Sunday, May 1, 2016

Compost Cookies

Ever since Earth Day, Matthew has been bugging us to start composting. His entire Kindergarten class enjoyed a field trip to a local nature reserve where they learned all about the importance of recycling, composting, and taking care of our earth. Ever since, Matthew has been the Recycle Nazi. He is constantly picking through our trash and pointing out things that should be recycled. Just this morning, there was a Gatorade bottle in the trash that he pulled out and indignantly pointed to the recycle label at the bottom, "See Mom? It says to RECYCLE this. You should recycle, reuse, REDUCE!" Admittedly, we should be more strict about the recycling than we are. It's one of the items on the very long list of things that I feel guilty about on a regular basis.

Back to the compost. On the afternoon immediately following his field trip, Matthew came home and asked me if he could play outside. It was a beautiful day and I was more than happy for him to spend some time getting some fresh air while I prepared dinner and struggled to keep Lucy out of the kitchen cabinets. When Paul came  home, he was greeted by a very dirty Matthew who proudly announced that he had dug a hole in the lawn.

"What do you mean you dug a hole in the yard?!" was Paul's angry reply. Not quite the reaction Matthew was expecting.

This hole that Matthew had worked so hard digging out was in fact the beginnings of his compost. He explained that we were to put our apple cores, sand, egg shells, leaves, grass, or cardboard into his "compost pit." I don't think he quite understood the purpose of composting because he thought it was for "feeding all the earthworms." Paul promised to build a compost with Matthew if he promised not to dig any more holes in our yard. Matthew agreed and this weekend he and Paul are going to start composting. Matthew is a little ecologist in the making.

While Paul and Matthew are out playing with dirt and table scraps, I will be inside doing my own form of composting in the form of the baking of these compost cookies. Oh my, these are good. Like a good compost, this cookie dough includes a little bit of everything - chocolate, butterscotch, oats, potato chips, pretzels, and coffee - and all the flavors blend together into a treat that is simultaneously sweet, salty, chewy and buttery. Paul took one bite and I actually witnessed his eyes roll into the back of his head with pleasure as he declared: "I think I may have found my new favorite cookie."

The cookies are a bit more involved than your back-of-the-bag chocolate chip cookie recipe, but the extra effort is certainly worth it. For example, you have to make a graham cracker crust to include in the cookies - but really, it's not that difficult because it only involves mixing a couple ingredients. Once you make your cookie dough, you have to chill it for a period of time to ensure that the cookies bake up correctly. Also, my cookies were HUGE so I could really only fit three or four on my baking sheet at a time when it came time to bake them. This meant that it took 5-6 separate batches before all the cookies were made. You could of course fix this problem by making the cookies smaller, but please adjust the baking time accordingly. I found that these cookies over-baked very quickly, so please keep an eye on them to ensure that they do not go up in flames!

Like composting, making these cookies requires a little extra effort but the reward shall be great!

Compost Cookies
from the Milk Bar Cookbook

Note: I weigh all my ingredients for these recipes because I want to replicate the results at the actual Milk Bar in NYC as close as possible. However, the conventional measurements are also included.

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 or 18 g (1 tablespoon) light corn syrup
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
50 g (1 cup) mini pretzels

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.)

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.

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.

Using 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.

Preheat the oven to 375 degrees.

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.

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.

Graham Crust
makes about 340 g (2 cups)

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

Toss the graham crumbs, milk powder, sugar, and salt with your hands in a medium bowl to evenly distribute your dry ingredients.

Whisk the butter and heavy cream together. add to the dry ingredients and toss again to evenly distribute. the butter will act as 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 1½ table- spoons) butter and mix it in).

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.

1 comment:

  1. I'll admit...I would have yelled at you too about the gatorade bottle (sorry, I lovingly yell at people a lot about's a big thing for me.). We're really good about adding to our compost bin....not so much actually using the dirt we are making!
    These cookies were the first time I ever heard of Milk Bar! They sound crazy but good crazy!