I can’t believe it; I’m almost finished making all the Momofuku Milk Bar cookies from the cookbook. It dawned on me as I was making these to thumb through the index to see how many cookie recipes I had left to go, and with the exception of two (oat cookie and peanut butter cookie, here I come), I’ve made them all. This one in particular I’ve been waiting to try, but I was stumped: the book clearly indicated I needed to use top-shelf chocolate in order to make this cookie, and although I do have access to that where I live, I wondered if I should. You see, I know some of you enough by now to know that you don’t always have time to make an extra trip to the store for specialty chocolate. Often, it’s not at your local market, and it may be something you need to order. I know it flusters me when I see an ingredient list calling for things I can’t just run to the store and get.
After going back and forth about it, I set out to make this cookie, but not with the fancy chocolate. I have faith in Momofuku. I have so much faith, in fact, that I knew this cookie would be incredibly delicious with a perfectly mid-grade chocolate, both for the melted chocolate and cocoa powder components. For an added chocolate kick, I decided to add mini-chocolate chips; the third “chocolate” in the title, also not the fancy sort. Why go with readily available, non-expensive chocolate? Because you need to make these, and you don’t need to be put off by big-deal chocolate.
I made my first Momofuku cookie back in January of this year; in fact, the cornflake-chocolate chip-marshmallow cookies were the first recipe I made out of the book. I was terrified. Terrified because after a little cover-to-cover reading action, I knew this was going to be different from any book i had cooked from. Terrified because I knew others had had difficulty with these recipes. Terrified because what, really, was I thinking trying to bake at this level?
But not terrified enough to say “no way, I’m not going to try.” And so it began, and those little cornflake cookies were my almost-undoing. If you’ve seen the post, you know that the first batch spread out and looked like a flat, lumpy burnt-sugar planet with a hostile atmosphere. It made me angry. I was frustrated. I worked so hard at making the crunch, and the cookies, and I had put tons of energy and time into their creation. They would not beat me now.
And so they didn’t. After a few alterations to time and temperature, some standing obsessively in the kitchen watching through my oven window for the slightest sign of crisping or over-spreading, wearing an oven mitt at all times just in case I had to yank them out – they worked. And boy, did they ever work. I was thrilled, and anxious to see what else this book could throw at me.
I made these cookies with an ease not found in the making of that first Momofuku cookie. Indeed, after all this time, I could do any of the cookies in my sleep. I find them relaxing; it’s a great setup if you get used to them. All you have to do is follow the stages and it’s like someone else did the work for you. I make the crumb/crunch/base recipes ahead of time, then store them. The next day, I make the cookies, typically in the morning, and then pop the pan of cookie balls in the fridge and go about my day. By the time i get around to turning on the oven and removing them from their chilly hideaway – whether it’s later that afternoon or the next day – to bake them, it’s like I never made them at all.
So what have I learned about Momofuku so far? Mostly, that Christina Tosi is my rock goddess. She’s amazing and I hope someday she calls me up and says “Hey: you there, with the food blog…come bake with me for a day. Try not to get so excited you pass out and fall into a giant stand mixer.” But I’ve learned other things, too.
- The creaming process for all these cookies is a force to be reckoned with. There’s no messing with it, and it makes your cookies the dreamboats they are. A solid technique to have in your repertoire, for sure. I’ve even applied it to non-Milk Bar recipes, with excellent results.
- To believe in the power of recipes which involve other recipes and how it’s not just the busy work some people think it is. The crumbs, crunches, and other base recipes which go into these cookies? They make the final product what it is. The depth of flavor they provide is not something which can be shortcut. I’ve also learned to experiment by adding them to innocent, unsuspecting recipes like blueberry muffins to give them an added punch.
- Adding things like potato chips, pretzels, dried blueberries, cereal, powdered milk, freeze-dried corn, and copious amounts of sprinkles to cookies is never a bad idea.
- Finally, that learning to bake isn’t always easy, and it’s not always hard, either. But it should always be an adventure, if you’re doing it right. Sometimes that means failure. Certainly for me, it does. Failure should end up encouraging you to give it another go.
Awhile ago, someone mentioned something about how they wish they could bake like me because “everything always comes out so good.” No, it doesn’t. I don’t always post my failures, but they happen, and they happen frequently. Just this weekend I made a tart dough and literally forgot an entire stick of butter. It was, needless to say, trashed. But I started over, remembering all of my ingredients, and it turned out wonderfully. My point? Don’t get frustrated. Well, nevermind, get frustrated. Just don’t let it stop you. I think this book taught me that.
This cookie, happily, was not on the failure list. Did I go against the book and use more affordable chocolate? Yes. Do I think these are, hands-down, the best super-chocolate cookie in the land? Yes. Can you make these with a simple trip to the grocery store? Yes. Yay for readily available chocolate.
That being said, I will be making these using the fancy chocolate, and probably sometime soon. I want to compare notes between the two. Because my mind was blown with this cookie’s intense chocolate flavor, and it’s dark, rich chewiness, and I can only imagine what will happen when using the good stuff. I promise I’ll let you know as soon as I do. For now, I give you this cookie to enjoy.
Adapted from my nominee for Most Awesomely Fun Cookbook 2012, the Momofuku Milk Bar Cookbook by Christina Tosi.
Chocolate Chocolate (Chocolate) Cookies
for the crumb:
- 2/3 cup flour
- 1 teaspoon cornstarch
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 2/3 cup cocoa powder (I used Ghirardelli)
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
for the cookies:
- 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
- 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup glucose (or you can substitute 2 tablespoons corn syrup for the glucose)
- 1 egg
- 1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
- 2 ounces 55% chocolate (no more than 62%), melted (again, I used Ghirardelli for this)
- 1 1/4 cups flour
- 3/4 cup cocoa powder (Ghirardelli)
- 3/4 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 3/4 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1 1/2 cups chocolate crumb (a little more than a 1/2 recipe)
- 3/4 cup mini chocolate chips, semi-sweet variety (Nestle)
and away we go. make the crumb:
Preheat the oven to 300˚F and line a sheet pan with parchment paper.
Combine the flour, sugar, cornstarch, cocoa powder, and salt in a large bowl and whisk thoroughly (thoroughly i say!) until evenly mixed.
Add the butter and, using a large spoon, flip the mixture around using an up-and-over folding motion until mixture begins to come together in small crumbs. Use your fingers to complete the integration of butter into dry ingredients, lifting and stirring, and breaking up big crumbs as you mix. You will see and feel when the mixture is combined.
Spread the clusters onto your prepared baking sheet and bake for 18-20 minutes, using a spatula to break them up 2 times or so during the cooking process. When finished, the crumbs should be slightly moist to the touch: they will dry and harden as they cool.
Let the crumbs cool completely before using in the cookies. If you’re just using them to snack on, you just go right ahead and eat them warm, but save enough for the cookie recipe. Store in an airtight container, and you’ll have fresh crumbs for 1 week (at room temperature) or 1 month (in the fridge or freezer.)
snack time over. time to make the cookies:
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 2-3 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, add the egg, vanilla, and melted chocolate, and beat for 7-8 minutes. Not kidding. As I’ve said before, this is the best part for two reasons. One, you get 7-8 minutes to get your dry ingredients together, which is awesome. Two, all you have to do is sit back, relax, and wait for chocolate butterfluff to happen. Not a bad deal.
Reduce mixer speed to low and add the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Mix just until the dough comes together, about 30-45 seconds. Don’t overdo this; you want it to just be combined. Scrape down the sides of the bowl again with a spatula and mix for a few more seconds on low speed until everything is mixed.
Still on low speed, add the chocolate crumbs and mix just until incorporated, about 30 seconds.
Using a 2 3/4 ounce ice cream scoop or a normal-sized serving spoon (like those of us who know they need proper ice cream scoops but can’t figure out how to remember to get them at the store), portion out the dough, shaping it in to balls. Set them close together on a wax paper or parchment-lined baking sheet* which will fit comfortably in your refrigerator. Wrap the sheet tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or up to 1 week. I typically leave mine for maybe 4 or so hours, but I’ve done them as early as 2 hours and as long as overnight, both with excellent results.
Don’t even think about baking these cookies right away unless you want a blobby chocolate mess.
When you are ready to bake them, or rather, when they are ready for you, preheat your oven to 350˚F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Arrange the chilled dough balls a minimum of 4 inches apart on your prepared baking sheets. Bake for 12-13 minutes until just done. Chocolate cookies, especially dark ones, are impossible to tell when done; true story. You have to rely on some instinct here, and some keen observation tactics. pull your cookies out so you can clearly see them at around the 11 minute mark. if they look wet in the center, give them another minute or so. if they look like they’re maybe wet, but not really, they’re probably done. Use your best judgement, but I would do a test batch first to see how fast your oven cooks. These are best when just done, even slightly underdone, and chewy.
Cool the cookies for at least 10 minutes or so on their sheets, then transfer them to wire racks if they need additional cooling. These will keep at room temperature for 1 week or in the freezer for 1 month.
*here’s the thing: I’m superstitious by now about how I chill my balls. I use a 1/4 sheet pan, tear off a wax paper sheet double the size I need which opens like a book from the pan, when the pan is vertical. I place my cookie balls on the half which lies on the sheet pan, then cover the balls with the other side. Then I wrap the entire thing, all the way around, with plastic wrap. it works like a dream, and I’m sure other things would work just as well, but I imagine it’s like how some basketball players wear the same socks over and over if they make the championships or whatever. I felt you should know that.