I. Have. No. Words.
This post has been oddly difficult for me to write. Usually, I just make something, get excited, write about it, and…done. And although I’m not winning any “excellence in food writing” awards (that I know of), I think it usually turns out okay? At the very least, I am able to put in to words roughly how I feel about what recipe I have just completed. These corn cookies have thrown me for a loop. Really thrown me. Because It’s hard to accept that something this cornneriffic exists on the earth. In the universe. In any other universe.
I don’t know how to feel. Should I be elated because I finally, FINALLY found a corn recipe, for a cookie, of all things, that combines every corn recipe I’ve ever loved into several portable circles? Should I feel confused because I don’t know how something this relatively easy could result in such magnificence? Should I be distraught because I haven’t had these cookies until just now?
I think the best way to describe these is with a story. I made these cookies a week or more ago, and I was pretty excited to finally be making them. The only “special” ingredient you may have to travel any distance to find is the freeze-dried corn, but for me it wasn’t difficult – they carry it at Whole Foods and I like going there anyway, so win-win. My error? Just getting one bag. Sure, that’s enough for the recipe, and also for the resulting recipe you’ll see in The Corn Chronicles, Part Two: Sweet Corn Cereal Milk Ice Cream Pie (coming soon). But that’s it.
So no big deal, right? I had what I needed. I made the cookies. They were easy. Nothing to them and they baked up like a dream (and by now you know the efforts I have taken with some of the Momofuku recipes to make sure they bake up nicely) with virtually no effort. I removed them from the oven. I let them cool. I tasted them.
…aaaaaand this is where I should stop talking. Because I don’t know how to effectively describe their flavor or their texture. I feel ill-equipped to capture their toasted, sweet-corn depth in words. I want to find a way to convey the texture, which lives somewhere between the soft crunch of toasted pound cake and the edge of a really moist-on-the-inside cornbread muffin. Has your grandmother ever made you her sweet corn casserole? Did you wish there was some way on earth to have it available to you anytime? Well. You have found your cookie, then.
Part of the writing problem could be the horrid case of anxiety I’m feeling over not having any more of these in the house (ahem, I don’t know where they could have gone to…). I have to get more freeze-dried corn. At least 5 bags.
Please just try these, I’m begging you. If you have any love for corn, it’s almost your duty and obligation as at least a part-time food lover (you’re reading this, so I have to assume) to make them. They you tell me what words you would use to describe them. OH! and save some, I beg you: you’ll need 3-4 corn cookies to make the crust for the Sweet Corn Cereal Milk Ice Cream Pie, recipe forthcoming. If you think this one was difficult to write about….it’s an ice cream pie made of cereal milk.
Don’t we all know where this is adapted from by now? Yes. But I’ll say it anyway. Thank you to the lovely and amazing Christina Tosi for writing The Momofuku Milk Bar Cookbook, from which this recipe hails.
- 16 tablespoons (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
- 1 large egg
- 1 1/3 cups flour
- 1/4 cup corn flour or fine ground cornmeal (I used the latter, with beautiful results)
- 2/3 cup freeze-dried corn powder (see note at the bottom)
- 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
Combine the butter and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and cream together on medium-high for 2-3 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, add the egg, and beat for 7-8 minutes. I suppose I sound like a broken record at this point, but do NOT skip these steps or try to go faster. Use the time to prep your other ingredients if you get antsy.
Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the flour, cornmeal, corn powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Mix just until the dough comes together, no longer than 1 minute. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
Using a 2 3/4-ounce ice cream scoop or a 1/3 cup measure (or, if you’ve done any of the other ones before, you can do what I do and use a serving spoon and eye it up), portion out the dough onto a parchment-lined sheet pan which will fit comfortably in your refrigerator. Wrap the sheet pan tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, or up to 1 week. Unlike some of the other Momofuku cookies I’ve done, I didn’t pat these guys down and I like the way they came out. Leave them in balls.
When your cookies are cold and firm, preheat your oven to 350˚F.
Arrange the chilled dough a minimum of 4 inches apart on a parchment-lined sheet pan. Bake for 12-14 minutes, checking on them at the 10-minute mark and watching them carefully from that point on (if you want the perfect cookie, you’ll do it with your first batch. Once you’ve determined how long exactly to leave them in, the rest of the batches are a breeze). The cookies will puff, crackle, and spread. When they are done, they should be just starting to get light brown around the edges and the middle should still be bright yellow, not browned.
Cool the cookies completely (which doesn’t take long) on the sheet pan before transferring to a plate or airtight container for storage. At room temperature, the cookies will keep for 5 days. In the freezer, 1 month. But you’ll never have to worry about that because they’ll never last that long.
Makes about 15-18 cookies, depending on how exactly you size them.
A note about freeze-dried corn:
You can purchase freeze-dried corn at Whole Foods or Amazon.com. At Whole Foods, it’s found near the produce section where they keep the other freeze-dried snacks, like fruit, etc. One bag will get you through this recipe and will leave you enough to complete the Sweet Corn Cereal Milk Ice Cream Pie, if you’re into that. But you will love these cookies, so I would suggest getting more than one bag. Just in case.