Tag Archives: Cookies

Cookie Snobbery: Momofuku Milkbar Cookie Mixes

My name is Bethany Novak. And I am a snob.

No, not a snob for everything. I mean, I love my butler just as much as I love my housemaids. But they are NOT to look at me in the eyes.

Truth is, I am a cookie snob. I typically find that packaged cookie mixes are sub-par.

I know, I know. Fire up the stakes. Let’s burn the witch.

I was walking through Target on Saturday morning, wearing my Toronto Blue Jays hat, and playing a game where I make up player names in case someone ever asked me who my favorite player is. My latest one is Mark St. Clair. He was a 3rd baseman in the 90s. Had a .400 batting average. He is not real.

Anyway, I was walking up and down the aisles of Target without a list, which is really dangerous. You can spend a lot of money in there. But when you wander unencumbered by a list, hidden in the shadows of your Blue Jays hat, you make phenomenal discoveries. I stumbled upon Momofuku Milk Bar cookie mixes.

If you do not know Momofuku Milk Bar, you do now. It’s the bakery part of the Momofuku family of restaurants, which is based in NYC, and it’s delightful. It’s incredibly whimsical and yet nostalgic, but also so simple. Flavors straight out of childhood (or straight out of a smoky hotbox).

I’m a bit too familiar with the Milk Bar website for my own good. I bought some cookies and truffles as Christmas gifts this year. But I didn’t realize they sold these mixes at Target.

I started with the Compost Cookie, one of their signature flavors. Like other Target versions of haute brands, this product is a bit cheaper than you would get it on the Milk Bar site ($6.99 vs. $16.00). But you actually get a bit more cookie for your buck. A package from Target makes a dozen. The box from the Milk Bar site makes 9. Curious.

But what is not compromised in the slightest is the flavor. I’ve had the cookies from the bakery and they taste identical to the ones that I made in my kitchen this weekend. So, I stand corrected. Some cookie mixes can live up to the real thing. Mea culpa.

Compost Cookie, a tableau

Compost Cookie, a tableau

My friend Natalie saw my Instagram post about the mixes on Saturday and requested “a review with photos and lots of adjectives.” So without further ado, this is for you, Natalie. And anyone else who managed to make it through all the “jokes” to the point of the post.

Ok, adjectives. Um. Well. Yikes. Ok. These cookies are good. Err, no. They’re delicious.

No, those are fluff words that mean squat. Has watching Alton Brown taught me nothing??!

These cookies are perplexing. You shouldn’t want to like them but you do. They shouldn’t make sense but they do. They’re sweet. They’re super sweet. Chocolate chips and butterscotch chips combined put it almost over the edge. But then you come across the potato chips and the pretzels, which give a much-needed punch of salt. It’s a well-balanced cookie.

Mix it up

Mix it up

It’s also a cookie that is has great texture, almost like a granola bar. The crunchy pretz, the flaky chip, the thick oats. For all the stuff that is in it, it is packed full of flavor, but finishes really light. The cookies bake up soft in the middle, but caramelized on the edges.

Christina Tosi, you sexy bitch.

I’m not mad at it. 

This would be the cookie your grandma would make if you got your grandma kinda high. And everybody would love them. Regular grandma. High grandma. Kids. Adults.

Even the recovering snobs among us.

Momofuku Mixes are available at many but not all Target stores and on Target.com.

Check out Momofuku Milk Bar for their whole line of products. They ship pies, cakes, cookies, trufflies, mixes, cookbooks, etc. Word on the street is that the truffles are the tits.

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Jam Thumbprint Cookies, or as we like to call them, “Jam Thumpers”

It’s Christmastime, which is my favorite time of the year: the time when it is socially acceptable to eat cookies for breakfast.

Now, you really could eat cookies for breakfast every day and be alright in my book. Hell, I’ll vote for you for president. But, at Christmastime, it’s encouraged. With a cup of coffee and the tree on, maybe a little Vince Guaraldi Trio on in the background, eet’s nice. (If you celebrate Hannukahtime or Noneoftheabovetime, this also applies. Just adjust for the appropriate religious or non-religious symbols.)

Our favorite cookies aren’t really Christmas cookies, but they are delicious. And I just realized I’ve been making them over 10 years, which is weird.

Sidenote. It’s strange to make realizations relative to time. I’ve been out of college for 7 years. I’ve been making these cookies for 10 years. I’ve been I’ve been driving for 13 years. I’ve been bad at driving for 13 years.

Anyways. These cookies are made of buttery shortbread, rolled in coconut with a little bit of sweet jam on top. They’re Ina Garten’s Jam Thumbprints, so named because you make a thumbprint in the cookie to put the jam inside. However, for some reason, my mom forgot the name one year and started calling them “Jam Thumpers,” which I really like better.

And what’s more breakfast-y than jam?

…bacon.

 

Well, this post is ruined.

Ina Garten’s Jam Thumbprint Cookies, slightly adapted from Barefoot Contessa Family Style and foodnetwork.com

Ingredients

  • 3 sticks unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 3 ½ cups all-purpose flour
  • ¼ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon water for egg wash
  • 7 ounces sweetened flaked coconut | I used a bit more, probably 10 ounces
  • Raspberry and/or apricot jam | I used raspberry and blueberry. Go with your preferences, folks.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.

In an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream together the butter and sugar until they are just combined and then add the vanilla. Separately, sift together the flour and salt. With the mixer on low speed, add the flour mixture to the creamed butter and sugar. Mix until the dough starts to come together. If dough is still a bit crumbly, add 1-2 tablespoons of cold water so that it comes together. (I added 2.)

Dump on a floured board and roll together into a flat disk. Wrap in plastic and chill for 30 minutes.

Roll the dough into 1 1/4-inch balls, about the size of a golf ball. (If you have a scale they should each weigh 1 ounce.) Dip each ball into the egg wash and then roll it in coconut. Place the balls on an ungreased cookie sheet and press a light indentation into the top of each with your finger.

SEE. I told you.

SEE. I told you.

Drop 1/4 teaspoon of jam into each indentation. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes, until the coconut is a golden brown. Cool and serve.

Jam Thumbprints, Jam Thumpers. Potato, Pa-tah-to.

Jam Thumbprints, Jam Thumpers. Potato, Pa-tah-to.

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I think I figured out my problem with peanut butter cookies: I do not like peanut butter cookies. 

When I CRAVE the peanut butter, I want a heaping spoonful of peanut butter. Or a PB&J sammich. The extent of my peanut butter cravings is peanut butter M&Ms. …Oh man, now I want some peanut butter M&Ms so hard. But I’m in my pajamas (YES. STILL.) and that would require putting on shoes and a bra. 

Anyways. The peanut butter cookies were good. If you like that sort of thing.  

This is another Gramma recipe. Pretty simple recipe. The only thing I struggled with at all was baking time. But I’ll get to that later. Intrigued?? BAKING TIMES?! This is some scintillating shit, people. 

Ingredients:

  • 1 stick of butter, softened 
  • ½ cup of peanut butter
  • ½ cup of sugar
  • ½ cup of brown sugar
  • 1 egg 
  • 1½ cup of flour
  • ½ tsp of baking powder
  • ¾ tsp of baking soda
  • ¼ tsp of salt 

You’ll also need: a standing mixer or hand mixer/bowl, another mixing bowl and fork, baking sheets, spatula or wooden spoon, and some Pam. 

To soften butter, pull it out of the fridge about an hour before you bake and let it sit on the counter. If there’s a sunny patch, let it lay out like a hungover sorority girl on spring break. 

In your standing mixer or with a hand mixer, mix together thoroughly the butter, peanut butter, sugar, brown sugar and egg. 

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So here’s the one place I go off the reservation from Gramma’s recipe. She says to sift together the dry ingredients. But I don’t care for sifting because I find that it’s messy. I say combine flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a bowl and stir gently yet vigorously with a fork. It will give you that same light, airy texture you get from sifting but without getting flour all over your counter. You’re welcome. 

Stir dry ingredients into wet ingredients. 

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Wrap dough in plastic wrap and chill it in the fridge for an hour to an hour and a half. 

Roll into balls, about the size of walnuts. Place 3″ apart (specificity, people) on a lightly greased baking sheet. Flatten with a fork dipped in flour. Criss cross. 

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Bake at 375 for 9-10 minutes until set, but not hard. (…this is important…)

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So, there are a few things I was playing with when I made these cookies. 

I made one batch with the homemade peanut butter I’d made earlier in the week. And then I was worried it wasn’t going to turn out, so I made a double batch with Jif. What’s crazy is that the homemade peanut butter ones actually turned out better than the ones with the Jif. 

Now, a word of warning. I like gooey, soft cookies. And these cookies baked real hard, real fast. In fact, Gramma’s recipe called for baking them 10-12 minutes. I baked the first batch at 10 minutes, which burnt the edges of the cookies. After that, I baked every other batch at 9 minutes. And some of them came out softer and gooier (usually, the homemade peanut butter) and some of them came out crispy (usually the Jif). Since I have absolutely no culinary training, I have no idea why they would be different. But since I like to pretend that I know what I’m talking about, I would assume that store bought peanut butter has a lot more sugar in it than the homemade stuff I made, so maybe that was the reason. 

All in all, each batch made something like 2 dozen cookies. I forgot to count. Which is why I’m a fake food blogger and not a real one. You get what you pay for, people. 

If you’re a fan of peanut butter cookies, this is a nice, simple recipe for them. But if you don’t like them? Like I don’t like them? This ain’t gonna change your mind. Go find yourself a nice, simple chocolate chip cookie recipe to settle down with. 

Adventures in Peanut Butter, or How I Made 6 Million Cookies

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Homemade Peanut Butter. Subtitle: Why I am moron [sic]

I made homemade peanut butter today. What did you do today, Felix Baumgartner? 

No. I didn’t ask about yesterday, I asked about today. I WIN. YOU LOSE. 

I took today and tomorrow off, so I’ve been cleaning, making bacon, egg and gouda sandwiches (…you fancy, huh?) and watching Doctor Who on DVD.

I also have a fake food project I’m working towards. Someone asked me to make peanut butter cookies, so make them I shall. Peanut butter cookies aren’t my favorite, but I found a recipe that my Gramma gave me. So, it’s on. 

And why not make the peanut butter cookie process a lot more difficult and time consuming by making the peanut butter yourself! Like a dbag! 

Honestly? I decided to make this homemade peanut butter so I could justify buying myself a full-size food processor. I’ve had a mini one up until now, but unless you’re making a tiny marinade for like…one chicken wing, it’s not really that useful of a tool. 

So, I found a recipe for Alton Brown’s homemade peanut butter on foodnetwork.com. And this is where the trouble started. 

First thing, I could NOT find peanuts in their shells anywhere. George Washington Carver, the inventor of the peanut, wept in his grave. (I also could not find a joke that works…but whatever.) Went to Whole Foods. Went to Fresh Market. Found other nuts in their shells, but no peanuts. 

I settled on unsalted, blanched peanuts, because they already had their skins removed. But I tasted them and they taste like unsalted, blanched cardboard. I had to fix this or I would have spent $12 on peanuts that I would have brought home from the store and then more than likely thrown in the garbage. 

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I decided to roast the peanuts at 375 for about 15 minutes with a generous sprinkling of salt, which kind of does the trick. 

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A helpful hint: When you go to take a picture of something you pulled out of the oven, don’t grab it with your bare hands. Like I did. Who do you think you are, the husband in a Frigidaire commercial? (Callback machine!) 

Anyways. Now, here’s the rest of the recipe, minus the roasting fiasco. 

Ingredients: 

  • 15 oz. of roasted peanuts, shelled and skinned
  • 1 tsp of kosher salt
  • 1 ½ tsp of honey
  • 1 ½ TB of peanut oil 

Combine peanuts, salt and honey in your food processor and process for one minute. 

And process for one minute.

…And process for one minute.

….Why won’t this damn thing turn on.

I tried a different outlet. I tried a different outlet in a different room. And then I got angry. And went upstairs and put on regular human clothes (please note, I was doing this at 5 pm) so I could leave the house and speak to people and return the broken food processor. I threw all the peanuts away, washed the food processor bowl, when my friend Katie responds to my curse-laden text about the food processor with “did you have the lid on right?” 

…No… No, I did not.

After my large slice of humble pie, I roasted a new set of peanuts and processed.

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The smell of the freshly processed nuts had almost a coffee aroma to them. I had to add a bit more peanut oil than the recipe called for to get the peanut butter smooth, almost another 2 tablespoons

The results are tasty, but not the most spreadable. In his recipe, Alton Brown notes that for making peanut butter, one should use Spanish peanuts because they have a higher oil content. I don’t think I had Spanish peanuts because the texture of this peanut butter isn’t quite right. 

Jif would definitely win a beauty pageant and this peanut butter would get Miss Congeniality. (She sure is trying hard!) But there’s a really good roasted flavor with a background of saltiness. And it’s not overly sweet, which I think is nice. Not sure if I’ll bake the cookies with it yet. Maybe I’ll make one batch with it and one batch with the Jif, just to see how it turns out.

Felix Baumgartner makes history. I make peanut butter. He may have the upper hand, but mine tastes better.

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