Long before she opened the first Momofuku Milk Bar bakery in New York City in 2008, Christina Tosi knew that one of the signature cookies would be made from corn. Scratch that: It’s not merely made from corn, it emphasizes corn.
“My mom grew up in the cornfields of Ohio,” she says, “and I grew up eating cornmeal and corn bake and spoonbread, and finding this idealized version of cornbread in cookie form was something I just knew I had to do, and the reason the corn cookie exists.”
The compost cookie might be her most famous, but the corn cookie — perhaps because I can never get enough of the taste of sweet summer corn — is my favorite. Soon after Tosi opened the CityCenterDC outlet of Milk Bar in October, drawing lines out the door, I asked if she’d show me how she makes them.
In my kitchen, with video cameras rolling, Tosi was full of tips for making sure the homemade cookies don’t pale in comparison with those at the bakery. They include:
Pay attention to the ingredients. That means using good unsalted butter (so you can control the salt amount later) and kosher salt (which gives a nice sharpness). Even more important: the two forms of corn. Seek out corn flour — a finer grind than cornmeal — and corn powder, pulverized freeze-dried corn that Milk Bar sells (or that can be made at home).
Don’t rush the creaming. Tosi wanted to find a way to get an inordinate amount of butter into her cookies without turning them flat and lacy, and she discovered that the longer she creams the butter, sugar and egg in a stand mixer — up to 10 minutes! — the better the cookies will hold. “We’re basically defying cookie gravity,” she says, making for a fudgy center and chewy, crispy edges.
Use a professional “disher.” To achieve the Milk Bar size (large!), use a 2
Chill the cookies after forming them. If you’re in a hurry, you can bake the corn cookies right after scooping them. “But for the perfect, perfect cookie, chilling them for one to two hours is ideal, and that’s because we forced so much butter into these,” and chilling keeps the butter from seeping out during baking. “That’s how you make a good cookie into an awesome cookie.”
MAKE AHEAD: The portions of dough need to be refrigerated for at least 1 hour and up to 1 week. They can be frozen for up to 1 month: Freeze on a baking sheet until firm, then transfer to an airtight container; when ready to bake, arrange the dough portions on 2 baking sheets and leave for 15 minutes at room temperature before baking. The baked cookies can be refrigerated in an airtight container for up to 1 week or frozen for up to 1 month.
Find Bob’s Red Mill corn flour at Whole Foods Markets and natural foods stores. Corn powder is available from Milk Bar stores online at milkbarstore.com, or you can make your own by grinding freeze-dried corn (available under the Just Tomatoes brand at some natural foods stores and online at justtomatoes.com).
Adapted from “Momofuku Milk Bar,” by Christina Tosi (Clarkson Potter, 2011).
16 tablespoons (225 grams, 2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature
11/2 cups (300 grams) sugar
1 large egg
11/2 cups packed (225 grams) bread flour
1/4 cup packed corn flour (45 grams; see headnote)
About 2 ounces (65 grams) freeze-dried corn, ground to a powder (2/3 cup packed; see headnote)
3/4 teaspoon (3 grams) baking powder
1/4 teaspoon (11/2 grams) baking soda
11/2 teaspoons (6 grams) kosher salt
Line two large baking sheets with parchment paper.
Combine the butter and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer or handheld electric mixer; beat on medium-high speed for 2 to 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl. Add the egg and beat for 7 to 8 minutes or until very light and fluffy. (Do not rush this step, as it helps the cookie dough incorporate a large amount of butter.) Stop to scrape down the bowl.
On low speed, add the bread flour, corn flour, corn powder, baking powder, baking soda and salt; beat just until the dough comes together, no longer than 1 minute.
Use a 23/4-ounce ice cream scoop (or a 1/3-cup measure) to portion out all the dough on one of the baking sheets. Pat the tops of the dough domes flat. Wrap the sheet tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour (or up to 1 week).
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
Divide the chilled dough portions between the two baking sheets, spacing the portions at least 4 inches apart. Bake for 18 minutes or until the cookies are lightly browned on the edges yet still bright yellow in the center. (They will have puffed, crackled and spread.)
Cool the cookies completely on the baking sheets before serving or storing.
Ingredients are too variable for a meaningful analysis.
Recipe tested by Joe Yonan; e-mail questions to firstname.lastname@example.org