Have You Ever Had a Cookie That Changed Your Life?
Because I have — several times — and each instance the cookie bar gets raised a little bit higher than it was before. I don’t think that’s going to happen again after I made this Compost Cookie.
From the mind of the whimsical baking genius herself, Chistina Tosi of Milk Bar, this cookie *literally* has everything you could ever want in it. It’s got butterscotch morsels, chocolate chips, coffee grounds, graham cracker pie crust, oats, potato chips, and pretzels all baked into a perfectly crispy cookie.
You take one bite of this and you know you’ve just created something really special. The secret comes from creaming the butter, sugars, and egg together properly and for the right amount of time. Too long, and the butter will begin to separate. Too short, and you won’t get the airy yet crispy but still chewy texture that this cookie is known for.
I learned two things the hard way by doing this:
You either need a mixer of some sort or super-soft butter if you want to cream this mixture without a mixer
Googling “How to cream something by hand” does NOT return results regarding anything to do with baking
Everyone I gave this cookie to said it was one of the best and most unique cookies they’ve ever had. I personally think it’s strength comes from how balanced it is. It’s perfectly sweet, salty, crispy, and chewy at the same time.
Let’s take a look at how it’s done:
I doubled the recipe because I wanted to bake enough for both my office and family, and I highly recommend that you do the same. Here is a link to Milk Bar’s full recipe and instructions if you want to follow along with the experts, but listed below are my doubled conversions — done by volume.
Four sticks of room temperature butter
Two cups of granulated sugar
One 2/3 cup of light brown sugar
Four tablespoons of corn syrup
One teaspoon of vanilla extract
Two 2/3 cups of flour
One teaspoon of baking powder
1/2 teaspoon of baking soda
Two teaspoons of kosher salt
One 1/2 cups of mini chocolate chips
One cup of mini butterscotch chips
One cup of graham cracker crust (or graham crackers)
2/3 cup of old-fashioned rolled oats
Five teaspoons of ground coffee (NOT instant coffee)
Four cups of potato chips (kettle preferably, stands up to the baking best)
Two cups of mini pretzels
Okay, so, I really didn’t know this was a baking term that was widely used until I read Christina Tosi’s Momofuku Milk Bar cookbook.
In the book, she stresses the need to have room temperature butter because otherwise, the creaming process will take forever — and she was more than right about that. Pair that with attempting to do this by hand at first, and I thought I was heading towards failure early in this process.
Thankfully I discovered we owned a hand mixer, and then my life became very easy after that. The process should take 2-4 minutes, depending on how cold your butter is.
Be wary of having your butter too warm because if the mixture ends up being soupy, you’ve done something wrong. Throw the bowl in the fridge to let the butter firm up.
Think of the creaming process like laminating butter into dough or whipping egg whites in meringue to get volume. You want something that is gritty and holds its shape like a traditional cookie dough when you are done adding the eggs.
Once the eggs are added, we move onto the next part of the process:
Adding Dry Ingredients
This one is pretty self-explanatory. Don’t overbeat your batter here, just work things until they are incorporated.
Essentially when the flour is entirely mixed in and not hiding in any corners of your bowl, you’ve done this properly.
Adding the Fun Stuff
So the fun stuff (what makes the compost cookie what it really is) gets added in two stages.
First, the mini chocolate chips, mini butterscotch chips, rolled oats, coffee grounds, and graham cracker crust gets added. If you don’t want to go to the trouble of making/buying graham cracker crust, you can just use graham crackers and wonder what the difference really is.
After you gently mix this on low until just incorporated, you add the potato chips and mini pretzels and ever so slightly mix until it is fully incorporated. Try not to crush this too much or else you’ll miss out on the signature crunch they offer this cookie.
THE MOST IMPORTANT PART OF THIS PROCESS
Honestly, not to hyperpolarize, but this made a world of difference between my first and second bake.
You need to chill this dough for longer than one hour and do not shape them, then chill them as the recipe says to, unless you have an ice cream scoop and plan on baking these off in small batches *and* have the space to do this on a cookie sheet. If you don’t have the fridge space of a pastry chef, just put the dough in a lock and lock to harden.
The colder the dough, the colder the butter. The colder the butter, the slower it melts in the baking process and becomes that toasty/buttery and goodness that you know and love.
Samin Nosrat in Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat says some people believe the key to getting hired as a pastry chef is to have naturally cold hands because the pastries they make are superior to their hot-handed counterparts — so I guess I am out of luck.
Chill the dough for at least three hours and up to overnight for the best results. Christina Tosi says to use a two ¾ oz ice cream scoop but if you’re like me and aren’t an ice cream enthusiast with multiple sized scoops, just use two big spoons and try to spoon about ⅓ cup of dough onto a parchment-lined baking sheet about four inches apart.
Stick them into an oven that’s been preheated to 375 degrees. Set a timer for 12-13 minutes and check on them once the alarm goes off.
Depending on your oven, your next timer will vary. If your oven runs hot, they’ll probably need another 5 minutes. If your oven is inconsistent, you might want to give it an upwards of 8 minutes, but be careful they don’t burn.
You should end up with cookies that are golden brown and crispy on edge, almost nearing burned looking. The center should be fully cooked and not gooey, so when it cools fully, it’ll be perfectly chewy and tender.
Let them cool fully on the baking sheet before moving to a plate or air-tight container for storage.
The doubled version of the recipe I made yielded about 30-35 cookies and hypothetically speaking they can last up to five days. But frankly, I’d be surprised if they make it more than two days because like a Lays potato chip, you can’t just have one.