June 24, 2015
It’s no surprise that Milk Bar has amassed an international cult following since opening its first location in NYC’s East Village back in 2008. Where else can you find cornflake-chocolate-chip-marshmallow cookies, sinfully sweet cereal milk™, crack pie® (a legitimately addictive confection made with a toasted oat crust and gooey butter filling) and salted pretzel party cake all created by Milk Bar’s own Christina Tosi? She’s also collaborated on a fashionably wholesome baked goods line with supermodel Karlie Kloss.
So imagine the sugar high that swept over us when we found out that Christina had created three ready-to-bake cookie mixes exclusively for Target and released a brand new cookbook (her second!), "Milk Bar Life." A Bullseye View had the chance to chat with the Milk Bar founder about her recipes, tips and lessons learned. Read on!
What inspires your recipe creation?
I draw inspiration from all over! From a pizza place to a magazine article to my mom's beat-up index card recipe catalog in her kitchen in Virginia. Open mindedness is the key to the creative process.
How can guests “hack” your Milk Bar at-home mixes to make them taste quintessentially Milk Bar?
I love kneading fun mix-ins into any type of cookie dough. Let the flavor of the cookie dough guide you to what will make the best, most crave-worthy flavor combos. Some of my favorite mix-ins are: pretzels, jams, marshmallows, dried fruits, ground tea, ground coffee, Ovaltine malt mix, cereal, candy, coconut, spices (cinnamon) and citrus zest. There are no rules. Being fearless and confident in the kitchen is the Milk Bar way!
What are some of the recipes in the book that are best for the uninitiated?
"Milk Bar Life" is meant to be a retreat to simplicity and show off the hilarity of life through food. The Ritz cracker icebox cake is easily the most beginner-friendly dessert recipe. It takes little technique and finesse to get it right, and it's incredibly versatile. For those with a little more time in the kitchen, I’m all about the Fruity-Pebble Meringues with Passion Fruit Curd. They'll win over any crowd with their down-home Fruity Pebbles, elegant meringue and delicious passion fruit curd!
What was the most exciting part about recipe testing for "Milk Bar Life?"
"Milk Bar Life" is all about the inspiration that fuels us in the kitchen at Milk Bar and beyond. It’s about what drives us to celebrate the down home and the ordinary with a sense of wonder and adventure and work ethic. You can communicate so much through food. My hope is that our stories, our antics and our recipes inspire others to think about the way they approach anything and everything in life, and find the fun, silly, goofy and truth in it all!
Has a recipe ever failed you before?
We have plenty of failures in our recipe testing and innovation sessions. It's usually less the flavor combos and more the technique and delivery of the idea. I think my biggest heartbreak was when I just couldn't get an American cheesecake/pie with a saltine cracker crust and green tomato sorbet to work out in my favor!
Do you have any baking tips?
One of the secrets to successful cookie baking is knowing when to take the cookies out of the oven. Use your eyes, ears, mouth and nose! Every oven is different.
Rotate your cookies from top to bottom racks and front of oven to back of oven to ensure consistency.
All cookies taste best the day they’re baked. Make your dough in advance and bake the day you’re going to share or serve.
Choose an airtight container or cookie tin, stick a slice of sandwich bread in the container and keep it at room temperature. It will keep the cookies fresh for up to five days. I learned this trick from my grandma!
To give you a taste of the creativity baked into each of Christina’s recipes, we’re sharing one of our "Milk Bar Life" favorites below:
Recipes reprinted from MILK BAR LIFE: Recipes and Stories Copyright © 2015 by Christina Tosi. Photos by Gabriele Stabile and Mark Ibold. Published by Clarkson Potter/Publishers, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC
Ready for more scrumptious recipes you can whip up at home? Check out Target Recipes by Cooking.com for inspiration.
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