As I've slowly convalesced this week, along with my returning health has come a growing compulsion to bake. Maybe it has something to do with my desire to console myself over the loss of my trip to Berlin, but I've been longingly looking through the Momofuku Milk Bar book this week planning my next cookie experiment. Initially, I was drawn to the Funfetti-inspired cookies, but then I realized that I could never bake such a cookie without being able to share it with my cousin Trista, the biggest Funfetti fan I know. Then I considered the decadent looking chocolate cookies, before ruling them out in favor of a chocolate birthday cake in the weeks to come. That left me with the Milk Bar version of peanut butter cookies in terms of recipes I could make using ingredients that I had on hand.
Initially, I had ruled out the peanut butter cookies since I already have a perfect recipe for them, handed down to me by my mother, who learned how to bake them in her 4-H group as a girl. I figured that even Christina Tosi would not be able to improve upon them, but as I was perusing my usual assortment of food blogs and food blog aggregator sites, I happened to come across a post someone else had written about Tosi's recipe. The blogger proclaimed them the greatest peanut butter cookies she had ever eaten, let alone baked herself, and I felt a sudden obligation to give them a try, if only to make sure I wasn't missing anything.
As with most of the Momofuku Milk Bar creations, I had to work through at least one nested recipe before I could get to the cookies themselves. In this case, at least there was only one, and it was for "peanut brittle," though that's not really the correct descriptive term to use. Tosi's "brittle" consists of little more than sugar and nuts, creating something that can only be used when ground up into a near-powder in the food processor, as the glass-like shards are too sharp and too hard to eat on their own, like a conventional peanut brittle. The logic behind this step, I believe, is that the tiny fragments of caramel and nuts melt into the cookies, producing a chewier end result with caramelized flavor overtones.
Though I am fairly comfortable with caramelizing sugar at this point in my cooking career, this step still irked me somewhat, as the cookie recipe only called for half of the "brittle" I was required to make, leaving me with a surplus that I have no idea what to do with. I would have just made half as much "brittle," but it is notoriously difficult to caramelize small amounts of sugar evenly. I could maybe turn it into an ice cream mix-in, or else I'm going to have to make more cookies.
Not that that would be the worst thing in the world, mind you. The
cookies, like the corn cookies, turned out very well. As promised, they
were delightfully chewy in the center, whereas my usual go-to peanut
butter cookie is more crumbly. They were also a huge hit at the office
among my coworkers who have yet to sample the joys of my standard
recipe. For me, however, these cookies just didn't quite measure up. I
still prefer the texture, flavor, and the ease of preparation of my
usual peanut butter cookies, even though I'm usually "team chewy" when
it comes to cookies.
I'm glad I gave Tosi's cookies a shot, even
if they didn't beat out my heirloom recipe, and I'm even more glad to
have scratched another Milk Bar recipe off my to-do list so that Justin
can get the book back to the library. I'm not sure why this book has
captured my imagination in such a palpable way, but I simply can't rest
until I've tried every delicious-looking cookie in there!