It’s common knowledge that any tale can be significantly improved by replacing the second line with “and then the murders began.” Children’s books, religious texts, academic journals, the Constitution – you name it. In the kitchen, however, I find that it’s less about murders and more about freshly baked bread. The beginning of every end.
It was Easter Sunday. And then the honey yeast rolls began. Not the typical start to your conventional horror story, but so it was. My favorite culinary companion Mike, who you may remember oh so fondly from the Magic Mike Bar escapade, brilliantly recommended that we whip up Easter dinner, setting the wheels in motion for a small feast once my grandmother’s GLORY apron assumed its rightful and customary place around his neck. What happened next was pure and utter decadence. There were roast chickens, there were bacon wrapped green bean bushels drizzled with bacon vinaigrette, there was a Smitten Kitchen inspired root vegetable gratin swimming in Gruyere, cream and breadcrumbs, there was a salad (our only saving grace), I may recall a roasted carrot or two, there was buttermilk pound cake strawberry shortcake with buttermilk whipped cream and there were homemade honey yeast rolls with honey butter that I would’ve woven into a quilt and slept under for the rest of my days if that was a thing that humans could do. It was beautiful and overly indulgent and the company was outstanding and afterward? Afterward came with well-earned belly aching and the need for a solid 7:00pm nap.
The next day, I realized the impossible had happened: I’d hit my carbohydrate threshold. I truly didn’t believe that it was possible. My sweet tooth has proven itself fierce and persistent even in the face of its toughest adversaries (such as 5 forewarning years of cardiac ICU experience), but the yeast rolls pushed me over the edge. So I did what had to be done and a few days later launched myself into the Whole30, a month of clean eating designed to re-calibrate sugar cravings among a few other tenants. I won’t bore you with the details – they make it sound like I joined a cult and believe in things like detoxes and cleanses, which I don’t. That’s what your liver and kidneys are for. Instead, I’ll summarize by saying that it’s been an eye opening 27 days so far, I’m tired of eggs and I feel better than I have in a long, long time, which, to be honest, I’m finding to be a double edged sword since I would have been elated to prove that removing so many delicious things from my diet made zero difference in how I felt. But such is not the case and that is not why I’m telling you this story. I’m telling you this story so you can be impressed with and in awe of my iron clad self-control in the face of unparalleled odds. Please, take a moment and go ahead and get out your Nobel Prize nomination forms.
Two weeks ago Mike returned for a final dinner, his relocation to Seattle looming before us. Whole30 or not, dinner without dessert for a farewell event would have been downright sacrilegious. Taking to Momofuku’s masterpiece of a cookbook Momofuku Milk Bar, we settled on Compost Cookies. Sounds like something you might find and avoid at a Berkeley co-op, but don’t be fooled: the real thing is the ultimate mix of potato chips, pretzels, graham crackers, butterscotch, chocolate chips, dry coffee grounds and oats amidst a buttery slurry of bread flour and brown sugar. Dinner came and went, a bowl of righteous seasonal berries serving as a temporary dessert placeholder as the dough chilled overnight. And then came breakfast cookies.
I cannot vouch for how they taste (ahem…that’s Blair Turner, Nobel Prize candidate, Self-Restraint and Temporary Moral High Ground category), but I don’t think my kitchen has ever smelled better. The drafts of toffee and butter made their way onto the patio and spilled out into the street. It was unbelievable. Mike and my husband tore through a stack the next morning while I covertly slipped a few into a Ziploc and stashed it in the freezer. Let me repeat: all of this and I did not taste even a single crumb. I know what you’re thinking and I couldn’t agree more: I’m basically Mother Theresa.
Tuesday marks the last day of Whole30. I don’t expect those that I salvaged to survive Wednesday and I can already feel Melissa Hartwig’s disappointment and judgment. Oh well. I can’t really be bothered. After all, I have a yeast roll quilt to make.
Momofuku’s Compost Cookies
- 16 Tbsp salted butter, softened at room temperature
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 2/3 cup light brown sugar
- 2 tsp glucose*
- 1 egg
- ½ tsp vanilla
- 1 1/3 cup bread flour
- ½ tsp baking powder
- ¼ tsp baking soda
- 1 tsp kosher salt
- ¾ cup chocolate chips
- ½ cup butterscotch chils
- ½ cup crumbled graham crust*
- 1 ½ cups graham cracker crumbs
- ¼ cup milk powder
- 2 Tbsp sugar
- ¾ tsp kosher
- 4 Tbsp better, melted
- ¼ cup heavy cream
- 1/3 cup rolled oats
- 2 ½ tsp ground coffee (dry)
- 2 cups potato chips*
- 1 cup mini pretzels, salted
- In a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, cream together butter, sugars and glucose for 2-3 minutes.
- Add egg and vanilla and beat for 7-8 minutes.*
- Reduce speed to low and add flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Mix until just combined, ~1 minute.
- Add chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, graham crackers, oats and coffee and mix on low speed until just combined, ~30 seconds.
- Add the potato chips and pretzel and mix on low speed. The goal is not to pummel these ingredients, but to have large chunks at the end.
- Refrigerate the dough for at least an hour, preferably overnight. Momofuko recommends chilling with the dough already rolled into individual cookies, but I don’t tend to have room in the fridge for this.
- Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper or Silpat.
- If you have not done so already, portion out the dough into 1/3 cup scoops. A large ice cream scoop works well for this step. Arrange the chilled dough at least 4 inches apart and pat the top of the domes flat.
- Bake for 18 minutes. At their peak they should be every so slight browned around the edges and yellow in the center.
- Cool completely on the sheet pans.
- No glucose? You can substitute 1 Tbsp corn syrup. Glucose syrup is available at specialty food stores or Amazon (and, not surprisingly, is sold in a small bucket) and serves to keep the center of the cookie chewy while the edges crisp: the cookie Holy Grail.
- Think thick, salted, higher quality potato chips. Not the wimpy ones that will crumble on impact.
- Yes, seriously. It will feel like forever, but will not be regretted.
- If you’re feeling impatient, add 1 ¾ cups graham cracker crumbs with some the heavy cream in a pinch.
- Alterations: play around with mini and regular sized chips, toffee, dark and semi-sweet chocolate. These cookies are your oyster!