Cookies for an Anniversary
It has now been just over two years that I am living in Zürich, Switzerland. Two years that I have been gushing to you on this blog just how in love with this city (and the entire country for that matter) I am. If you’re thinking that the whole excitement of what’s new and exotic has perhaps worn off by now… nope. Not one bit. I am still in the newlywed phase with Zürich, a giddy sort of love that is resistant to any length of time.
But if forced to pick on this city I call home, well, I suppose I could fault it for a few things. And I won’t even get into the question of linguistics. Has anyone ever tried to learn Swiss German? My point exactly. For an interview with Expat Voices, I was asked what I miss the most. That answer was quite simple. Small talk. That is what I would criticize Zürich for – the lack of chit chat, whether it be with the lady at the cash register, the fellow on the park bench next to you, the waiter at a restaurant or just a stranger on the street. I’m from New York; I talk to everyone. And I miss that.
I also miss cookies.
Whenever I visit New York City, cookies are always on the agenda: Levain Bakery, City Bakery, Ruby et Violette, Spot Dessert Bar, Tate’s Cookies and Vosges Haut Chocolat (yes for cookies !), to name just a few. Pastry chefs and chocolatiers take the humble chocolate chip cookie to divine levels, like Jacques Torres for example. Sure you can find Lebkuchen and Luxemburgerli here in Zürich, as well as Italian amaretti and French macarons. But I am talking about good ol’ American cookies.
So what better way to ring in my second anniversary with Zürich than to bake cookies! But not just my all-time favorite, classic chocolate chip cookie (that I bake all the time). Rather, a cookie that probably wouldn’t even appear in Zürich should the city one day be taken over by cookie bakers. A very non-Swiss, sweet and salty, unique confection-packed cookie from New York City. Momofuku Milk Bar’s Compost Cookie, that is.
I tasted my first Compost Cookie shortly after Momofuku Milk Bar opened (November 2008) – and was immediately hooked. Made with tons of sweet and salty ingredients including potato chips and coffee grounds, and paired beautifully with a tall glass of cold milk, it was addicting. I was a mix-in kid; I grew up adding pretzels, rainbow sprinkles and assorted sugar cereals (Cap’n Crunch, Lucky Charms, Cinnamon Toast Crunch, Alpha-Bits,…) to my bowls of ice cream. I also loved adding marshmallows and M&M’s to homemade chocolate chip cookies. When my tastes, er, matured, I continued to play, adding homemade marshmallows and dates when baking cookies. So when Christina Tosi started making her signature cereal milk soft serve and crazy cookies and pies, she certainly had a fan in me. Coincidentally, I had interviewed her in 2005 when she was new to the pastry kitchen of North Square Restaurant at the Washington Square Hotel in Greenwich Village. I remember her telling me she was making her own butter in her NYU dorm room. I was always curious where she would end up.
Tosi surprisingly shared her famous recipe online, letting her fans use whatever mix-ins they would like. Adam of the Amateur Gourmet used chopped chocolate and crushed pretzels on his first conservative run. Jess, better known as the Klutzy Chef, was more adventurous adding pretzels, cheese crackers and the Swiss version of Sun Chips for salt; chocolate chips, chocolate and puffed rice covered caramels for sweet. For my first go, I had some fun and used purely American ingredients (above left) that were all a blast from my past: Cap’n Crunch cereal, plain M&M’s, mini marshmallows, Sno-Caps and pretzels. I would have used dark chocolate covered raisins, but… I ate them. For the second round I went a little less creative, and focused just on chocolate chips and pretzels, chocolate covered pretzels also being a big part of my childhood. But I think the fun (and deliciousness) of this recipe – is the more ingredients, the better. So next time, I’m thinking espresso powder, oats, Reece’s Pieces, speculoos…
What would you put in your cookie??
* Full disclosure: on my most recent trip to New York City (June 2010), I was sadly disappointed by the Compost Cookie. I hope it was simply an off day in the Momofuku Milk Bar kitchen, which is now off-premises. The Chocolate Crumb Cookie, however, was outrageous. Oh, and for New Yorkers, did you know they deliver ?!
Christina Tosi’s Compost Cookies
recipe shared on Live with Regis & Kelly
1 cup Butter
1 cup Sugar
3/4 cup Light Brown Sugar
1 Tbsp Corn Syrup
1 tsp Vanilla Extract
2 Large Eggs
1 3/4 cups AP Flour
2 tsp Baking Powder
1 tsp Baking Soda
2 tsp Kosher Salt
1 1/2 cups Your favorite baking ingredients!
1 1/2 cups Your favorite snack foods (chips, pretzels, etc)
In a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, cream butter, sugars and corn syrup on medium high for 2-3 minutes until fluffy and pale yellow in color. Scrape down the sides of the mixing bowl with a spatula.
On a lower speed, add eggs and vanilla to incorporate. Increase mixing speed to medium-high and start a timer for 10 minutes. During this time the sugar granules will fully dissolve, the mixture will become an almost pale white color and your creamed mixture will double in size.
When time is up, on a lower speed, add the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Mix 45-60 sec just until your dough comes together and all remnants of dry ingredients have incorporated. Do not walk away from your mixer during this time or you will risk over mixing the dough. Scrape down the sides of the mixing bowl with a spatula.
On same low speed, add in the hodgepodge of your favorite baking ingredients and mix for 30-45 sec until they evenly mix into the dough. Add in your favorite snack foods last, paddling again on low speed until they are just incorporated.
Using a 6oz ice cream scoop, portion cookie dough onto a parchment lined sheetpan.
Wrap scooped cookie dough tightly with plastic wrap and refrigerate for a minimum of 1 hour or up to 1 week.
DO NOT BAKE your cookies from room temperature or they will not hold their shape.
Heat the conventional oven to 400F. (350F in a convection oven)
When the oven reads 400F, arrange your chilled cookie dough balls on a parchment or silpat-lined sheetpan a minimum of 4″ apart in any direction.
Bake 9-11 min. While in the oven, the cookies will puff, crackle and spread.
At 9 min the cookies should be browned on the edges and just beginning to brown towards the center. Leave the cookies in the oven for the additional minutes if these colors don’t match up and your cookies stills seem pale and doughy on the surface.
Cool the cookies completely on the sheet pan before transferring to a plate or an airtight container or tin for storage. At room temp, cookies will keep fresh 5 days. In the freezer, cookies will keep fresh 1 month.
Yield: 15 6oz cookies