bloom the gelatin.
(4) Once the caramel has reached the target color, remove the saucepan from the heat. Very slowly and very carefully pour the remaining 105g (½ cup) heavy cream into the caramel. The caramel will bubble up and steam; stand away until the steam dissipates. Whisk the mixture together. If it is all lumpy, or there are any clumps of hardened caramel floating around the cream, put the saucepan back over medium heat and heat the mixture, whisking constantly, until all of the caramel has dissolved and the mixture is smooth; remove the pan from the heat.
(5) Whisk the bloomed gelatin into the caramel. Once all of the gelatin has dissolved, pour the caramel through a fine-mesh sieve into the bowl with the butter. Let the mixture sit, undisturbed, for 2 minutes, then begin whisking. Whisk slowly at first to prevent the hot cream from splashing up and burning you, then continue whisking until the mixture is completely homogenous.
(6) Use immediately, or store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 3 weeks. When ready to use, simply melt it in the microwave in 30-second increments, stirring between blasts until it is completely liquid.

Chocolate Crust
makes 1 (10-inch) pie crust

  • ¾ recipe (260g, 1¾ cups) Chocolate Crumb
  • 2 teaspoons (8g) sugar
  • ⅛ teaspoon (0.5g) kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon (14g) butter, melted, or as needed

(1) Pulse the chocolate crumbs in a food processor until they are sandy and no sizeable clusters remain.
(2) Transfer the sand to a bowl and, with your hands, toss with the sugar and salt. Add the melted butter and knead it into the sand until it is moist enough to knead into a ball. If it is not moist enough to do so, melt an additional 14g (1 tablespoon) butter and knead it in.
(3) Transfer the mixture to a 10-inch pie tin. With your fingers and the palms of your hands, press the chocolate crust firmly into the tin, making sure the bottom and sides of the pie tin are evenly covered. Wrapped in plastic wrap, the crust can be stored at room temp for up to 5 days or in the fridge for 2 weeks.

Chocolate Crumb
makes about 350g (2½ cups)

  • ⅔ cup (105g) flour
  • 1 teaspoon (4g) cornstarch
  • ½ cup (100g) sugar
  • ⅔ cup (65g) cocoa powder, preferably Valrhona (Dutch-process)
  • 1 teaspoon (4g) kosher salt
  • 6 tablespoons (85g) butter, melted

(1) Heat the oven to 300°F.
(2) Combine the flour, cornstarch, sugar, cocoa powder, and salt n the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and paddle on low speed until mixed.
(3) Add the butter and paddle on low speed until the mixture starts to come together in small clusters.
(4) Spread the clusters on a parchment- or Silpat-lined sheet pan. Bake for 20 minutes, breaking them up occasionally. The crumbs should still be slightly moist to the touch at that point; they will dry and harden as they cool.
(5) Let the crumbs cool completely before using in a recipe or eating. Stored in an airtight container, they will keep fresh for 1 week at room temperature or 1 month in the fridge or freezer.

Peanut Butter Nougat
makes about 250g (1 cup), or enough for 1 candy bar pie or pb&j pie

  • 2 tablespoons (25g) sugar
  • 1½ tablespoons (20g) water
  • 3 tablespoons sugar
  • 1½ tablespoons water
  • 1 egg white
  • ¼ cup (65g) Skippy peanut butter
  • ½ recipe Peanut Brittle
  • ½ teaspoon (2g) kosher salt

(1) Put the first measures of sugar and water in a tiny saucepan and gently slush the sugar around in the water until it feels like wet sand. Do the same thing with the second measure of sugar and water in another tiny saucepan.
(2) Place both saucepans on the stove and begin heating them up: turn the heat up the medium under the first sugar measurement and keep the heat low under the second measurement. Heat the first sugar up to 115°C (239°F), keeping track of the temperature with an instant-read or candy thermometer.
(3) While the sugar is heating up, put the egg white in the bowl of a stand mixer and, with the whisk attachment, begin whipping it to medium-soft peaks. If the white reaches medium-soft peaks before the first sugar hits 115°C (239°F), slow your mixer way down under the sugar and turn the speed way up on the mixer. Ideally, the white will reach medium-soft peaks at exactly the same time as the first sugar measurement hits its mark. If you can achieve this on your first try, then we have a job waiting for you in our kitchen.
(4) Once the first sugar measurement reaches 115°C (239°F), remove it from the heat and very carefully pour it into the whipping egg white, being careful to avoid the whisk: turn the mixer down to a very low speed before you do this, unless you want some interesting burn marks on your face. Once all of the sugar is successfully added to the egg white, turn the mixer speed back up and turn the heat way up under the second sugar measurement. Once this sugar reaches 120°C (248°F), remove it from the heat and pour it into the whipping egg white, taking the same precautions as with the first sugar measurement. Let the egg white whip until cool.
(5) While the white is whipping, mix the peanut butter, peanut brittle, and salt in a large bowl until well blended.
(6) Once the white has cooled to room temperature, turn the mixer off, remove this bowl, and, using a spatula, fold the white into the peanut butter mixture. Use immediately in the candy bar pie assembly. Once it cools, the nougat is only acceptable as a ridiculously delicious snack, sure to steal any peanut butter lover’s heart.

Peanut Brittle
makes about 250g (1¾ cups)

  • 1 cup sugar
  • ½ cup peanuts, skinned (blanched), unroasted and unsalted

(1) Line a quarter sheet pan with a Silpat (parchment will not work here).
(2) Make a dry caramel: Heat the sugar in a small heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium-high heat. As soon as the sugar starts to melt, use a heatproof spatula to move it constantly around the pan—you want it all to melt and caramelize evenly. Cook and stir, until the caramel is a deep, dark amber, 3 to 5 minutes.
(3) Once the caramel has reached the target color, remove the pan from the heat and, with the heatproof spatula, stir in the nuts. Make sure the nuts are coated in caramel, then dump the contents of the pan out onto the prepared sheet pan. Spread out as thin and evenly as possible. The caramel will set into a hard-to-move-around brittle mass in less than a minute, so work quickly. Let the brittle cool completely.
(4) In a zip-top bag break the brittle up into pieces as small as possible with a meat pounder or a heavy rolling pin—we grind our brittle down in the food processor to the size of short-grain rice (you don’t want anyone to chip a tooth on it!). Eat or cook with it at will. Store your brittle in an airtight container, and try to use it up within a month.

TV dinner {Parks and Recreation}

calzone1 If you want to be my friend, you have GOT to watch Parks and Recreation. Or at least pity-laugh at all my Parks & Rec references. This is one of the few shows I've actually watched since its beginning and stuck with... and I still laugh at every episode, old or new. And since the season premiere airs tomorrow on Thursday, September 26 at 8/7c, I had to make a dish to commemorate one of my (dozen) favorite shows. Welcome to the Low-Cal Calzone Zone!

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In Season 4, the ever-adorable Ben Wyatt has a bit of a meltdown. He finds himself unemployed and directionless (like being in your 20's). Instead of moping about, however, he decides to pursue his "hobbies"... claymation and a new restaurant concept he calls, The Low-Cal Calzone Zone. The claymation... turns out to be a dud. The calzone endeavor also proves to be a dud, but it does provide the genius for the second installation of my TV dinners series!

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My "low-cal calzone" is a veggie calzone, inspired by one I've had at the restaurant Marina's on the Square in Murfreesboro, TN (where I went to high school). Marina's is a charming little Italian place in "downtown" Murfreesboro. It's not fancy but so comforting and always hits the spot. Their veggie calzone is stuffed with black olives, spinach, artichoke hearts, mushrooms, and lots of cheese. So basically I decided to recreate it exactly and just call it my own.

I find veggie calzones to be more appealing because they're much lighter and don't make you feel as full or gross after eating them. A great excuse to eat more than one! If you want, you can add to your own calzone whatever your heart desires. That's the beauty of calzones-- they're fairly easy to make and very customizeable.  Plus kids love them because you get to dunk them into tomato sauce! If you prefer, you can even buy your own pizza dough at your local pizzeria (I've even seen it at Trader Joe's), just please don't get the canned Pillsbury stuff.

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With these calzones, I decided to get a little fancy. My coworker-friend Aliza bought me some of the most amazing gifts for my birthday recently, including Maldon smoked sea salt and umami paste. I used the umami paste (basically tomato paste with anchovy, black olives, heaven in a tube) in the filling and sprinkled some smoked sea salt on top of each calzone. It was di-vine! If you can splurge on a few key ingredients, go ahead...

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Lastly, an ode to possibly my favorite Parks & Rec character, TOM HAVERFORD. (Just don't tell Leslie... or Andy... or Ron. Basically anyone except Jerry.)

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Veggie Calzones aka "The Low-Cal Calzone Zone" makes 8 calzones

  • 1 recipe Calzone Dough, recipe follows
  • 1 cup black olives, sliced
  • 1 cup canned artichoke hearts, quartered
  • 2 cups fresh spinach
  • 1 cup cremini mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 cup mozzarella cheese
  • 1 cup pepper jack cheese
  • 2 tablespoons umami paste (or tomato paste)
  • 1 egg
  • ¼ cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 2 teaspoons Maldon smoked sea salt
  • crushed red pepper
  • 1 cup jarred marinara sauce (your favorite brand)

(1)    Preheat the oven to 475°F. (2)    Divide the calzone dough into 8 equal portions. On a lightly floured surface, roll out each portion of dough into a 8-inch circle. (3)    On one half of each calzone circle, add about a ¼ cup of spinach, 1 tablespoon each of black olives, artichokes, and mushrooms, and about a teaspoon of umami paste. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons of mozzarella cheese and pepper jack over the vegetables. You want to be sure to spread each ingredient evenly over the calzone half but try not to overfill it. (4)    Fold the other half of dough over itself and pinch the edges to seal. Using a fork, crimp the edges of each calzone to ensure complete closure. (5)    In a small bowl, beat the egg with a tablespoon of water. Brush the surface of the calzone with beaten egg, then sprinkle some parmesan cheese, ¼ teaspoon of garlic powder and salt, and crushed red pepper to taste. (6)    Cut two slits into the top of each calzone and bake for 9-10 minutes , or until nice and golden brown. Serve with warm marinara sauce.

Calzone Dough

  • 1 (¼ ounce) envelope active dry yeast
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 cup warm water (105-110° F)
  • 2 ½ cups all purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt

(1)    In the bowl of a stand mixer, combine yeast, sugar, and warm water; stir and let stand for 10 minutes to proof the yeast. After 10 minutes, you should see that the yeast has foamed and bubbled. (If this doesn't happen, say a small prayer and start over cause your yeast is dead.) (2)    Add 1 cup of flour, olive oil, and salt to bowl and beat at low speed, using dough hook attachment for 1 minute. (3)    Gradually add the rest of the flour until the dough begins to leave the sides of the bowl and pull together. (Note: the dough will take on a “shaggy” appearance as the flour is being added.  When enough flour has been added, the dough will look soft and smooth, not wet and sticky or overly dry with a rough surface.) (4)    Increase speed to medium and beat for 5 minutes.  Cover bowl of dough with plastic wrap and let stand in a warm place for 45 minutes or until doubled in bulk. (5)    Punch dough down and let stand another 10 minutes.  At this point, the dough is ready to use or can be wrapped up and refrigerated for up to 1 week.

momofuku milk bar exam no. 14 {compost cookies}

compostcookie Of all the Momofuku Milk Bar cookies, this one is the most daring. If you love desserts that have a salty-sweet combination then this one is FOR YOU.

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This cookie has EVERYTHING. potato chips... chocolate chips... pretzels... those chips that happen when butter and scotch have a baby...

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Now, I love salted caramel and have been dipping my Ruffles chips in Häagen-Dazs since I was four but even I was a bit scared with how they would turn out. Not because of the components themselves, but because when I had this cookie from the actual Milk Bar store, I found it a bit underwhelming. The ingredients list on the label said there were potato chips (my favorite!) and graham crackers (another favorite!) yet I couldn't taste any of these in the cookie. It was a bit disappointing but I still ate it... kinda like when you realize the Real Housewives episode you're watching is a rerun but you watch it anyway because it's still pretty entertaining.

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So after I finished making these, I taste tested one of my cookies and realized, this is no rerun, this is the deluxe season set with director's commentary! That analogy doesn't really make any sense but essentially I'm trying to tell you that they are pure salty-sweet decadence. And you should make them as soon as humanly possible (after you finish that episode you're watching of course).

The key to this dough is to not overmix the batter, otherwise the individual pieces of salty snacks become crushed in the buttery cookie dough and lose their beauty. I think that since the Milk Bar mixes their batter in such large batches, the machinery overdoes the mixing (I'm sorry Milk Bar, I still love you!). To avoid this, I even saved a handful of pretzels and potato chips to press into the top of each cookie dough mound before baking. Even compost should be beautiful.

{love watching cookies bake}

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compost cookies from Momofuku Milk Bar makes 15 to 20 cookies

  • 16 tablespoons (2 sticks, 225g) butter, at room temperature
  • 1 cup (200g) granulated sugar
  • ⅔ cup (150g) light brown sugar, tightly packed
  • 2 tablespoons (50g) glucose [can substitute with 1 tablespoon corn syrup]
  • 1 egg
  • ½ teaspoon (2g) vanilla extract
  • 1⅓ cups (225g) flour [King Arthur’s bread flour]
  • ½ teaspoon (2g) baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon (1.5g) baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon (4g) kosher salt
  • ¾ cup (150g) mini chocolate chips
  • ½ cup (100g) mini butterscotch chips [I used regular because I'm convinced mini do not exist]
  • ¼ recipe (85g, ½ cup) Graham Crust, recipe follows
  • ⅓ cup (40g) old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 2½ teaspoons (5g) ground coffee
  • 2 cups (50g) potato chips [Cape Cod recommended]
  • 1 cup (50g) mini pretzels [Snyder's recommended]

(1) Combine the butter, sugars, and glucose in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and cream together on medium-high for 2 to 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, add the egg and vanilla, and beat for 7 to 8 minutes. (2) Reduce the speed to low and add the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Mix just until the dough comes together, no longer than 1 minute. (Do not walk away from the machine during this step, or you will risk overmixing the dough.) Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula. (3) Still on low speed, add the chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, graham crust, oats, and coffee and mix just until incorporated, about 30 seconds. Add the potato chips and pretzels and paddle, still on low speed, until just incorporated. Be careful not to overmix or break too many of the pretzels or potato chips. You deserve a pat on the back if one of your cookies bakes off with a whole pretzel standing up in the center. (4) Using a 2¾-ounce ice cream scoop (or a ⅓-cup measure), portion out the dough onto a parchment-lined sheet pan. Pat the tops of the cookie dough domes flat. Wrap the sheet pan tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, or up to 1 week. Do not bake your cookies from room temperature—they will not bake properly. (5) Heat the oven to 375°F. [I always do 350°F] (6) Arrange the chilled dough a minimum of 4 inches apart on parchment- or Silpat-lined sheet pans. Bake for 18 minutes [13-15 minutes is plenty]. The cookies will puff, crackle, and spread. After 18 minutes, they should be very faintly browned on the edges yet still bright yellow in the center. Give them an extra minute or so if that’s not the case. (7) Cool the cookies completely on the sheet pans before transferring to a plate or an airtight container for storage. At room temp, cookies will keep fresh for 5 days; in the freezer, they will keep for 1 month.

Graham Crust makes about 340g (2 cups)

  • 1½ cups (190g) graham cracker crumbs
  • ¼ cup (20g) milk powder
  • 2 tablespoons (25g) sugar
  • ¾ teaspoon (3g) kosher salt
  • 4 tablespoons (½ stick, 55g) butter, melted, or as needed
  • ¼ cup (55g) heavy cream [can be omitted]

(1) Toss the graham crumbs, milk powder, sugar, and salt with your hands in a medium bowl to evenly distribute your dry ingredients. (2) Whisk the butter and heavy cream together. Add to the dry ingredients and toss again to evenly distribute. The butter will act as a glue, adhering to the dry ingredients and turning the mixture into a bunch of small clusters. The mixture should hold its shape if squeezed tightly in the palm of your hand. If it is not moist enough to do so, melt an additional 14 to 25 g (1 to 1½ tablespoons) butter and mix it in. (3) Eat immediately, or deploy as directed in a recipe. The crust is easiest to mold just after mixing. Stored in an airtight container, graham crust will keep fresh for 1 week at room temperature or for 1 month in the fridge or freezer.

TV dinner {Breaking Bad}

breakfastpizza I came to my Breaking Bad obsession late in the series, around season 4 or so. Way after all the hype had been built with massive critical and audience acclaim. But as any Breaking Bad fan knows, this is actually ideal because there's nothing better than holing yourself up to a Netflix binge weekend with Walter White and Co. Each episode is so full of suspense, so agonizing with fear and turmoil and panic and... well, I hate to use this word but, DRAMA. Not the petty kind where you find yourself consoling one of your girlfriends as she bursts into tears over brunch, but the well-crafted, deliberately timed drama that can only come from good acting and fantastic writing.

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For those of you who have yet to come to the light (of society because seriously, how have you missed this??), we are now 2 episodes into the sixth and final season. Well technically, it's a continuation of season 5 because they split the 16 episodes into two shorter seasons to prolong my state of constant physical distress. Regardless, it's back and oh-HHH-hhhh boy. There are many theories as to what will progress as the finale soon approaches but honestly, I'm not a TV writer. If I were it'd be about much less exciting things like Why I've Stopped Separating My Colors and Whites in the Laundry or How to Avoid Eye Contact with Subway Rats, so I'll leave this to Vince Gilligan.

As a testament to my fan devotion, however, I created a dish inspired by the series (also the first installment of my new culinary venture titled TV dinners). I spent a lot of time deciding what to make for y'all. The obvious choice was a dessert with 'blue meth' aka dyed sugar candy or some Los Pollos Hermanos fried chicken but c'mon, that's for the novice fan. That's when I remembered this little gem from season 3.

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That's right, ROOF PIZZA how could I have forgotten! As a a refresher, during season 3 our friend W.W. is having a bit of family trouble. It happens with meth dealers. Essentially he's been kicked out of the house by his wife, (evil) Skyler and in an attempt to win some favor, Walt comes over with a huge pizza with the hopes of family bonding. Obviously, it doesn't bode well for Walt (or the pizza).

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As my first TV dinner, this pizza is not your ordinary pizza. It's a breakfast pizza. That's right. Breakfast. Pizza. Because if there's one thing the White family can agree upon, it's their love of breakfast (especially Walt Jr. ). In the show, these breakfast scenes of family normalcy often take place after Walt's all-night meth cooking sessions or Mexican border death matches, and really serve as a nice contrast to show just how messed up his life is.

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The only roof this pizza should hit however, is the roof of your mouth. It has all the things you'd find on the White's breakfast table: eggs, coffee, and a little smoky smokiness from the bacon jam. So good yet soooo BAD...

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breakfast pizza based on the Big Sur Bakery Cookbook Makes 2 (12-inch) pizzas

  • ¾ cup lukewarm water
  • ½ teaspoon dry active yeast
  • 2 cups plus 2 tablespoons bread flour, plus more for dusting
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus additional for seasoning
  • Bacon Jam (recipe below)
  • ½ cup grated Parmesan
  • 2 cups grated mozzarella
  • 6 large eggs
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons minced flat-leaf parsley
  • 2 tablespoons minced chives
  • 2 scallions, thinly sliced
  • 1 shallot, minced

(1) The night before, prepare the dough: Place ¾ cup lukewarm water in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with a dough hook. Sprinkle in the yeast, stir and let sit for 5 minutes. (2) Add the flour and 1 teaspoon of salt and mix on low for 1 minute. Increase the speed to medium and mix for 2 minutes, then increase the speed to high and mix until a smooth dough forms, about 2 minutes more. (3) Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface, divide into two equal pieces and form each half into a tight ball. Place on a large floured sheet pan, cover in plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. (4) Two hours before baking, place the dough in a warm spot. While the dough rests, prepare the toppings for the pizza. (5) Adjust the oven rack to the lowest position and set a pizza stone on it. Preheat the oven to 500 degrees, 30 minutes before you are ready to bake the pizza. (6) Dip your hands and a ball of dough into the flour. On a lightly floured countertop, pat the dough into a disc with your fingertips, then drape the dough over your fists and carefully stretch it from beneath to form a 12-inch circle. (7) Generously dust the surface of a pizza peel or large inverted sheet pan with flour and place the stretched dough on it. Sprinkle the dough with half of the Parmesan and mozzarella, making sure to leave a ½ inch margin around the edge. Put small dollops of the bacon jam on the dough. Crack 3 eggs over the top and season with salt and pepper. (8) If using a pizza peel, shake the peel slightly to make sure the dough is not sticking. Carefully lift any sections that are sticking and sprinkle a bit more flour underneath, then slide the pizza directly onto the baking stone in one quick forward-and-back motion. (9) Bake for 8 to 10 minutes, rotating after 5 minutes. When the crust is golden, the cheese is melted and the egg yolks are cooked, use the peel to transfer the pizza to a cutting board. (10) Sprinkle half of the parsley, chives, scallions and shallot on top. Let cool for 2 minutes, slice and serve immediately. Prepare the second pizza in the same way.

bacon jam makes about 1 cup from The Delicious Life

  • ½ pound bacon
  • ½ medium onion, chopped
  • 4 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
  • ¼ cup packed brown sugar (substitute up to 2 tablespoons with maple syrup to maple bacon jam!)
  • ¼ cup brewed coffee

(1) In a large pot, cook bacon until just starting to brown and crisp at edges. Remove cooked bacon to paper towel-lined plate to cool and drain off grease. Pat with additional paper towels. When cool, chop the bacon into bit-size pieces. (2) Pour off all but 1 tablespoon bacon fat from pot. Turn heat down to medium low. Add onions and garlic, and cook until onions are translucent. Add vinegar, brown sugar, and coffee. Bring to a boil. Add cooked chopped bacon.

If You Are Cooking on Stovetop: (3) Turn down heat to the lowest setting and allow to simmer for about 1½ hours, stirring every few minutes, until most of the liquid has evaporated and what is left is syrupy. Do not leave the pot unattended because 1. that’s just not safe no matter what and 2. there is a lot of sugar from the onions and well, the sugar, so it can burn easily.  If You Are Using a Crockpot/Slow Cooker:  (3) Pour the contents of the pot into the crockpot. Cook on high for about 3 hours.) [To make the breakfast pizza, STOP at this point. However, if you desire a smoother jam consistency, continue onto Step 4]

(4) Transfer the cooked bacon jam to a food processor. Pulse until you get the consistency of chunky jam. Bacon jam is sticky, sweet, slightly smoky, and a little bit “crunchy” from crisped parts of cooked bacon. Store covered in the refrigerator. I have no idea how long it keeps, but based on my recipe research, it seems like a few weeks. I doubt you will have any left after 3 days.

momofuku milk bar exam no. 13 {cheesecake ice cream}

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Ice cream is not a seasonal food but it tastes especially good during the summer, doesn't it? Eaten in a cool air conditioned room, of course.

Cheesecake ice cream is actually one of my favorite flavors (the graham crackers are a necessity) so I was very excited to make this recipe. While traditional ice cream bases require the technique of tempering egg yolks in heated cream, in this recipe the egg is baked in the liquid cheesecake thus no risk of scrambled eggs in your ice cream.

If you have an ice cream machine, it comes together in a pinch! Unfortunately, I don't have space in my New York apartment for one so I maximized on my visit home and used my mom's... it was a mutually beneficial exchange. My mom is actually quite the ice cream fiend-- a lean mean Häagen-Dazs eating machine.  One time I found a photo of her in the late 80's smiling proudly, showcasing a delicious Häagen-Dazs cone in one hand. And a baby (me) dangling in her other hand. The fact that the ice cream took priority only makes me proud to be her daughter.

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Originally, this ice cream is meant to be eaten as soft serve as it's sold at the Momofuku Milk Bar stores. I can see why, because once completely frozen, you might as well be scooping marble! When slightly thawed though, it's worth the wrist pain. You could even add some strawberries or blueberries during the churning process to make it even more summer appropriate. Or better yet go all out and sandwich it between some blueberry and cream, confetti, or corn cookies. Again, this is completely fine to eat all year round no matter what season.

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cheesecake ice cream from Momofuku Milk Bar makes about 450g (1 pint)

  • 1 gelatin sheet (½ teaspoon powdered gelatin)
  • 1 cup (220g) milk
  • ½ recipe Liquid Cheesecake
  • 1 tablespoon (15g) sour cream
  • ½ cup (85g, ¼ recipe) Graham Crust
  • ¼ cup (20g) milk powder
  • ½ teaspoon (2g) kosher salt

(1) Bloom the gelatin. (2) Warm a little bit of the milk and whisk in the gelatin to dissolve. (3) Transfer the gelatin mixture to a blender, add the remaining milk, the liquid cheesecake, sour cream, graham crust, milk powder, and salt, and puree until smooth and even. Don’t be stingy on the blending time: you want to make sure the graham crust is completely liquefied; otherwise your cheesecake ice cream will be missing that flavor. (4) Pour the ice cream base through a fine-mesh sieve into your ice cream machine and freeze according to the manufacturer’s instructions. The ice cream is best spun just before serving or using, but it will keep in an airtight container in the freezer for up to 2 weeks.

Liquid Cheesecake makes about 325g (1¼ cups)

  • 8 ounces (225g) cream cheese
  • ¾ cup (150g) sugar
  • 1 tablespoon (6g) cornstarch
  • ½ teaspoon (2g) kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons (25g) milk
  • 1 egg

(1)   Heat the oven to 300° F. (2)   Put the cream cheese in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and mix on low speed for 2 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula. Add the sugar and mix for 1 to 2 minutes, until the sugar has been completely incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl (3)   Whisk together the cornstarch and salt in a medium bowl. Whisk in the milk in a slow, steady stream, then whisk in the egg until the slurry is homogenous. (4)   With the mixer on medium-low speed, stream in the egg slurry. Paddle for 3 to 4 minutes, until the mixture is smooth and loose. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. (5)   Line the bottom and sides of a 6x6 inch baking pan with plastic wrap. Poor the cheesecake batter into the pan, put the pan in the oven, and bake for 15 minutes. Gently shake the pan. The cheesecake should be firmer and more set toward the outer boundaries of the baking pan but still be jiggly and loose in the dead center. If the cheesecake is jiggly all over, give it 5 minutes more. And 5 minutes more if it needs it, but it’s never taken me more then 25 minutes to underbake one. If the cheesecake rises more than a ¼ inch or begins to brown, take it out of the oven immediately. (6)   Cool the cheesecake completely, to finish the baking process and allow the cheesecake to set. The final product will resemble a cheesecake, but it will be pipeable and pliable enough to easily spread or smear, while still having body and volume. Once cool, the cheesecake can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 1 week.

Graham Crust makes about 340g (2 cups)

  • 1½ cups (190g) graham cracker crumbs
  • ¼ cup (20g) milk powder
  • 2 tablespoons (25g) sugar
  • ¾ teaspoon (3g) kosher salt
  • 4 tablespoons (½ stick, 55g) butter, melted, or as needed
  • ¼ cup (55g) heavy cream

(1) Toss the graham crumbs, milk powder, sugar, and salt with your hands in a medium bowl to evenly distribute your dry ingredients. (2) Whisk the butter and heavy cream together. Add to the dry ingredients and toss again to evenly distribute. The butter will act as a glue, adhering to the dry ingredients and turning the mixture into a bunch of small clusters. The mixture should hold its shape if squeezed tightly in the palm of your hand. If it is not moist enough to do so, melt an additional 14 to 25 g (1 to 1½ tablespoons) butter and mix it in. (3) Eat immediately, or deploy as directed in a recipe. The crust is easiest to mold just after mixing. Stored in an airtight container, graham crust will keep fresh for 1 week at room temperature or for 1 month in the fridge or freezer.

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On my recent trip back home, my family and I stopped by the Georgia Aquarium in Atlanta. As someone who complains about the summer heat a lot, I find aquariums ideal. Pretty, colorful animals that don't smell in a contained cool space... perfect!

Apparently everyone else thought so too because this place was packed on a Tuesday afternoon. Nonetheless, I managed to snap a few gems that captured some of the beauty of these creatures.

There's no Momofuku Milk Bar Exam today, but don't worry, I have something lined up very soon! And remember: FISH ARE FRIENDS, NOT FOOD.

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Georgia Aquarium 357 Luckie Street, NW Atlanta, GA 30313 [entrance to parking garage] (404) 581-4000

tip: make sure to see the dolphin show that occurs at designated times throughout the day... I'm sorry I mean, dolphin 'musical'. It's very kid-oriented but still quite spectacular.

momofuku milk bar no. 12 {confetti cookies}

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These confetti cookies are a cause for celebration... say for a wedding, birthday, graduation, or perhaps the BIRTH OF THE NEW PRINCE OF CAMBRIDGE!

I admit, I have been completely overcome with royal baby fever. I know I know, all babies are precious and unique and AHHH Kate Middleton just gave birth and looks beautiful! Her hair! Her wedges! Polka dots! Am I obsessed? No no... AHHH royal baby's first princely duties are a-DOR-able!

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All joking aside, these cookies are really perfect for any occasion. They're chewy, buttery sugar cookies dotted with colorful specks of sprinkles. Definitely perfect for adults and children (and babies) alike.

I actually made these to congratulate a coworker on his recent wedded bliss. Make them for someone in your life to let them know how precious and unique (and adorable) you think they are.

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confetti cookies from Momofuku Milk Bar makes 15 to 20 cookies

  • 16 tablespoons (2 sticks, 225g) butter, at room temperature
  • 1½ (300g) sugar
  • 2 tablespoons (50g) glucose
  • 2 [large] eggs
  • 2 teaspoons (8g) clear vanilla extract
  • 2½ cups (400g) flour [King Arthur's bread flour]
  • ⅔ cup (50g) milk powder
  • 2 teaspoons (9g) cream of tartar
  • 1 teaspoon (6g) baking soda
  • 1¼ teaspoons (5g) kosher salt
  • ¼ cup (40g) rainbow sprinkles
  • ½ recipe Birthday Cake Crumb

(1) Combine the butter, sugar, and glucose in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and cream together on medium-high for 2 to 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, add the eggs and vanilla, and beat for 7 to 8 minutes. (2) Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the flour, milk powder, cream of tartar, baking soda, salt, and rainbow sprinkles. Mix just until the dough comes together, no longer than 1 minutes. (Do not walk away from the machine during this step, or you will risk overmixing the dough.) Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula. (3) Still on low speed, add the birthday cake crumbs and mix in for 30 seconds—just until they are incorporated. (4) Using a 2¾-ounce ice cream scoop (or a ⅓-cup measure), portion out the dough onto a parchment-lined sheet pan. Pat the tops of the cookie dough domes flat. Wrap the sheet pan tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, or up to 1 week. Do not bake your cookies from room temperature—they will not bake properly. (5) Heat the oven to 350°F. (6) Arrange the chilled dough a minimum of 4 inches apart on parchment- or Silpat-lined sheet pans. Bake for 18 minutes (Mine were done at 13-14 minutes). The cookies puff, crackle, and spread. After 18 minutes, they should be very lightly browned on the edges (golden brown on the bottom). The centers will show just the beginning signs of color. Leave the cookies in the oven for an additional minute or so if the colors don’t match and the cookies still seem pale and doughy on the surface. (7) Cool the cookies completely on the sheet pans before transferring to a plate or an airtight container for storage. At room temp, the cookies will keep fresh for 5 days; in the freeze, they will keep for 1 month.

Birthday Cake Crumb makes for 275g (2¼ cups)

  • ½ cup (100g) granulated sugar
  • 1½ tablespoons (25g) light brown sugar, tightly packed
  • ¾ cup (90g) cake flour
  • ½ teaspoon (2g) baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon (2g) kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons (20g) rainbow sprinkles
  • ¼ cup (40g) grapeseed oil
  • 1 tablespoon (12g) clear vanilla extract

(1) Heat the oven to 300°F. (2) Combine the sugars, flour, baking powder, salt, and sprinkles in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and mix on low speed until well combined. (3) Add the oil and vanilla and paddle again to distribute. The wet ingredients will act as glue to help the dry ingredients form small clusters; continue paddling until that happens. (4) Spread the cluster on a parchment- or Silpat-lined sheet pan. Bake for 20 minutes, breaking them up occasionally. The crumbs should still be slightly moist to the touch; they will dry and harden as they cool. (5) Let the crumbs cool completely before using in a recipe or scarfing by the handful. Stored in an airtight container, the crumbs will keep fresh for 1 week at room temperature or 1 month in the fridge or freezer.

momofuku milk bar no. 11 {bagel bombs}

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Sometimes savory is better than sweet. And since it's been a bit of a sweets overload on this site, this was a great palette cleanser.

These bagel bombs are little pockets of dough filled with bacon-scallion cream cheese and sprinkled with an everything bagel mix of sesame, poppy seeds, onions, and garlic. I cannot express to you how delicious they are! You will want to harbor them all to yourself.

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{people of the world... SPICE UP YA LIFE!}

I made these on Sunday while watching Andy Murray take the Wimbledon final. Did I feel a little guilty making these treats of fatty doughy goodness while witnessing such physical feats of tennis... not once I bit into the first of my two bagel bombs.

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I was quite intimidated by this recipe at first-- yeast doughs seem to scream 'EXPERT level only'. There's usually specific water temperatures involved and double proofing to be done, yet this recipe was very straightforward. The dough has only four ingredients (one being water) and comes together in several minutes with the help of a stand mixer.

The cream cheese plugs were fun to make too. In the cookbook, Christina also suggests a veggie version with dill and cucumber which sounds amazing! I've search the blogosphere and others who have tackled this recipe have taken liberty with the filling too... next time I will add some fresh jalapenos to mine.

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Once all the parts are made, these come together in a snap. I would recommend baking them at a higher temperature than the cookbook states (350-375°F as opposed to 325°F) to get your bagel bombs a more golden brown hue.

Once they're out of the oven, make sure to eat them while they're still warm or heat them up a bit in the microwave before stuffin' yo face!

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bagel bombs from Momofuku Milk Bar makes 8 bombs

  • ½ recipe Mother Dough, proofed
  • 1 recipe Bacon, Scallion, Cream Cheese Plugs, frozen
  • 1 egg
  • ½ teaspoon (4g) water
  • 1 recipe Everything Bagel Mix

(1) Heat the oven to 325°F. (2) Punch down and flatten the dough on a smooth, dry countertop. Use a dough cutter to divide the dough into 8 equal pieces. Use your fingers to gently stretch each piece of dough out into a mini pizza between 2 to 3 inches wide. (3) Put a cream cheese plug in the center of each dough circle. Bring up the edges of each round and pinch to seal so that the cream cheese plug is completely contained, then gently roll the ball between the palms of your hands to ensure the bomb has a nice, round, dinner roll-y shape. Arrange the bombs 4 inches apart on a parchment- or Silpat-lined baking sheet. (4) Whisk the egg and water together and brush a generous coat of egg wash on the buns. Sprinkle a heavy even coating of the bagel mix all over the bagel bombs—every possible inch, except for the bottoms, should be coated. (5) Bake the bagel bombs for 20 to 30 minutes [After 15 minutes, I raised the temperature to 375°F as they were on the paler side]. While in the oven, the bombs will become a deep golden brown and a few may have cream cheese explosions. Continue baking until you see this happen! Not to worry—serve them as is or use your fingers to tuck the cream cheese back inside the bagel bomb. Bagel bombs are best served warm out of the oven—or flashed in the oven later to warm and serve. If you can’t finish them all right away, once they are cool, wrap them well in plastic and store them in the fridge for up to 3 days.  

Mother Dough makes about 850g (2 pounds)

  • 3½ cups (550g) flour [King Arthur bread flour]
  • 1 tablespoon (12g) kosher salt
  • ½ packet or 1⅛ teaspoons (3.5g) active dry yeast
  • 1¾ cups (370g) water, at room temperature
  • grapeseed oil

(1) Stir together the flour, salt, and yeast in the bowl of your stand mixer—do it by hand, using the dough hook like a spoon. Continue stirring by hand as you add the water, mixing for 1 minute, until the mixture has come together into a shaggy mass. (2) Engage the bowl and hook and have the machine mix the dough on the lowest speed for 3 minutes, or until the ball of dough is smoother and more cohesive. Then knead for 4 more minutes on the lowest speed. The dough should look like a wet ball and should bounce back softly when prodded. (3) Brush a large bowl with oil and dump the dough into it. Cover with plastic wrap and let the dough proof at room temperature for 45 minutes. (4) The dough is ready to be used as directed in the following recipes. If you do not plan to use your mother dough the day you make it, you can store it in an airtight container at least twice its size in the fridge for up to 3 days. Take it out of the fridge and let it come to room temperature 30 to 45 minutes before using.  

Bacon, Scallion, Cream Cheese Plugs makes enough for 1 recipe bagel bombs

  • 1¾ ounces (50g) bacon, the smokier the better [about 3 strips]
  • 7 ounces (200g) cream cheese [or just use the whole 8 ounce block, what am I going with 1 ounce of cream cheese?]
  • 2 g scallion greens, thinly sliced [2 scallions]
  • 1 teaspoon (5g) sugar
  • ½ teaspoon (2g) kosher salt

(1) Cook the bacon in a skillet over medium heat until it’s auburn brown and crunchy. Remove it from the pan and chop it into small pieces; reserve it and, separately, the bacon fat in the pan. (2) Put the cream cheese in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and cream it on medium speed. Pour in the reserved bacon fat and paddle to combine. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the chopped bacon, scallions, sugar, and salt and paddle briefly to incorporate. (3) Scoop the cream cheese mixture onto a quarter sheet pan in 8 even lump. Freeze until rock hard, 1 to 3 hours. (4) Once the plugs are frozen solid, they are ready to be used, or they can be stored in an airtight container in the freezer for up to 1 month.  

Everything Bagel Mix

  • ¾ teaspoon (3g) kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon (6g) white sesame seeds
  • 2 teaspoons (4g) black sesame seeds
  • 2 teaspoons (4g) poppy seeds
  • 1 tablespoon (4g) dried onions
  • ½ teaspoon (2g) onion powder
  • ¼ teaspoon (1g) garlic powder

Mix together the salt, sesame seeds, poppy seeds, dried onions, onion powder, and garlic powder in an airtight container. The mix keeps forever in the pantry, but it is best used within 6 months.

momofuku milk bar exam no. 10 {carrot cake truffles}

carrotcaketruffles1 You didn't think I let those carrot layer cake scraps go to waste, did you??

Whew! Good, that's what I thought. Honestly, if you've already made the carrot layer cake, there's no excuse not to make these. But if you haven't gone through the trouble of making a rather complicated 3-layer carrot cake you should STILL make these. They're easier to make than the actual cake, and dare I say... I think I liked them better.

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Making these carrot cake truffles is basically a delicious assembly line: roll out the cake-cheesecake mixture, enrobe in white chocolate, cover in milk crumbs. Your hands will become incredibly messy in the process so just embrace it.

Unless you make a large batch, do not take these to a huge party. I only got a dozen truffles from the scraps and doling them out to my coworkers made me feel like I was giving away roses on The Bachelorette.

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carrot cake truffles from Momofuku Milk Bar makes twelve to fifteen 30 g (1 ounce) balls

(1) Combine the carrot cake scraps and 25 g (2 tablespoons) liquid cheesecake in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and paddle until moist enough to knead into a ball. If it is not moist enough to do so, add up to 25 g (2 tablespoons) more liquid cheesecake and knead it in. (2) Using a soup spoon [I used a tablespoon], portion out 12 even balls, each half the size of a Ping-Pong ball. Roll each one between the palms of your hands to shape and smooth it into a round sphere. (3) Put the ground milk crumbs in a medium bowl. With latex gloves on, put 2 tablespoons of the white chocolate in the palm of your hand and roll each ball between your palms, coating it in a thin layer of melted chocolate; add more chocolate as needed. (4) Put 3 to 4 chocolate-covered balls at a time into the bowl of milk crumbs. Immediately toss them with the crumbs to coat, before the chocolate shell sets and no longer acts as a glue (if this happens, just coat the ball in another thin layer of melted chocolate). (5) Refrigerate for at least 5 minutes to fully set the chocolate shells before eating or storing. In an airtight container, the truffles will keep for up to 1 week in the fridge.

momofuku milk bar exam no. 9 {carrot layer cake}

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Oh, I've missed y'all so much.

I have been slacking in the blogging, I know... it's been for valid reasons if that makes it any better (it doesn't). All great excuses: the Met Gala (!!!), moving office spaces, and being the maid of honor at my friend Rebecca's wedding. But my priorities are back in order now and the Momofuku Milk Bar Exams are back on! Which is great because this recipe is a true showstopper.

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{carrot caps}

I (and my friend Katherine) have been wanting this carrot cake for so long, you would not believe it. But I knew I wanted to save it for a special occasion... cue the engagement of my coworkers Kraig and Myriam! It was perfect timing and partly planned/completely accidental that this 'carat' cake was apropos for an engagement theme. I thought I was some sort of genius for coming up with this tasty pun but alas no, Betty Crocker (amongst a million others) had beaten me to the punch! One of these days, Betty...

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Although it may not look like it, this carrot cake is actually pretty traditional in its flavors. There's the fresh carrots, the cream cheese, the cinnamon. No raisins, no walnuts, no pineapples (thank goodness). When it comes to carrot cakes, I'm a purist. What makes this recipe so unique however are the Momofuku-esque touches such as the milk crumbs and graham frosting which really elevate it in the best possible way! Once again, these crumbs are changing my life... there is now a clear division of B.C. (before crumbs) and A.C. (after crumbs) with which I will now live my life by.

The only alterations I made to the recipe were purely aesthetic. The carrot curls on top are an addition that make this cake truly worthy of an engagement celebration, don't you think? I love the pop of color! If you don't love your friends and family as much as I do, you can totally do without them. No judgement.

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But really, no carrot curls?? Look at them... you must be some sort of monster! Include them in your cake. Their curly cues are just too cute to deny.

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carrot layer cake makes 1 (6-inch) layer cake, 5 to 6 inches tall; serves 6 to 8

  • 1 recipe Carrot Cake
  • ¼ cup (55g) milk
  • 1 recipe Liquid Cheesecake
  • ½ recipe Milk Crumb
  • 1 recipe Graham Frosting
  • carrot curls, optional

(1) Put a piece of parchment or a Silpat on the counter. Invert the cake onto it and peel off the parchment or Silpat from the bottom of the cake. Use the cake ring to stamp out 2 circles from the cake. These are your top 2 cake layers. The remaining cake “scrap” will come together to make the bottom layer of the cake - layer 1, the bottom - (2) Clean the cake ring and place it in the center of a sheet pan lined with clean parchment or a Silpat. Use 1 strip of acetate to line the inside of the cake ring. (3) Put the cake scraps in the ring and use the back of your hand to tamp the scraps together into a flat even layer. (4) Dunk a pastry brush in the milk and give the layer of cake a good, healthy bath of half of the milk. (5) Use the back of a spoon to spread half of the liquid cheesecake in an even layer over the cake. (6) Sprinkle one-third of the milk crumbs evenly over the cheesecake. Use the back of your hand to anchor them in place. (7) Use the back of a spoon to spread one-third of the graham frosting as evenly as possible over the crumbs. - layer 2, the middle - (8) With your index finger, gently tuck the second strip of acetate between the cake ring and the top ¼ inch of the first strip of acetate, so that you have a clear ring of acetate 5 to 6 inches tall—high enough to support the height of the finished cake. Set a cake round on top of the frosting, and repeat the process for layer 1 (if 1 of you 2 cake rounds in jankier than the other, use it here in the middle and save the prettier one for the top). - layer 3, the top - (9) Nestle the remaining cake round into the frosting. Cover the top of the cake with the remaining frosting. Give it volume and swirls, or do as we do and opt for a perfectly flat top. Garnish the frosting with the remaining milk crumbs. (10) Transfer the sheet pan to the freezer and freeze for a minimum of 12 hours to set the cake and filling. The cake will keep in the freezer for up to 2 weeks. (11) At least 3 hours before you are ready to serve the cake, pull the sheet pan out of the freezer and, using your fingers and thumbs, pop the cake out of the cake ring. Gently peel off the acetate and transfer the cake to a platter or cake stand. Decorate with the essential carrot curls (if you wish). Let it defrost in the fridge for a minimum of 3 hours [best to do 5-6] (wrapped well in plastic, it can be refrigerated for up to 5 days.) (12) Slice the cake into wedges and serve.

Carrot Curl Tutorial:

  • Take a peeled carrot and cut about an inch off the bottom. Then using a peeler, continue peeling one side only until you get thin ribbons. The bigger the carrot, the broader the ribbons. Simple!

carrot cake makes 1 quarter sheet pan cake

  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick, 115g) butter, at room temperature
  • ½ cup (120g) light brown sugar, tightly packed
  • ½ cup (100g) granulated sugar
  • 2 eggs
  • ¼ cup (40g) grapeseed oil
  • 1¼ cups (200g) flour
  • 1 teaspoon (4g) baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon (1.5g) baking soda
  • ¾ teaspoon (1.5g) ground cinnamon [upped to 1 teaspoon]
  • 1¼ teaspoons (5g) kosher salt
  • 2½ cups (225g) shredded peeled carrots (2 to 3 medium-sized carrots)
  • Pam or other nonstick cooking spray (optional)

(1) Heat the oven to 350°F. (2) Combine the butter and sugars in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and cream together on medium-high for 2 to 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, add the eggs, and mix on medium-high for 2 to 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl once more. (3) On low speed, stream in the oil. Increase the mixer speed to medium-high and paddle for 4 to 6 minutes, until the mixture is practically white, twice the size of your original fluffy butter-and-sugar mixture, and completely homogenous, with no streaks of fat. Don’t rush the process. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl. (4) On very low speed, add the flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt. Mix for 45 to 60 seconds, just until your batter comes together and any remnants of dry ingredients have been incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. (5) Detach the paddle and remove the bowl from the mixer. Dump the shredded carrots into the bowl and, with a spatula, fold them into the batter. (6) Pam-spray a quarter sheet pan and line it with parchment, or just line the pan with a Silpat. Using a spatula, spread the cake batter in an even layer in the pan. (7) Bake the cake for 25 to 30 minutes. The cake will rise and puff, doubling in size, but will remain slightly buttery and dense. At 25 minutes, gently poke the edge of the cake with your finger: the cake should bounce back slightly and the center should no longer be jiggly. Leave the cake in the oven for an extra 3 to 5 minutes if it doesn’t pass these tests. (8) Take the cake out of the oven and cool on a wire rack or, in a pinch, in the fridge or freezer (don’t worry, it’s not cheating). The cooled cake can be stored in the fridge, wrapped in plastic wrap, for up to 5 days.

Liquid Cheesecake makes about 325g (1¼ cups)

  • 8 ounces (225g) cream cheese
  • ¾ cup (150g) sugar
  • 1 tablespoon (6g) cornstarch
  • ½ teaspoon (2g) kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons (25g) milk
  • 1 egg

(1)   Heat the oven to 300° F. (2)   Put the cream cheese in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and mix on low speed for 2 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula. Add the sugar and mix for 1 to 2 minutes, until the sugar has been completely incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl (3)   Whisk together the cornstarch and salt in a medium bowl. Whisk in the milk in a slow, steady stream, then whisk in the egg until the slurry is homogenous. (4)   With the mixer on medium-low speed, stream in the egg slurry. Paddle for 3 to 4 minutes, until the mixture is smooth and loose. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. (5)   Line the bottom and sides of a 6x6 inch baking pan with plastic wrap. Poor the cheesecake batter into the pan, put the pan in the oven, and bake for 15 minutes. Gently shake the pan. The cheesecake should be firmer and more set toward the outer boundaries of the baking pan but still be jiggly and loose in the dead center. If the cheesecake is jiggly all over, give it 5 minutes more. And 5 minutes more if it needs it, but it’s never taken me  more then 25 minutes to underbake one. If the cheesecake rises more than a ¼ inch or begins to brown, take it out of the oven immediately. (6)   Cool the cheesecake completely, to finish the baking process and allow the cheesecake to set. The final product will resemble a cheesecake, but it will be pipeable and pliable enough to easily spread or smear, while still having body and volume. Once cool, the cheesecake can be stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 1 week.

Milk Crumb

  • ¼ cup (20g) milk powder
  • 2 tablespoons (20g) flour
  • 1 tablespoon (6g) cornstarch
  • 1 tablespoon (12.5g) sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon (1g) kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons (¼ stick, 27.5g) butter, melted
  • 2 tablespoons (10g) milk powder
  • 1 ½ ounces (45g) white chocolate, melted

(1) Heat the oven to 250° F. (2) Combine the 20g (¼ cup) milk powder, the flour, cornstarch, sugar, and salt in a medium bowl. Toss with your hands to mix. Add the melted buter and toss, using a spatula, until the mixture starts to come together and form small clusters. (3) Spread the clusters on a parchment- or Silpat-lined sheet pan and bake for 20 minutes. The crumbs should be sandy at that point, and your kitchen should smell like buttery heaven. Cool the crumbs completely. (4) Crumble any milk crumb clusters that are larger than ½ inch in diameter and put the crumbs in a medium bowl. Add the 10 g (2 tablespoons) milk powder and toss together until it is evenly distributed throughout the mixtures. (5) Pour the white chocolate over the crumbs and toss until your clusters are enrobed. Then continue tossing them every 5 minutes until the white chocolate hardens and the clusters are no longer sticky. The crumbs will keep in an airtight container in the fridge or freezer for up to 1 month.

Graham Frosting makes about 230g (1 cup)

  • ½ recipe Graham Crust
  • ⅓ cup (85g) milk
  • ½ teaspoon (2g) kosher salt
  • 6 tablespoons (85g) butter, at room temperature
  • 1 tablespoon (15g) light brown sugar, tightly packed
  • 1 tablespoon (10g) confectioners’ sugar
  • ½ teaspoon (0.5g) ground cinnamon
  • ⅛ teaspoon (0.5g) kosher salt

(1) Combine the graham crust, milk, and salt in a blender, turn the speed on to medium-high, and puree until smooth and homogenous. It will take 1 to 3 minutes (depending on the awesomeness of your blender). If the mixture does not catch on your blender blade, turn off the blender, take a small teaspoon, and scrape down the sides of the canister, remembering to scrape under the blade, then try again. (2) Combine the butter, sugars, cinnamon, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, and cream together on medium-high for 2 to 3 minutes, until fluffy and speckled yellow. Scrape down  the sides of the bowl with a spatula. (3) On low speed, paddle in the contents of the blender. After 1 minutes, crank the speed up to medium-high and let her rip for another 2 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula. If the mixture is not a uniform pale tan, give the bowl another scrape-down and the frosting another minute of high-speed paddling. (4) Use the frosting immediately, or store it in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 1 week.

Graham Crust makes about 340g (2 cups)

  • 1½ cups (190g) graham cracker crumbs
  • ¼ cup (20g) milk powder
  • 2 tablespoons (25g) sugar
  • ¾ teaspoon (3g) kosher salt
  • 4 tablespoons (½ stick, 55g) butter, melted, or as needed
  • ¼ cup (55g) heavy cream

(1) Toss the graham crumbs, milk powder, sugar, and salt with your hands in a medium bowl to evenly distribute your dry ingredients. (2) Whisk the butter and heavy cream together. Add to the dry ingredients and toss again to evenly distribute. The butter will act as a glue, adhering to the dry ingredients and turning the mixture into a bunch of small clusters. The mixture should hold its shape if squeezed tightly in the palm of your hand. If it is not moist enough to do so, melt an additional 14 to 25 g (1 to 1½ tablespoons) butter and mix it in. (3) Eat immediately, or deploy as directed in a recipe. The crust is easiest to mold just after mixing. Stored in an airtight container, graham crust will keep fresh for 1 week at room temperature or for 1 month in the fridge or freezer.

momofuku milk bar exam no. 8 {cornflake-chocolate-chip-marshmallow cookies}

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I have to admit something... this is not my first time making these cookies. It's actually my third.

The first two times were 'test runs' aka I was craving them too badly to bother documenting them. They are that good. Some may say they're addictive, but I swear I can totally stop at ANY TIME... I just like to keep some extra cookie dough in my freezer for emergencies only I promise. If you find yourself baking a batch to share/blog, and then needing to do this another two, three times that's completely normal. And once I get off this sugar high next week, I will totally explain to you why.

{cornflake- chocolate chip- marshmallow}

These are probably unlike any cookie you've ever had before. Before Momofuku Milk Bar, my idea of a cookie fell into the typical chocolate chip, oatmeal raisin, or sugar cookie variety. Which I still love but they seem so simple now that I've tackled some of Tosi's recipes. In this cornflake-chocolate-chip-marshmallow cookie, each component adds something utterly unique: the nuttiness/crunch of the cornflakes, the richness of the chocolate chips, and the gooeyness of the marshmallows. The cookies also have a nice salty-sweet balance which only adds to their habit-forming nature.

{still love my stand mixer, Dolly}

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Now, these aren't the prettiest looking cookies, but let's face it cookies aren't really the beauty queens of desserts. Yet what this no-frills cookie lacks in looks, it makes up for in the ability to envelop you in a cookie haze. The recipe does require a little extra work as opposed to your standard cookie dough but that obviously  has not deterred me from making it multiple times.  I think you'll find the extra effort worthwhile as well. Make sure to add a couple extra marshmallows to the tops of the cookie dough mounds before baking... trust me. Just, YES.

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cornflake-chocolate-chip-marshmallow cookies from Momofuku Milk Bar makes 15 to 20 cookies

  • 16 tablespoons (2 sticks, 225g) butter, at room temperature
  • 1¼ cups (250g) granulated sugar
  • ⅔ cup (150g) light brown sugar, tightly packed
  • 1 egg
  • ½ teaspoon (2g) vanilla extract
  • 1½ cups (240g) flour [King Arthur bread flour]
  • ½ teaspoon (2g) baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon (1.5g) baking soda
  • 1¼ teaspoons (5g) kosher salt
  • ¾ recipe (3 cups, 270g) Cornflake Crunch
  • ⅔ cup (125g) mini chocolate chips
  • 1¼ cups (65g) mini marshmallows

(1) Combine the butter and sugars in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and cream together on medium-high for 2 to 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, add the egg and vanilla, and beat for 7 to 8 minutes. (2) Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Mix just until the dough comes together, no longer than 1 minute. (Do not walk away from the machine during this step, or you will risk overmixing the dough.) Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula. (3) Still on low speed, paddle in the cornflake crunch and mini chocolate chips just until they’re incorporated, no more than 30 to 45 seconds. Paddle in the mini marshmallows just until incorporated. (4) Using a 2¾-ounce ice cream scoop (or a ⅓-cup measure), portion out the dough onto a parchment-lined sheet pan. Pat the tops of the cookie dough domes flat. Wrap the sheet pan tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, or up to 1 week. Do not bake your cookies from room temperature—they will not hold their shape. (5) Heat the oven to 375°F. [I found this too high, 350°F for mine] (6) Arrange the chilled dough a minimum of 4 inches apart on parchment- or Silpat-lined sheet pans. Bake for 18 minutes [Way too long; check at 12-13 minutes]. The cookies will puff, crackle, and spread. At the 18-minute mark, the cookies should be browned on the edges and just beginning to brown toward the center. Leave them in the oven for an additional minute or so if they aren’t and they still seem pale and doughy on the surface. (7) Cool the cookies completely 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.

Cornflake Crunch

  • 5 cups (170g, ½ of a 12 ounce box) cornflakes
  • ½ cup (40g) milk powder
  • 3 tablespoons (40g) sugar
  • 1 teaspoon (4g) kosher salt
  • 9 tablespoons (130g) butter, melted

(1) Heat the oven to 275°F. (2) Put the cornflakes in a medium bowl and crush them with your hands to one-quarter of their original size. Add the milk powder, sugar, and salt and toss to mix. Add the butter and toss to coat. As you toss, the butter will act as glue, binding the dry ingredients to the cereal and creating small clusters. (3) Spread the clusters on a parchment- or Silpat-lined sheet pan and bake for 20 minutes, at which point they should look toasted, smell buttery, and crunch gently when cooled slightly and chewed. (4) Cool the cornflake crunch completely before storing or using in a recipe. Stored in an airtight container at room temperature, the crunch will keep fresh for 1 week; in the fridge or freezer, it will keep for 1 month.

momofuku milk bar exam no. 7 {banana cream pie}

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Banana pudding, Bananas Foster, banana bread... Southerners really do have a knack for turning anything remotely healthy into a decadent treat. You could put this banana cream pie at the top of that list. I'm not sure if it's purely Southern, but it's pretty darn delicious.

This was my first attempt at making and eating banana cream pie. When it comes to pies, I generally stick to either pecan pie or ones with berries. Again, this cookbook is proving to be a godsend for my culinary ignorance. My tastebuds are forever indebted.

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A traditional banana cream pie usually has a buttery pie dough or a graham cracker crust but I really liked the chocolate crumb crust here. It was not too sweet and provided a deep flavor that went so perfectly with the bananas. Plus you get to give a little oh-it's-no-big-deal shrug when people ask... "you made the cookie crumbs for the crust too?"

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I had so much fun making this pie. While a Momofuku Milk Bar recipe, this banana cream pie reminded me of something a grandma would make, the BEST grandma ever... maybe it was also the whipped cream delirium.

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banana cream pie from Momofuku Milk Bar makes 1 (10-inch) pie; serves 8 to 10

  • 1 recipe Banana Cream
  • 1 recipe Chocolate Crust
  • 1 banana, just ripe, sliced

Pour half of the banana cream into the pie shell. Cover it with a layer of sliced bananas, then cover the bananas with the remaining banana cream. The pie should be stored in the fridge and eaten within a day of when you make it.

Note: Tosi keeps her decorations to a minimum but I figured she wouldn't mind if I took some creative license. As you can see, I topped mine with about ¼ cup of whipped cream, some more sliced bananas, and a sprinkling of the chocolate crumbs. You could also use chocolate shavings, brûléed bananas, let your Milk Bar imagination go bananas (I had to).

Banana Cream makes about 775g (3 cups)

  • about 2 (225g) rrrrrripe bananas (like completely black and disgusting-looking on the outside-- trust me. I found the easiest method is to let the bananas ripen on the counter, freeze them, and then let defrost in the fridge the day before you make the pie. They'll squeeze right out like toothpaste.)
  • ⅓ cup (75g) heavy cream
  • ¼ cup (55g) milk
  • ½ cup (100g) sugar
  • 2 tablespoons (25g) cornstarch
  • ½ teaspoon (2g) kosher salt
  • 3 egg yolks
  • 2 gelatin sheets [used 1 teaspoon powdered gelatin]
  • 3 tablespoons (40g) butter
  • ½ teaspoon (25 drops) yellow food coloring (10 drops were enough for me)
  • ¾ cup (160g) heavy cream
  • 1 cup (160g) confectioners’ sugar (reduced to ½ cup, which was plenty sweet!)

(1) Combine the bananas, cream, and milk in a blender and puree until totally smooth. (2) Add the sugar, cornstarch, salt, and yolks and continue to blend until homogenous. Pour the mixture into a medium saucepan. Clean the blender canister. (3) Bloom the gelatin. In a small bowl, sprinkle the gelatin over 2 tablespoons of cold water. Let sit for about 10 minutes. (4) Whisk the contents of the pan and heat over medium-low heat. As the banana mixture heats up, it will thicken. Bring to a boil and then continue to whisk vigorously for 2 minutes to fully cook out the starch. The mixture will resemble thick glue, bordering on cement, with a color to match. (5) Dump the contents of the pan into the blender. Add the bloomed gelatin and the butter and blend until the mixture is smooth and even. Color the mixture with yellow food coloring until it is a bright cartoon-banana yellow. (It’s a ton of coloring, I know, but banana creams don’t get that brilliant yellow color on their own. Womp.) (6) Transfer the banana mixture to a heatsafe container, and put in the fridge for 30 to 60 minutes—as long as it takes to cool completely. (7) Using a whisk or a mixer with the whisk attachment, whip the cream and confectioners’ sugar to medium-soft peaks. (When you pull the whisk away from the whipped cream, the mounds of cream hold their shape softly.) Add the cold banana mixture to the whipped cream and slowly whisk until evenly colored and homogenous. Stored in an airtight container, banana cream keeps fresh for up to 5 days in the fridge.

Chocolate Crust makes 1 (10-inch) pie crust

  • ¾ recipe (260g, 1¾ cups) Chocolate Crumb
  • 2 teaspoons (8g) sugar
  • ⅛ teaspoon (0.5g) kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon (14g) butter, melted, or as needed

(1) Pulse the chocolate crumbs in a food processor until they are sandy and no sizeable clusters remain. (2) Transfer the sand to a bowl and, with your hands, toss with the sugar and salt. Add the melted butter and knead it into the sand until it is moist enough to knead into a ball. If it is not moist enough to do so, melt an additional 14g (1 tablespoon) butter and knead it in. (3) Transfer the mixture to a 10-inch pie tin. With your fingers and the palms of your hands, press the chocolate crust firmly into the tin, making sure the bottom and sides of the pie tin are evenly covered. Wrapped in plastic wrap, the crust can be stored at room temp for up to 5 days or in the fridge for 2 weeks. 

Chocolate Crumb makes about 350g (2½ cups)

  • ⅔ cup (105g) flour
  • 1 teaspoon (4g) cornstarch
  • ½ cup (100g) sugar
  • ⅔ cup (65g) cocoa powder, preferably Valrhona
  • 1 teaspoon (4g) kosher salt
  • 6 tablespoons (85g) butter, melted

(1) Heat the oven to 300°F. (2) Combine the flour, cornstarch, sugar, cocoa powder, and salt n the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and paddle on low speed until mixed. (3) Add the butter and paddle on low speed until the mixture starts to come together in small clusters. (4) Spread the clusters on a parchment- or Silpat-lined sheet pan. Bake for 20 minutes, breaking them up occasionally. The crumbs should still be slightly moist to the touch at that point; they will dry and harden as they cool. (5) Let the crumbs cool completely before using in a recipe or eating. Stored in an airtight container, they will keep fresh for 1 week at room temperature or 1 month in the fridge or freezer.

momofuku milk bar exam no. 6 {cereal milk™ white ruskie}

whiteruskie1 While I'm not a coffee drinker, I do love the smell and taste of coffee... the caffeine just gives me too much of the jitters. When coffee is incorporated into a dessert, however, I am always game. Coffee ice cream, tiramisu, my favorite chocolate cake even has coffee in the batter. This Momofuku Milk Bar recipe bridges that gap between coffee drink and coffee dessert. It's just such a desperate people pleaser that I had to show it some buzz-love.

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Momofuku Milk Bar's Cereal Milk™ White Ruskie is a twist on The Dude's favorite drink, the White Russian. It incorporates an ice cream base made from Momofuku Milk Bar's own concoction, cereal milk, and spikes it with vodka and Kahlua... this one's for not for the kiddies, folks. Although I have to say that my first experience drinking alcohol was with an accidentally spiked piña colada at the age of 9, and I turned out just fine.

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I've never had a White Russian before and I'm not sure what I was expecting, but I found this drink to be very sweet... a little too sweet and rich for me. But if you like drinking boozy custards, have at it! Maybe I can use the leftovers to make a nice cereal milk milkshake... hmm

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This is certainly one of the easiest recipes in the Momofuku Milk Bar cookbook, minimal oven time and only a handful of ingredients... but I think I'll stick to the cookies and cakes from now on. I just miss them too much.

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cereal milk™ white ruskie serves 2
  • 1 cup (200g, ¼ recipe) Cereal Milk Ice Cream base, not frozen
  • 2 teaspoons (4g) freeze-dried corn powder
  • 3 tablespoons (42g) Kahlùa
  • 3 tablespoons (42g) vodka
You don’t have to be a mixologist to bang this girl out. Whisk together the ice cream base, corn powder, Kahlùa, and vodka in a small pitcher or bowl. Pour into two ice-filled glasses. Or, if you’ve got the mixology gear, pour into a cocktail shaker filled with ice, cover, and shake until the shaker is frosty. Strain into two old-fashioned glassed filled with ice. 
Note: Again, remember you can make the freeze-dried corn powder by grinding freeze-dried corn found on Amazon, Just Tomatoes, or Momofuku Milk Bar. And make sure to use the leftovers to make Momofuku Milk Bar Exam no. 4!
 
Cereal Milk Ice Cream base makes about 800g (1 quart)
  • 1 ½ gelatin sheets [can substitute: ¾ teaspoons powdered gelatin]
  • 1 recipe Cereal Milk, recipe follows
  • 2 teaspoons (4g) freeze-dried corn powder
  • 2 tablespoons (30g) light brown sugar, tightly packed
  • ¼ teaspoon (1g) kosher salt
  • ¼ cup (29g) milk powder
  • 2 tablespoons (50g) glucose [can substitute: 1 tablespoon (18g) corn syrup] 
(1) Bloom the gelatin. (2) Warm a little bit of the cereal milk and whisk in the gelatin to dissolve. Whisk in the remaining cereal milk, the corn powder, brown sugar, salt, milk powder, and glucose until everything is fully dissolved and incorporated. [Stop here for the Cereal Milk™ White Ruskie recipe] (3) Pour the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve into your ice cream machine and freeze according to the manufacturer’s instructions. The ice cream is best spun just before serving or using, but it will keep in an airtight container in the freezer for up to 2 weeks.
 
Cereal Milk™ makes about 645g (2 ½ cups); serves 4 
  • 2 ¾ cups (100g) cornflakes
  • 3 ¾ cups (825g) cold milk
  • 2 tablespoons (30g) light brown sugar, tightly packed
  • ¼ teaspoon (1g) kosher salt
(1) Heat the oven to 300° F. (2) Spread the cornflakes on a parchment-lined sheet pan. Bake for 15 minutes, until lightly toasted. Cool completely. (3) Transfer the cooled cornflakes to a large pitcher. Pour the milk into the pitcher and stir vigorously. Let steep for 20 minutes at room temperature. (4) Strain the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve, collecting the milk in a medium bowl. The milk will drain off quickly at first then become thicker and starchy toward the end of the straining process. Using the back of a ladle (or your hand), wring the milk out of the cornflakes, but do not force the mushy cornflakes through the sieve. (We compost the cornflake remains or take them home to our dogs!) (5) Whisk the brown sugar and salt into the milk until fully dissolved. Store in a clean pitcher or glass milk jug, refrigerated, for up to 1 week.

momofuku milk bar exam: bonus points {birthday cake truffles}

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Waste not, want not.

That was the principle behind this recipe. Because, can I admit something to you... remember that delicious Apple Pie Layer Cake I made a couple weeks back? Well, I might have thrown away most of the leftover brown butter cake scraps from that-- and I've regretted it ever since! With any Momofuku Milk Bar cake, there's bound to be leftovers. But don't do what I did, the guilt is just too much to handle.

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Instead, when I found myself with leftovers from last week's Birthday Layer Cake, I decided to repurpose it Tosi-style. Hence the idea to transform all the remnants from the birthday layer cake into birthday cake truffles. It's almost worth making the entire cake just to make these truffles... actually it is most definitely worth it.

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While there's a recipe in the book for carrot cake truffles using the leftovers from the carrot layer cake, there's none for the birthday cake. No worries, I've actually tried the birthday cake truffles at Momofuku Milk Bar, so I figured I could piece together the recipe myself. And I have to say, I am quite proud of myself cause these little treats are delicious! It's all the ingredients of the birthday layer cake plus white chocolate-- of course they are!

The best part is, since you're just working with leftovers there's no baking involved. These took me less than 30 minutes to mix, roll, and coat. Reduce, Reuse, Recycle, Resist (from eating them all in one sitting).

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birthday cake truffles inspired by Momofuku Milk Bar makes about 15 cake truffles

 

  • scraps from Birthday Cake
  • 2-4 tablespoons milk
  • ½ teaspoon clear vanilla extract
  • 1 teaspoon rainbow sprinkles
  • 3 ounces white chocolate
  • about ¾ cup Birthday Crumbs, finely ground in a food processor

(1) Crumble the Birthday Cake scraps into the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Add 2 tablespoons milk, vanilla extract, and sprinkles. Combine until moist enough to knead into a ball. If it is not moist enough to do so, add more milk one tablespoon at a time. (2) Using a tablespoon, portion out about 15 even balls, each half the size of a Ping-Pong ball. Roll each one between the palms of your hands to shape and smooth it into a round sphere.  (3) Put the ground birthday crumbs in a medium bowl. With latex gloves on, put 2 tablespoons of the white chocolate in the palm of your hand and roll each ball between your palms, coating it in a thin layer of melted chocolate; add more chocolate as needed. (4) Put 3 or 4 chocolate-covered balls at a time into the bowl of birthday crumbs. Immediately toss them with the crumbs to coat, before the chocolate shell sets and no longer acts as a glue (if this happens, just coat the ball in another thin layer of melted chocolate). (5) Refrigerate for at least 5 minutes to fully set the chocolate shells before eating or storing. In an airtight container, the truffles will keep for up to 1 week in the fridge.

momofuku milk bar exam no. 5 {birthday layer cake}

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The birthday cake is the most anticipated dessert. I mean, there's a whole ceremony dedicated to it. People light it on fire, they sing a song around it, they feel obligated to put all their hopes and dreams into one wish upon it. Plus it usually includes sprinkles!

This is the mother of all birthday cakes. Everytime I show this recipe to someone, they get so excited, almost giddy with childlike joy. And with good reason because the finished product is gorgeous-- a showstopping funfetti cake made from scratch.

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Now I really had to trust Tosi with this one, some of these ingredients had me a bit... apprehensive. When it comes to cooking and baking, I pride myself on using as natural of ingredients as possible. But Tosi swears that certain products are necessary for that 'boxed cake mix' taste. Hence the vegetable shortening and the clear imitation vanilla extract... they're necessary so I didn't skip them, I just went incognito when I bought them.

Oh, can we just pause for a minute to talk about this...

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My new KitchenAid stand mixer. Ain't she a beaut? My wonderful, gracious, beautiful, perfect mother surprised me by getting it for me. She's the best. My mom's pretty great too. I have to say I'm pretty obsessed with this new addition in my life and if you don't get why, then you just don't know love.

I've even decided to name her... which is where I could use your help. I can't pick a name so I'm asking you to vote for your favorite! It's the same as naming a baby, except this one churns out beautiful cakes, cookies, and bread instead of drool and spit-up.

[polldaddy poll=6978216]

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This birthday cake was made for an especially special birthday girl, Anne Larimer! Welcome to the 25 Club my friend.

I was lucky enough to get a slice of this cake before it got demolished, and ahh it's so good. It really is like a funfetti cake but made even better due to the crunchy texture from the birthday crumbs. These crumbs are becoming my favorite snack food.

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And make sure not to waste the leftovers from this recipe... repurpose them into birthday cake truffles!

birthday layer cake from Momofuku Milk Bar makes 1 (6-inch) layer cake; 5 to 6 inches tall; serves 6 to 8

  • 1 recipe Birthday Cake
  • 1 recipe Birthday Cake Soak
  • 1 recipe Birthday Cake Frosting
  • 1 recipe Birthday Cake Crumb

(1) Put a piece of parchment or a Silpat on the counter. Invert the cake onto it and peel off the parchment or Silpat from the bottom of the cake. Use the cake ring to stamp out 2 circles from the cake. These are your top 2 cake layers. The remaining cake “scrap” will come together to make the bottom layer of the cake - layer 1, the bottom - (2) Clean the cake ring and place it in the center of a sheet pan lined with clean parchment or a Silpat. Use 1 strip of acetate to line the inside of the cake ring. (3) Put the cake scraps in the ring and use the back of your hand to tamp the scraps together into a flat even layer. (4) Dunk a pastry brush in the birthday cake soak and give the layer of cake a good, healthy bath of half of the soak. (5) Use the back of a spoon to spread on-fifth of the frosting in an even layer over the cake. (6) Sprinkle one-third of the birthday crumbs evenly over the top of the frosting. Use the back of your hand to anchor them in place. (7) Use the back of a spoon to spread a second fifth of the frosting as evenly as possible over the crumbs. - layer 2, the middle - (8) With your index finger, gently tuck the second strip of acetate between the cake ring and the top ¼ inch of the first strip of acetate, so that you have a clear ring of acetate 5 to 6 inches tall—high enough to support the height of the finished cake. Set a cake round on top of the frosting, and repeat the process for layer 1 (if 1 of you 2 cake rounds in jankier than the other, use it here in the middle and save the prettier one for the top). - layer 3, the top - (9) Nestle the remaining cake round into the frosting. Cover the top of the cake with the last fifth of the frosting. Give it volume and swirls, or do as we do and opt for a perfectly flat top. Garnish the frosting with the remaining birthday crumbs. (10) Transfer the sheet pan to the freezer and freeze for a minimum of 12 hours to set the cake and filling. The cake will keep in the freezer for up to 2 weeks. (11) At least 3 hours before you are ready to serve the cake, pull the sheet pan out of the freezer and, using your fingers and thumbs, pop the cake out of the cake ring. Gently peel off the acetate and transfer the cake to a platter or cake stand. Let it defrost in the fridge for a minimum of 3 hours (wrapped well in plastic, it can be refrigerated for up to 5 days. (12) Slice the cake into wedges and serve.

Birthday Cake makes 1 quarter sheet pan

  • 4 tablespoons (½ stick, 55g) butter, at room temperatue
  • ⅓ cup (60g) vegetable shortening
  • 1¼ cups (250g) granulated sugar
  • 3 tablespoons (50g) light brown sugar, tightly packed
  • 3 eggs
  • ½ cup (110g) buttermilk
  • ⅓ cup (65g) grapeseed oil
  • 2 teaspoons (8g) clear vanilla extract
  • 2 cups (245g) cake flour
  • 1½ teaspoons (6g) baking powder
  • ¾ teaspoon (3g) kosher salt
  • ¼ cup (50g) rainbow sprinkles
  • Pam or other nonstick cooking spray (optional)
  • 2 tablespoons (25g) rainbow sprinkles

(1) Heat the oven to 350°F. (2) Combine the butter, shortening, and sugars in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and cream together on medium-high for 2 to 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, add the eggs, and mix on medium-high for 2 to 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl once more. (3) On low speed, stream in the buttermilk, oil, and vanilla. Increase the mixer speed to medium-high and paddle for 4 to 6 minutes, until the mixture is practically white, twice the size of your original fluffy butter-and-sugar mixture, and completely homogenous. Don’t rush the process. You’re basically forcing too much liquid into an already fatty mixture that doesn’t want to make room for the liquid. There should be no streaks of fat of liquid. Stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl. (4) On very low speed, add the cake flour, baking powder, salt, and the 50g (¼ cup) rainbow sprinkles. Mix for 45 to 60 seconds, just until your batter comes together. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. (5) Pam-spray a quarter sheet pan and line it with parchment, or just line the pan with a Silpat. Using a spatula, spread the cake batter in an even layer in the pan. Sprinkle the remaining 25g (2 tablespoons) rainbow sprinkles evenly on top of the batter. (6) Bake the cake for 30 to 35 minutes. The cake will rise and puff, doubling in size, but will remain slightly buttery and dense. At 30 minutes, gently poke the edge of the cake with your finger: the cake should bounce back slightly and the center should no longer be jiggly. Leave the cake in the oven for an extra 3 to 5 minutes if it doesn’t pass these tests. (7) Take the cake out of the oven and cool on a wire rack or, in a pinch, in the fridge or freezer (don’t worry, it’s not cheating). The cooled cake can be stored in the fridge, wrapped in plastic wrap, for up to 5 days.

Birthday Cake Soak makes about 60g (¼ cup)

  • ¼ cup (55g) milk
  • 1 teaspoon (4g) clear vanilla extract

(1) Whisk together the milk and vanilla in a small bowl.

Birthday Cake Frosting makes about 430g (2 cups)

  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick, 115g) butter, at room temperature
  • ¼ cup (50g) vegetable shortening
  • 2 ounces (55g) cream cheese
  • 1 tablespoon (25g) glucose
  • 1 tablespoon (18g) corn syrup
  • 1 tablespoon (12g) clear vanilla extract
  • 1¼ cups (200g) confectioners’ sugar
  • ½ teaspoon (2g) kosher salt
  • pinch (0.25g) baking powder
  • pinch (0.25g) citric acid

(1) Combine the butter, shortening, and cream cheese in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and cream together on medium-high for 2 to 3 minutes, until the mixture is smooth and fluffy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. (2) With the mixer on its lowest speed, stream in the glucose, corn syrup, and vanilla. Crank the mixer up to medium-high and beat for 2 to 3 minutes, until the mixture is silky smooth and a glossy white. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. (3) Add the confectioners’ sugar, salt, baking powder, and citric acid and mix on low speed just to incorporate them into the batter. Crank the speed back up to medium-high and beat for 2 to 3 minutes, until you have a brilliant stark white, beautifully smooth frosting. It should look just like it came out of a plastic tub at the grocery store! Use the frosting immediately, or store it in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 1 week.

Birthday Cake Crumb makes for 275g (2¼ cups)

  • ½ cup (100g) granulated sugar
  • 1½ tablespoons (25g) light brown sugar, tightly packed
  • ¾ cup (90g) cake flour
  • ½ teaspoon (2g) baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon (2g) kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons (20g) rainbow sprinkles
  • ¼ cup (40g) grapeseed oil
  • 1 tablespoon (12g) clear vanilla extract

(1) Heat the oven to 300°F. (2) Combine the sugars, flour, baking powder, salt, and sprinkles in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and mix on low speed until well combined. (3) Add the oil and vanilla and paddle again to distribute. The wet ingredients will act as glue to help the dry ingredients form small clusters; continue paddling until that happens. (4) Spread the cluster on a parchment- or Silpat-lined sheet pan. Bake for 20 minutes, breaking them up occasionally. The crumbs should still be slightly moist to the touch; they will dry and harden as they cool. (5) Let the crumbs cool completely before using in a recipe or scarfing by the handful. Stored in an airtight container, the crumbs will keep fresh for 1 week at room temperature or 1 month in the fridge or freezer.