Recipe: Compost Cookies

Terrible name for a cookie, I know. You won't care after you taste them though, because they will KNOCK your socks off. I heard about Compost Cookies from my sister's friend who swears by them and happens to be an avid baker as well. I first tried one when my sis wisely brought back five of them from the said friend's house. The dear offered one to me and I scarfed two without breathing. These cookies hit on all the right things: crispy, salty and sweet. I taste notes of caramel and brown sugar along with pockets of salty goodness. The texture is outta control too. It's one of the tastiest cookies I've ever had. Believe it. The recipe comes from a legit place too: the cookbook of the famous NYC bakery Momofuku Milk Bar. Christina Tosi, the chef/owner of Milk Bar, gave the cookies this name because it's made up of a hodgepodge of her favorite snacks: chocolate and butterscotch chips, potato chips, pretzels, graham crackers and coffee. She says "My brother-in-law calls them 'garbage cookies'; others call them 'kitchen sink cookies.' Call them what you want, and make them as we make them at Milk Bar, or add your own favorite snacks to the cookie base in place of ours."

One thing to note, some of the ingredients aren't commonly found in grocery stores, such as "glucose," but luckily Amazon seems to have them. I've included links for the challenging ones.

Compost Cookies
Recipe from Momofuku Milk Bar (I recently acquired this book for my burfday, thank you sister!)
Yield: makes 15 to 20 BIG cookies (see picture below to get an idea of scale)

Ingredients - Compost Cookies
225 g (16 tablespoons) butter, at room temperature
200 g (1 cup) granulated sugar
150 g (2⁄3 cup tightly packed) light brown sugar
50 g (2 tbs) glucose
1 egg
2 g (1/2 tsp) vanilla extract
225 g (1 1⁄3 cups) flour
2 g (1/2 tsp) baking powder
1.5 g (1/4 tsp) baking soda
4 g (1 tsp) kosher salt
150 g (3/4 cup) mini chocolate chips
100 g (1/2 cup) mini butterscotch chips
1/4 recipe (1/2 cup) Graham Crust (recipe below)
40 g (1⁄3 cup) old-fashioned rolled oats
5 g (2 1/2 tsp) ground coffee
50 g (2 cups) potato chips (Cape Cod is what's recommended)
50 g (1 cup) mini pretzels

Ingredients - Graham Crust (you only need 1/4 of this recipe. I just halved the recipe.)
190 g (1 1/2 cups) graham cracker crumbs
20 g (1/4 cup) milk powder
25 g (2 tbs) sugar
3 g (3/4 tsp) kosher salt
55 g (4 tbs) butter, melted, or as needed
55 g (1/4 cup) heavy cream

Large and in charge

Directions - Graham Crust (you only need 1/4 of this recipe. I just halved the recipe.)
1.  Toss the graham crumbs, sugar, and salt with your hands in a medium bowl to evenly distribute your dry ingredients.
2. Whisk the brown sugar, 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 1 1/2 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.

Directions - Compost Cookies
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. (See page 27 for notes on this process.)
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 over mixing 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 over mix 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 2 3/4 oz ice cream scoop (or a 1/3 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.
6.  Arrange the chilled dough a minimum of 4 inches apart on parchment- or Silpat-lined sheet pans. Bake for 18 minutes. 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. Pro Tip: Mine took 16 mins. Always start a few mins under the recommended time when baking. Every oven is different! I pulled a rookie move and overcooked my first batch because I went with 18 mins. Dummy.
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.

Tips from Christina: In a pinch, substitute 18 g (1 tablespoon) corn syrup for the glucose. For the “coffee grounds” in this cookie, we tested the recipe with freshly roasted and ground artisanal coffee from Stumptown as well as with crap-tastic coffee grounds that you can find just about anywhere. We discovered that it doesn’t make a difference what kind you use; the cookie is delicious every time. Just make sure you don’t use instant coffee; it will dissolve in the baking process and ruin the cookies. And, above all else, never use wet, sogalicious grounds that have already brewed a pot of coffee. We use Cape Cod potato chips because they aren’t paper-thin, and so they do not break down too much in the mixing process.

Recipe: Iced Pumpkin Cookies

So the next thing I know, I'm married and it's almost November. What?! Time flies when you're in a wedding tornado, I tell ya. Now with the wedding behind me, I have MUCH more time on my hands to do important things like finish up season 2 of Homeland (holy crap that was one heck of a season finale!), partake in happy hours (hi wine! I've missed you) and BAKE (nice knowing you wedding diet)! Yes, I'm back in the saddle my friends. Since it's Fall and all, I decided to make something with gourds because that shit is so seasonal. Cue Iced Pumpkin Cookies. This is a nice straight forward recipe, no fancy moves in this one. This would also make for a fabulous Thanksgiving dessert (speaking of Thanksgiving, somebody needs to tell Macy's that Christmas is NOT the next Holiday).

Iced Pumpkin Cookies
Recipe from All Recipes
Yield: Makes 3 dozen cookies

Ingredients – Cookies
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups white sugar
1 cup canned pumpkin puree
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Ingredients – Icing
2 cups confectioners' sugar
3 tablespoons milk
1 tablespoon melted butter
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg, ground cloves, and salt; set aside.
2.  In a medium bowl, cream together the 1/2 cup of  butter and white sugar. Add pumpkin, egg, and 1 teaspoon vanilla to butter mixture, and beat until creamy. Mix in dry ingredients. Drop on cookie sheet by tablespoonfuls; flatten slightly. Pro Tip: I skipped the flattening part.
3.  Bake for 15 to 20 minutes in the preheated oven. Cool cookies, then drizzle glaze with fork. Note: Mine took 12 mins on the nose and I love me some glaze so I spread small dollops on each cookie with the back of a spoon for a better glaze to cookie ratio.
4.  To Make Glaze: Combine confectioners' sugar, milk, 1 tablespoon melted butter, and 1 teaspoon vanilla. Add milk as needed, to achieve drizzling consistency.

photo cred: my hubs

I’m in love with my cookie scooper. It completes me.

Half tempted to close this with a line from McSweeney's article, but I'm afraid I'll offend I'll go with the PG version:

Welcome to autumn, yammos!

Recipe(s): The Hunt For The Best Chocolate Chip Cookie

I have a buddy who is equally as much of a dessert fiend as I am. He’s been known to eat a WHOLE pan of brownies in the middle of the night because he “just couldn’t help himself” (true story). One of his favorite desserts is chocolate chip cookies and he’s been pestering me to post a recipe for these. Oh, I'll post one all right, how about we go on a little hunt for the BEST chocolate chip cookie recipe? Boomtown.

My game plan was to try out four different recipes (I mean, a girl can only make so many different choco chip cookies in a day) that have grabbed my attention in some way, but still have all the classic cookie ingredients. I also wanted to do a blind taste test to see which of these took the gold. I chose a sunny Sunday to stay indoors and embark on my quest and after gathering all of the ingredients, it was go time. Here are the four different recipes I tried, along with my review of each one.

Supplies: check! The cookie scooper my new FAVORITE baking tool.

One thing to note, the taste-testers were real softies and had a hard time ranking each of these. There were a lot of cookies that tied for 2nd or 3rd place- I don’t even think anyone gave out a 4th place. It felt a lot like elementary school tee ball where everyone got a trophy at the end of the season, even if your team came in dead last. Hell, did they even keep score at that age? I digress, back to cookie makin’!

Nestlés Chocolate Chip Cookies

First up: Nestlés Chocolate Chip Cookies. A classic. The recipe is conveniently located on the back of the Nestlés Chocolate Chip bag. Such smarties. I choose this recipe because it’s an all-American cookie to me. Anytime I needed to make a batch of choco chippers, I reached for this recipe. It’s quick, it’s easy and it’s always a crowd pleaser.

Nestlés Chocolate Chip Cookies
: Makes 60 cookies 

2 1/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, softened
3/4 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
2 large eggs
2 cups (12-oz. pkg.) Nestlé Toll House Semi-Sweet Chocolate Morsels

1.  PREHEAT oven to 375° F.
2.  COMBINE flour, baking soda and salt in small bowl. Beat butter, granulated sugar, brown sugar and vanilla extract in large mixer bowl until creamy. Add eggs, one at a time, beating well after each addition. Gradually beat in flour mixture. Stir in morsels and nuts. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto ungreased baking sheets.
3.  BAKE for 9 to 11 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on baking sheets for 2 minutes; remove to wire racks to cool completely.

The taste testers really enjoyed these, myself included. Some said it tastes like a chocolate chip cookie should taste like- no bells and whistles. My dad gave it 1st place because it tasted familiar and comforting, a cookie you'd have with your family after a  home-cooked meal. My sister gave it a tied 1st place (here we go) for the same reasons, but a few of the taste testers weren't as impressed and gave it a tied for 3rd place <gasp>.

Overall Rating: 4 sticks of butter

The Best Chocolate Chip Cookies

I found this next recipe through a gal I was in a foodie book club with. She claimed it was the best chocolate chip cookie she’s ever eaten, but you don’t get that sense by the way the recipe is named: The Best Chocolate Chip Cookies. It sounds like my 3 year old nephew named it, but I was still curious enough to give it a go, because you know, the name could be telling the truth. She’s also an amazing baker/chef so I knew they had to be pretty legit.

The Best Chocolate Chip Cookies
: Makes roughly two dozen cookies

1 cup unsalted butter, at room temperature
1 cup brown sugar
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
2 teaspoons vanilla
3 1/4 cups flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
2 12 oz. bags of semi-sweet chocolate chips (use the highest-quality chips you can afford)  Note: I used Ghirardelli semi sweet chocolate chips

1.  Heat oven to 350 degrees.
2.  Using an electric stand mixer, cream sugar and butter until combined, about 1-2 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, until mixture is light and fluffy, about 2 minutes. Add vanilla and mix until incorporated.
3.  In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking soda, and salt. Slowly add flour mixture to sugar mixture. Finally, add chocolate chips and mix until incorporated.
4.  Using an ice cream scoop or two spoons, drop golfball-sized mounds on a cookie sheet about two inches apart. Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until cookies are golden brown along edges.

These cookies took 1st prize for presentation. They looked really pretty coming out of the oven- nicely puffed up with a lovely light tan color. As far as taste went, they were buttery and noticeably a bit sweeter than the others. The taste testers liked these a lot, most giving them a solid 2nd place.

Overall Rating: 4.5 sticks of butter

Thick and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies

Next up was a recipe I’ve wanted to try ever since my coworker raved to me about them, saying they were her go-to cookie recipe: Thick and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies. I chose this recipe because they sound like a cookie should sound like: un-wimpy. There’s nothing worse than a wimpy cookie, am I right?

Thick and Chewy Chocolate Chip Cookies
: Makes 18 jumbo cookies or two dozen regular sized cookies.

2 cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon kosher or sea salt
3/4 cup unsalted butter, melted and cooled until warm
1 cup light or dark brown sugar, firmly packed
1/2 cup granulated sugar
1 large egg plus 1 large egg yolk
2 teaspoons vanilla extract
2 cups semisweet chocolate chips (more or less, as desired)  Note: I used fancy chocolate: Scharffen Berger 62% cacao semisweet chocolate baking bar, coarsely chopped

1.  Heat oven to 325°F (160°C). Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper.
2.  Whisk flour, baking soda, and salt together in medium bowl; set aside.
3.  Either by hand or with an electric mixer, mix butter and sugars until thoroughly blended. Beat in egg, yolk and vanilla until combined. Add dry ingredients and beat at low speed just until combined. Stir in chips to taste.
4.  Roll scant 1/4 cup dough into ball. Holding dough ball in fingertips of both hands, pull into two equal halves. Rotate halves ninety degrees and with jagged surfaces facing up, join halves together at their base, again forming a single ball, being careful not to smooth dough's uneven surface. Place formed dough onto cookie sheet, leaving 2 1/2-inches between each ball. Pro Tip: I didn’t do this. It sounded confusing so I just used my cookie scooper and called it a day.
5.  Bake, reversing position of cookie sheets halfway through baking, until cookies are light golden brown and outer edges start to harden yet centers are still soft and puffy, about 18 to 22 minutes.
6.  Cool cookies on sheets. When cooled, peel cookies from parchment.

Well, these were exactly what I expected: thick and chewy. They came out looking super flat, but definitely had the best texture of the bunch. The taste testers weren’t as impressed with these mostly ranking them at tied for 3rd place. I’d have to agree with their ranking- the flavor wasn’t as buttery as I tend to like my CCCs (chocolate chip cookies).

Overall Rating: 3.5 sticks of butter

NY Times Chocolate Chip Cookies and the taste testers in action.

Lastly, I took a stab at the famous New York Times Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe, adapted from Jacques Torres. There’s a lot of hub-bub around this recipe so it seemed blasphemous not to try it out. Sadly, I did not follow the recipe exactly because high-maintenance Jacques asks for the dough to sit 24-48 hours. Frankly Jacques, that’s too long to wait for cookie consumption, come on. After cursing Jacques name, I settled on making the dough first, let it sit for most of the day, and bake them last. Close enough.

NY Times Chocolate Chip Cookies
: Makes two dozen cookies

2 cups minus 2 tablespoons
(8 1/2 ounces) cake flour
1 2/3 cups (8 1/2 ounces) bread flour
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoons coarse salt
2 1/2 sticks (1 1/4 cups) unsalted butter
1 1/4 cups (10 ounces) light brown sugar
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons (8 ounces) granulated sugar
2 large eggs
2 teaspoons natural vanilla extract
1 1/4 pounds bittersweet chocolate disks or fèves, at least 60 percent cacao content Note: I used Scharffen Berger 70% cacao bittersweet chocolate baking bar, coarsely chopped
Sea salt.

Directions - NY Times Chocolate Chip Cookies
1.  Sift flours, baking soda, baking powder and salt into a bowl. Set aside.
2.  Using a mixer fitted with paddle attachment, cream butter and sugars together until very light, about 5 minutes. Add eggs, one at a time, mixing well after each addition. Stir in the vanilla. Reduce speed to low, add dry ingredients and mix until just combined, 5 to 10 seconds. Drop chocolate pieces in and incorporate them without breaking them. Press plastic wrap against dough and refrigerate for 24 to 36 hours. Dough may be used in batches, and can be refrigerated for up to 72 hours.
3.  When ready to bake, preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a nonstick baking mat. Set aside.
4.  Scoop 6 3 1/2-ounce mounds of dough (the size of generous golf balls) onto baking sheet, making sure to turn horizontally any chocolate pieces that are poking up; it will make for a more attractive cookie. Sprinkle lightly with sea salt and bake until golden brown but still soft, 18 to 20 minutes. Transfer sheet to a wire rack for 10 minutes, then slip cookies onto another rack to cool a bit more. Repeat with remaining dough, or reserve dough, refrigerated, for baking remaining batches the next day. Eat warm, with a big napkin.

This recipe was annoying to make, but damnit, I’d be a liar if I said it wasn’t delicious. Consistency was spot on and the bittersweet chocolate with the hint of salt was a perfect pairing. The taste testers agreed, almost everyone ranked them at 1st place. Lots of love for the salty addition. Jacques, you’ve done good you handsome, baking bastard. (I just googled Mr. Torres after calling him handsome. Perhaps I was a little generous with that description.) If you have the patience to make these cookies, do it, because they’re really good.

Overall Rating: 5 glorious sticks of butter

Final Thoughts?
If you’re looking to dazzle someone with a CCC and happen to have 24-48 hours to wait, definitely make the NY Times Chocolate Chip Cookie. It’s a hit and a half. If you want to impress people with a darn good-looking cookie, go for The Best Chocolate Chip Cookie.

Lastly, to my dessert-loving friend who inspired me to go hog-wild with cookie baking, the next time you’re in town, a batch of one of these cookies is on me!