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.

momofuku milk bar exam no. 3 {apple pie layer cake}

applepielayercake So last year, I was at pub trivia night in Brooklyn and one of the questions was: Name all four members of the band, The Black Eyed Peas.

Ok... well Fergie, obviously. Um, Will.i.am. Alright, we got this. Uh, gosh what's his name... the one with the, you know, I...... and that's as far as we got. Because NOBODY could remember what the other two even looked like. Answer: Fergie, Will.i.am... Taboo and apl.de.ap. Ohhhhhh... yah, I totally didn't know that.

What I do know is that it makes for a nice segue into this apple-de-app dessert, Apple Pie Layer Cake aka Momofuku Milk Bar Exam no.3! no.1 was cookies, no.2 pie, and now CAKE. But Momofuku Milk Bar cakes are unlike any other cake I've ever seen or made. Christina Tosi is like the Betty Crocker of the future, so of course her cakes are assembled in a cake ring, wrapped in acetate sheets, and presented with their sides unfrosted.

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Although I usually like a perfectly frosted cake, I'm marveled by this presentation. It reminds me of a trifle in which you see each layer of the individual components of the dessert. But let me tell you, I had a bit of a doozy tracking down the equipment.

  • 6-inch cake ring: Ok, I just bought this one off Amazon so not that hard.
  • acetate sheets: ??? You'd think in a city like New York, I'd have no problem finding them but when I went to Michael's they told me to try Staples. I went to Staples and they said 'maybe Michael's?' Needless to say, I Amazon-ed these last minute as well and was biting my nails with worry, afraid that they wouldn't arrive in time for me to make this cake for my friend Emily's birthday.

But they did and I sighed in relief and I made this cake and my friends all ate it. All's well that ends... with cake. So word of advice, if you're planning on making any Momofuku Milk Bar cake, make sure you locate all the necessary parts at least a week before you need them. Now, I'm not gonna lie. There's a lot of parts to this cake. Just make sure you have everything prepared and stay really organized (the finished cake has to freeze for 12 hours before being served, so it's not a last minute dessert).

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All in all, it took me about 4.5 hours of work... not that bad. Just turn on a nice album and go to cake-town. It goes without saying that this cake is totally worth it. Each component is delicious on its own (the pie crumbs are my new fav snack) but together they are just apl.de.ap heaven.

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{time to eat leftovers... and to get a manicure}

 

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

  • 1 recipe Barely Brown Butter Cake
  • 1 recipe Apple Cider Soak
  • 1 recipe Liquid Cheesecake
  • ½ recipe Pie Crumb
  • 1 recipe Apple Pie Filling
  • ½ recipe Pie Crumb Frosting

special equipment:

  • 1 (6-inch) cake ring
  • 2 strips acetate, each 3 inches wide and 20 inches long

(1)  Put a piece of parchment paper 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 tamp the scraps together into a flat even layer. (4)  Dunk the pastry brush in the apple cider 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 half of the liquid cheesecake in an even layer over the cake. (6)  Sprinkle one-third of the pie crumbs evenly over the liquid cheesecake. Use the back of your hand to anchor them in place. (7)  Use the back of a spoon to spread one-half of the apple pie filling as evenly as possible over the crumbs [drain as much of the liquid as possible]. - 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 filling 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 apple pie filling. Cover the top of the cake with all of the pie crumb frosting. Give it volume and swirls, or do as we do and opt for a perfectly flat top. Garnish the frosting with the remaining pie 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.

Barely Brown Butter Cake makes 1 quarter sheet pan

  • 4 tablespoons (½ stick, 55g) butter
  • 2 tablespoons (40g) brown butter
  • 1 ¼ cups (250g) granulated sugar
  • ¼ cup (60g) light brown sugar, tightly packed
  • 3 eggs
  • ½ cup (110g) buttermilk
  • ⅓ cup (65g) grapeseed oil [used canola]
  • ½ teaspoon (2g) vanilla extract
  • 1½ cups (180g) cake flour
  • 1 teaspoon (4g) baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon (4g) kosher salt

Brown Butter To make the brown butter, place 2 tablespoons of butter in a microwave-safe bowl and top with a microwave-safe plate.  Microwave for 3 to 5 minutes.  The butter will pop while browning.  Check the butter, and if not browned enough, microwave again in 1 minute increments.  While the brown butter is cooling, stir periodically to incorporate the caramelized bits of butter.  Cool completely.

(1)   Heat the oven to 350° F. (2)   Combine the butters 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 of the bowl once more. (3)   Stream in the buttermilk, oil, and vanilla while the paddle swirls on low speed. Increase the speed to medium-high and paddle 5 to 6 minutes, until the mixture is practically white, twice the size of your original fluffy butter-and-sugar mixture, and completely homogenous. You’re basically forcing too much liquid into an already fatty mixture that doesn’t want to make room for it, so if it doesn’t look right after 6 minutes, keep mixing. 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 an any remnants of dry ingredients have been incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Mix on low speed for another 45 seconds to ensure that any lumps of cake flour are incorporated. (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. Bake 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. (6)   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.

Apple Cider Soak makes about 60g (¼ cup)

  • ¼ cup (55g) apple cider
  • 1 teaspoon (5g) light brown sugar, tightly packed
  • pinch (0.25g) ground cinnamon

(1)   Whisk together the cider, brown sugar, and cinnamon in a small bowl until the sugar is completely dissolved.

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 [the idea of this scared me, so I used aluminum foil]. 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.

Apple Pie Filling makes about 400g (1¼ cups)

  • 1 lemon
  • 2 medium (300g) Granny Smith apples
  • 1 tablespoon (14g) butter
  • ⅔ cup (150g) light brown sugar, tightly packed
  • ½ teaspoon (1g) ground cinnamon
  • ¼ teaspoon (1g) kosher salt

(1)   Fill a medium bowl halfway with cold tap water. Juice the lemon into it. Fish out and discard any seeds. You will use this lemon water to keep your apple pieces looking fresh and pert. (2)   Peel the apples, then halve and quarter them. Put each apple quarter on its side and cut a small slice down the length of the apple to remove the seeds and core. Cut each apple quarter lengthwise into thirds and then crosswise into fourths, leaving you with 12 small pieces from every apple quarter. Transfer these pieces to the lemon water as you go. (3)   When you’re ready to cook, drain the apples (discard the lemon water) and combine them in a medium pot with the butter, brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt. Slowly bring a boil over medium heat, using a spoon to gently stir the mixture as it heats up and the apples begin to release liquid. Reduce the heat and simmer the apples gently for 3 to 5 minutes. Be careful not to cook the apples so much that they turn into applesauce. [I had a lot of liquid left, so I fished out the apples and reduced the remaining liquid by half for about 5 to 6 minutes. It created a more caramel-y apple filling.] (4)   Transfer to a container and put in the fridge to cool down. Once completely cooled, the filling can be stored in the fridge in an airtight container for up to 1 week; do not freeze.

Pie Crumb Frosting makes about 220g (¾ cup), or enough for 2 apples pie layer cakes

  • ½ recipe Pie Crumb
  • ½ cup (110g) milk
  • ½ teaspoon (2g) kosher salt
  • 3 tablespoons (40g) butter, at room temperature
  • ¼ cup (40g) confectioners’ sugar

(1)   Combine the pie crumbs, milk, and salt in a blender, turn the speed 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 and confectioners’ sugar 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 pale yellow. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula. (3)   On low speed, paddle in the contents of the blender, After 1 minute, crank the speed up to medium-high and let her rip for another 2 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. If the mixture is not a uniform, very pale, barely tan color, give the bowl another scrape-down and 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.

Pie Crumb makes about 350g (2¾ cups)

  • 1½ cups (240g) flour
  • 2 tablespoons (18g) sugar
  • ¾ teaspoon (3g) kosher salt
  • 8 tablespoons (1 stick, 115g) butter, melted
  • 1 ½ tablespoons (20g) water

(1)   Heat the oven to 350° F. (2)   Combine the flour, sugar, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and paddle on low speed until well mixed. (3)   Add the butter and water 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 25 minutes, breaking them up occasionally. The crumbs should be golden brown and still 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, the crumbs will keep fresh for 1 week at room temperature or 1 month in the fridge or freezer.

 

momofuku milk bar exam no. 2 {grasshopper pie}

grasshopperpie1 I always say I'm not a chocolate person but the fact is... of course I am. Who am I kidding. Chocolate is great. Chocolate AND Mint is fantastic. So I'm not sure why I was hesitant to make this Grasshopper Pie but I was. It's just not something I usually jump to make when I'm in a baking mood or crave at night during my ladytimes. But that's the beauty of this wonderful endeavor I've decided to take on. I get to learn on a constant basis that I have no idea what's good for me.

Make this pie NOW. Especially since today is Galentine's Day. Celebrate ladytimes!

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Anytime you start with a graham cracker crust you can't go wrong. Add a mint cheesecake and brownie layer and... I'm just preaching to the choir here, right?

Despite the fact that this pie requires a few separate components, it was actually pretty easy to put together. And as I've found with most of Christina Tosi's recipes, really fun! Serve cold, frozen is even better.

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grasshopper pie from Momofuku Milk Bar makes 1 (10-inch) pie; serves 8 to 10
  • 1 recipe Brownie Pie, prepared through step 8
  • 1 recipe Mint Cheesecake Filling (recipe follows)
  • 2 tablespoons (20g) mini chocolate chips
  • ½ cup (25g) mini marshmallows
  • 1 recipe Mint Glaze (recipe follows), warm
(1) Heat the oven to 350°F. (2) Grab a sheet pan and put your pie tin of graham crust on it. Pour the mint cheesecake filling into the shell. Pour the brownie batter on top of it. Use the tip of a knife to swirl the batter and mint filling, teasing up streaks of the mint filling so they show through the brownie batter [I wanted to keep the layers separate so I didn't do this]. (3) Sprinkle the mini chocolate chips into a small ring in the center of the pie, leaving the bull’s-eye center empty [I literally made a bull's eye in the center of the pie, using a ½ measuring cup]. Sprinkle the mini marshmallows into a ring around the ring of chocolate chips. (4) Bake the pie for 25 minutes. It should puff slightly on the edges but still be jiggly in the center. The mini chocolate chips will look as if they are beginning to melt, and the mini marshmallows should be evenly tanned. Leave the pie in the oven for an additional 3 to 4 minutes if this is not the case. (5) Cool the pie completely before finishing it. (You can speed up the cooling process by carefully transferring the pie to the fridge or freezer directly out of the oven if you’re in a hurry.) (6) Now the pie needs to be Jackson-Pollocked with mint glaze. Make sure your glaze is still warm to the touch. Dunk the tines of a fork [I found a small spoon to work better] into the warm glaze, then dangle the fork about 1 inch above the bull’s-eye center of the pie. (7) Transfer the pie to the fridge [freezer is better] so the mint glaze firms up before serving—which will happen as soon as it’s cold, about 15 minutes. Wrapped in plastic, the pie will keep fresh in the fridge for up to 1 week or in the freezer for up to 2 weeks.
 
Brownie Pie makes 1 (10-inch) pie; serves 8 to 10
  • ¾ recipe (255g, 1½ cups) Graham Crust [I love graham crust, so I just used 1 full recipe. Why not?]
  • 4½ ounces (125g) 72% chocolate
  • 6 tablespoons (85g) butter
  • 2 eggs
  • ¾ cup (150g) sugar
  • ¼ cup (40g) flour
  • 3 tablespoons (25g) cocoa powder, preferably Valrhona
  • ½ teaspoon (2g) kosher salt
  • ½ cup (110g) heavy cream 
(1) Heat the oven to 350°F. (2) Dump 210g (1¼ cups) graham crust into a 10-inch pie tine and set the remaining 45g (¼ cup) to the side. With your fingers and the palms of your hands, press the crust firmly into the pie tin, covering the bottom and sides of the pan completely. Wrapped in plastic, the crust can be refrigerated or frozen for up to 2 weeks. (3) Combine the chocolate and butter in a microwave-safe bowl and gently melt them together on low for 30 to 50 seconds. Use a heatproof spatula to stir them together, working until the mixture is glossy and smooth. (4) Combine the eggs and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the whisk attachment and whip together on high for 3 to 4 minutes, until the mixture is fluffy and pale yellow and has reached the ribbon state. (Detach your whisk, dunk it into the whipped eggs, and wave it back and forth like a pendulum: the mixture should form a thickened silky ribbon that falls and then disappears into the batter.) If the mixture does not form ribbons, continue whipping on high as needed. (5) Replace the whisk with the paddle attachment. Dump the chocolate mixture into the eggs and briefly mix together on low, then increase the speed to medium and paddle the mixture for 1 minute, or until it is brown and completely homogenous If there are any dark streaks of chocolate, paddle for a few seconds longer, or as needed. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. (6) Add the flour, cocoa powder, and salt and paddle on low speed for 45 to 60 seconds. There should be no clumps of dry ingredients. If there are any lumps, mix for an additional 30 seconds. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. (7) Stream in the heavy cream on low speed, mixing for 30 to 45 seconds, just until the batter has loosened up a little and the white streaks of cream are fully mixed in. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. (8) Detach the paddle and remove the bowl from the mixer. Gently fold in the 45g (¼ cup) graham crust with a spatula. (These crumbs will add little bursts of flavor and texture into the pie filling.) (9) Grab a sheet pan and put your pit tine of graham crust on it. With a spatula, scrape the brownie batter into the graham shell. Bake for 25 minutes. The pie should puff slightly on the sides and develop a sugary crust on top. If the brownie pie is still liquid in the center and has not formed a crust, bake it for an additional 5 minutes or so. (10) Cool the pie on a rack. (You can speed up the cooling process by carefully transferring the pie to the fridge or freezer directly out of the oven if you’re in a hurry.) Wrapped in plastic, the pie will keep fresh in the fridge for up to 1 week or in the freezer for up to 2 weeks.  
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.
  Mint Cheesecake Filling makes enough for 1 grasshopper pie 
  • 2 ounces (60g) white chocolate
  • 2 tablespoons (20g) grapeseed oil [used canola]
  • 2 ½ ounces (75g) cream cheese
  • 2 tablespoons (20g) confectioners’ sugar
  • ½ teaspoon (2g) peppermint extract
  • ¼ teaspoon (1g) kosher salt
  • 2 drops green food coloring [only 1 drop]
(1) Combine the white chocolate and oil in a microwave-safe dish and gently melt the mixture on low for 30 to 50 seconds. Use a heatproof spatula to stir the chocolate and oil together, working until the mixture is glossy and smooth. (2) Combine the cream cheese and confectioners’ sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and stir together on medium-low speed for 2 to 3 minutes to blend. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. (3) On low speed, slowly stream in the white chocolate mixture. Mix for 1 to 2 minutes, until it is fully incorporated into the cream cheese. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. (4) Add the peppermint extract, salt, and food coloring and paddle the mixture for 1 to 2 minutes, or just until it is smooth and leprechaun green [I kept mine more minty green]. (You may need to scrape the bowl down once midmixing.) No point in making ahead—you don’t have any use for it otherwise and it will make it trickier to swirl in later.   
Mint Glaze makes enough for 1 grasshopper pie
  • 1 ounce (30g) white chocolate
  • 2 teaspoons (6g) grapeseed oil [used canola]
  • scant ⅛ teaspoon (0.5g) peppermint extract
  • 1 drop green food coloring
(1) Combine the white chocolate and oil in a microwave-safe dish and melt the chocolate on low for 20 to 30 seconds. Use a heatproof spatula to stir the oil and chocolate together, working until the mixture is glossy and smooth. (2) Stir in the peppermint extract and food coloring.

momofuku milk bar exam no. 1 {blueberry & cream cookies}

blueberrycreamcookies1 This cookie was actually the first item I ever tried at Momofuku Milk Bar (thus starting this obsession). For a place known for its eccentric Crack Pie® and Bagel Bombs, these blueberry & cream cookies look deceptively simple. Ohhh but think again! Imagine a chewy, buttery cookie dotted with blueberries and white chocolate and multiply those flavors by 1000! You're gonna love this cookie.

The thing I really appreciate about the Momofuku Milk Bar cookbook and Christina Tosi is that she's very clear with her directions as well as the specificity of her ingredients. I'm a recipe/cookbook connoisseur and I hate when chefs leave out the specifics-- Tosi keeps no secrets. She's very direct in the intro pages about EXACTLY what brands she uses for her butter, flour, sugar, chocolate, fruits, etc.  which is a tremendous help to an obsessive nit-picker like myself. I'm going to try my darnest to listen to her suggestions and adhere as closely as possible to each recipe. My new motto is: What Tosi Wants, Tosi Gets. She would probably be mortified and slightly disturbed by my cult-ish devotion but I've tasted her Kool-Aid (cookies) and I'm just not going back!

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What makes these cookies stand out are a handful of key changes. Since this was my first Momofuku Milk Bar endeavor for y'all, I was a bit nervous. Milk crumbs? Glucose? I've never baked with these ingredients before. But it all makes sense. The milk crumbs (a combination of mostly butter, milk powder, and white chocolate) give the cookies an additional oomph in the creamy, milky department. And the addition of glucose (which I previously only associated with my dreaded year of organic chemistry) is now my new best friend and the secret to what keeps these cookies nice and chewy.

Most of my ingredients I procured at either Trader Joe's, Fairway, or Whole Foods, but the glucose I actually purchased at Michael's. The directions say that corn syrup can be substituted for the glucose but speaking from experience now, I can say that glucose is WAY stickier and less sweet than corn syrup (and thus probably produces a better chewier texture).

{milk crumbs}

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As hard as it is, resist from eating all the cookie dough before baking. Or eat half then bake half. Compromise.

{ready to eat. or scoop.}

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blueberry & cream cookies from Momofuku Milk Bar makes 12 to 17 cookies

  • 16 tablespoons (2 sticks, 225g) butter, at room temperature [preferably Plugra, I used Whole Foods brand-- sorry Tosi!]
  • ¾ cup (150g) granulated sugar
  • ⅔ cup (150g) light brown sugar, tightly packed
  • ¼ cup (100g) glucose [can substitute: 2 tablespoons (35g) light corn syrup]
  • 2 [large] eggs
  • 2 cups (320g) flour [preferably King Arthur bread flour]
  • ½ teaspoon (2g) baking powder
  • ¼ teaspoon (1g) baking soda
  • 1 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
  • Milk Crumb, recipe below
  • ¾ cup (130g) dried blueberries [can be bought at Whole Foods or Trader Joe's]

(1) Combine the butter, sugars, and glucose in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and cream on medium-high for 2 to 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, add the eggs, 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, add the milk crumbs and mix until they’re incorporated, no more than 30 seconds. Chase the milk crumbs with the dried blueberries, mixing them in for 30 seconds. (4) Using a 2 ¾-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 [I did overnight], 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 15-16 minutes, don't overbake!]. 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 to an airtight container for storage. At room temp, the cookies will keep fresh for 5 days; in the freezer, they will keep for 1 month.  

Milk Crumb

  • ¼ cup (20g) milk powder [non-fat dry milk]
  • 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.

my Momofuku Milk Bar Exam

milkbarexam1 So, I've been lying awake at night thinking about this blog... what direction to take it, how to keep my DOZENS of (or one dozen) followers interested, what fulfillment this blog is still giving me... I'm sure you lie awake wondering the same thing. The truth is, I've felt a little uninspired. There are so many amazing, beautiful, creative blogs out there that I kinda felt like, what's the point? Well, I realized the point is... I don't know what the point is. All I know is that I enjoy posting about things I make and see and do and hopefully other people enjoy this little corner I occupy in the blogosphere.

Which is why I've decided to take inspiration into my own hands and create a project for myself. Titled My Momofuku Milk Bar Exam, it will be a series of 26 recipes that I've chosen to make and share from the Momofuku Milk Bar cookbook!

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My brother Ben got me this incredible cookbook for Christmas and it has only heightened my obsession with Christina Tosi. I had first set lofty goals to make the ENTIRE cookbook à la Julie & Julia... but decided to condense the 128 recipes to a more manageable 26 (the age I will be when this project is hopefully done). So far I don't have half the equipment that is required, i.e. stand mixer, ice cream machine, acetate sheets, cake ring... but I have a whisk! And a dedication to create something that will hopefully bring inspiration to you as well.

Wish me luck! Momofuku Milk Bar Exam no. 1 coming soon... stay tuned.

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also, please wish a Happy Birthday to my friend Maxine!

some people say you hit a quarter-life crisis at 25, but I'm obviously doing fine.