the chocolate chronicles, part two: the momofuku chocolate chocolate (chocolate) cookies.

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.

I’ve learned:

  • 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)
If you want to do the top-shelf version, as I will do someday soon, use Valrhona chocolate for all the above listed chocolate. I added the chocolate chips to the recipe: the original one has no chocolate chips of any sort.

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.

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  • Reply Tina May 31, 2012 at 6:56 am

    You are a genius 🙂 who knew so much potential a chocolate cookie could have? your photos are amazing, your description is mouth-watering, and thanks so much on taking me on your cookie journey. yep, 2 more to go, only 2 more :)!! Christina Tosi should really see this blog!!

    • Reply shannon June 2, 2012 at 6:03 am

      tina, you’re so sweet! sadly, i’m no genius, but i have been really lucky with these cookies and have had a great time making them for you all (and, ahem, for myself). these cookies are so, so good; one of my personal favorites. i wish i had made them first! i had to look through the book to see what cookies i’ve missed when i wrote this, and i had forgotten all about both the oat and the peanut butter, so i’m thrilled i have a few more to go; i was going to miss my momofuku cookie projects.
      if christina tosi saw this blog, i may pass out. if she actually liked it, i may pass out again. it’s like that thing where you so admire some people that you’d love to meet them, but at the same time, you know you’d be rendered mute if you did. i’d love it if she saw it, but i’d be SO. INCREDIBLY. NERVOUS. 🙂

  • Reply Emma May 31, 2012 at 6:57 am

    Think of all the cash you’ve spent on baking cookies from this cookbook alone! It makes me hope I get a job soon so I can start cranking again with the butter 😀

    I never buy expensive cocoa powder, and I’m normally such a chocolate snob (according to others, not myself). Take that, top-shelf cocoa people!

    • Reply shannon June 2, 2012 at 5:58 am

      emma! don’t make me think about things like that! 🙂 everytime i do get a little frisky about the money i spend cooking and baking, i remind myself that someday maybe i’ll be a famous cookbook author and it’ll all be worth it. it’s like an investment, you see. 🙂

      you know, i thought of you when i wrote this post, because i didn’t know which way you would go on it. you know your chocolate (and i don’t think you’re a snob about it, i just think you’re discerning). you could have totally called me out for using the mid-grade. i was worried. i feel so good now knowing you use the normal stuff! it makes me happy. i feel even more confident in my chocolate choice, so thank you for that.

  • Reply movita beaucoup May 31, 2012 at 7:08 am

    Aaaaaaaand now I need this cookbook too.

    Also, last week, I was making cupcakes for a birthday. The first batch wasn’t up to snuff, so I threw them into the freezer (they are a great means of portaging leftover buttercream into 2.0’s belly). The next morning, I switched up the recipe and got going on the new batch of cupcakes. I’ve used the recipe before. It’s basically no-fail. And yet, the batter was a… dough. Thick, gloppy dough. I stood in front of the mixer. I couldn’t figure it out. I was completely stymied. The recipe is no-fail! Had I lost my edge? How could I be messing up a second batch of cupcakes? HOW?

    Because I forgot the sugar. That’s how.


    Here’s to baking challenges and adventures!


    • Reply shannon June 2, 2012 at 5:55 am

      (exhales slowly after reading story re: dough-batter)

      i have SO done that. sometimes i think it should be a felony or something to write “no fail” (although i’ve done it myself) because it’s basically just like salt in the wound to those of us who can easily find random ways to fail. it’s almost like a throwing down of a baking gauntlet: “no fail. i DARE YOU to fail.”

      (sigh back)

      here’s to you going to baking school and becoming my encyclopedia of baking know-how.

  • Reply natalie May 31, 2012 at 7:08 am

    “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. ” – That pretty much sums up why I haven’t made any of the Momofuku cookies. This one, however, I think even I could handle 🙂

    • Reply shannon June 2, 2012 at 5:50 am

      natalie, listen: i’ve seen your blog. you made croissants which looked like angels from heaven. i don’t want to hear about extra work from you. 🙂 you could totally handle this. pretend like the crumbs are just a snack you’re making yourself and then accidentally throw them into the cookies.

  • Reply Ashley May 31, 2012 at 8:38 am

    Awesome and inspiring! I’ve had my fair share of “cooking adventures”…and recently it has made me more determined to retry the recipe, to prove to myself I could do it. I appreciate hearing someone else has the same slightly crazed mentality. Thanks! Also, I love the blog – great writing, wonderful photos, delicious recipes.

    • Reply shannon June 2, 2012 at 5:48 am

      ashley, it’s really an illness, right? the “i have to challenge myself/prove to myself i can do this” mentality. 🙂 i love that you share it with me. between the time i posted this and today, i’ve screwed something else up, and this time i have no idea what i did. am i going to try it again? totally. thank you so, so much for your kind words about the blog, and the absolute best of luck with your second go at the recipe. here’s to baking adventures. 🙂

  • Reply Brianne May 31, 2012 at 10:41 am

    I love making Momofuku cookies. I also love your thorough, thoughtful notes on each of these recipes. I haven’t had time to crank out my Milk Bar book for a while…I better get on that!

    Alas, other baking projects are calling my name. I am hosting hordes of visitors these next couple of weeks. There’s blueberry pie to be had, and I just realized (bad big sister alert) that my sister will be turning 12 when she’s out here with my family! So I get to make her a birthday cake. It won’t be Momofuku, but it will still be fun 🙂

    • Reply shannon June 2, 2012 at 5:45 am

      momofuku can wait! you sound like you have tons to do in the near future. sounds like fun though…and blueberry pie? my goodness…i think i just did a little drool there. i’ve been contemplating doing one of those too; ’tis the season, after all. and you’re smack in the right place for it.
      happy birthday to your sister! omg 12 years old…what i would give sometimes…:) every birthday cake is fun when it’s homemade, i think. have such a great time with your family and your guests!

  • Reply Jen @ Juanita's Cocina May 31, 2012 at 11:10 am

    So, I may or may not have laughed out loud at, “I’m superstitious by now about how I chill my balls.”

    My life is hectic. I wish I could write more, but I can’t.

    So, instead I’ll just say, you rock more than Tosi, babe.

    • Reply shannon June 2, 2012 at 5:43 am

      ha! honestly, if you look closely, you can tell the depth of my exhaustion by some of my posts. most of them are fine, because mostly i’m fine. this day, i think i was loopy. 🙂

      jen: as i read this, you are done. with. school. not because it’s saturday, but because it’s SUMMER AND YOU ARE DONE. i hope you’re sleeping in right now. i’d make you breakfast cookies in bed and bring them over if i could to celebrate.

  • Reply Choc Chip Uru May 31, 2012 at 2:17 pm

    What an awesome post my friend – I loved reading it though these colossal cookies kept distracting me with their all-chocolate goodness 😀

    Choc Chip Uru

    • Reply shannon June 2, 2012 at 5:41 am

      thank you so much! they kept me pretty distracted myself around here. i had to force them on others so i wouldn’t eat them all myself. 🙂

  • Reply Mary Rose May 31, 2012 at 9:17 pm

    I’ve been waiting for this blog! Super job as always, my Momofuku mentor!

    I’m wondering: have you done a comparison between a Momofuku cookie made with glucose and one made subbing corn syrup?

    My own results, while amazing, do not look like and probably do not taste like yours. Is it the corn syrup (I hesitate to buy a bucket of glucose), or perhaps the altitude (I’m at 4200 feet)? I follow the recipes carefully. But no matter what, I will not stop until I have tried them all!

    • Reply shannon June 2, 2012 at 5:40 am

      mary rose, i should thank you for inspiring me to get on this cookie! thank you very much, that’s very nice of you to say. heaven help all of you who think i’m a mentor of any sort, but i appreciate the love.

      you know, i’ve not done a side by side comparison of glucose to corn syrup yet, although i have used the former in some cookies and the latter in others. i should do one just to see if there’s a large difference, either in taste or texture. both have worked for me, and i wonder if the trickier cookies (like the cornflake one or the fruity pebble) would benefit from glucose. you may have just given me another experiment with those last two cookies i need to make. 🙂

      i was having my own thoughts on that with the Momofuku ice creams too…some, if not all, call for glucose, and ice cream can be touchy. wonder if it makes a difference there too? thankfully i’m all over the ice creams this summer, so we’ll know soon enough.

      hey: i say if they’re amazing, then they’re amazing. i wish i could send you some so you could compare taste, because i bet they’re not as far off as you think. altitude, i’ve heard, is a bear for trying to bake, so good for you for not getting frustrated! 🙂

  • Reply Willow June 1, 2012 at 9:54 am

    Wow – now those are chocolate cookies!! They sound so worth the effort.

    Also, wanted to let you know I nominated you for an award – check out my most recent post to find it. 🙂

    • Reply shannon June 2, 2012 at 5:32 am

      willow, thank you so much! for the cookie compliment and the blog award; so sweet of you. and it reminds me, i have a few blog awards to pass along, so thank you for that too. 🙂 i’m heading right over.

  • Reply Katherine {eggton} March 30, 2013 at 1:01 pm

    I just made the batter for these and popped them in the fridge. It came together without a snag because your instructions are, as always, amazing.

    Can’t wait to bake them later! And also to sprinkle my left-over chocolate crumbs over some vanilla ice cream.

    • Reply Katherine {eggton} March 30, 2013 at 7:59 pm

      Oh my goodness I just made these and they are PHENOMENAL. They melt in your mouth. They taste like a dense, creamy cloud of salted chocolate. WOW. Scott loves them, too, and he allegedly “doesn’t like chocolate cookies.”

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