As much as I haven't been inspired by cake baking lately, I haven't been able to get cookies off my mind lately -- specifically the cookies from Momofuku Milk Bar. I keep justifying my preoccupation to myself with the thought that I need to work through the book so that we can return it to the library, or in case somebody puts a hold on it and we have to return it, but in reality, I think the book has just awakened my dormant obsession with cookies.
For example, all I wanted to do last week was bake Tosi's Cornflake-Chocolate-Chip-Marshmallow Cookies, but I was just too busy. I needed at least two consecutive evenings at home to make them - one to make the cornflake crunch and the cookie dough, and another to refrigerate the dough overnight and bake them the next day. Between a doctor's appointment on Monday night, going to the theater on Wednesday, and being at the office until 9:15 on Friday for an all-day meeting and dinner, there was just no time to dedicate to baking until the weekend, and I finally got the chance to make my cookie dreams a reality.
I was intrigued by this recipe, not only because of the drool-worthy photo in the book of a pair of hands tearing apart a gooey, melty cookie, but because I've not encountered a cookie recipe before that calls for adding marshmallows directly into the dough. According to what I've read, adding marshmallows too early results in them melting into the dough and disappearing, so most cookies that feature them call for pressing marshmallows into the surface of the cookies midway through the baking process. When I have baked with marshmallows myself, that is the technique I have followed as well, so I was curious to see whether Tosi's novel idea would pan out.
I must confess, however, I was a little intimidated by these cookies at the same time, not because they seemed especially difficult, but because the reviews I'd read of the recipe on other blogs were full of stories of disaster. The cookies spread too much, or they burned, or they cooked unevenly. My last two batches of Milk Bar cookies turned out perfectly, and I was sure to follow all the directions carefully, so I decided to roll the dice and see if my baking prowess could lead me to success where so many others had failed.
When I set out to start preparing the dough, I was faced with another one of Tosi's nested recipes, but the cornflake crunch was less labor intensive and dangerous than the peanut "brittle" had been, and even better, since I wasn't dealing with molten sugar, I was able to scale down the recipe to make only as much cornflake crunch as I needed so I wouldn't have to figure out what to do with leftovers. I was able to prepare and cool the cornflake crunch in the time it took my Plugra to soften to room temperature, so it hardly even seemed like that much of an extra effort.
The dough came together without incident, though I did vary slightly from Tosi's instructions by using regular chocolate chips instead of the mini-version she prefers for better distribution throughout the cookie, mainly because I'd already had to buy cornflakes, marshmallows, and powdered milk and I didn't want to have to invest in mini-chips too. I did, however, decide to add more chips than the recipe called for, since I had the remnants of an open bag hanging out on my cabinet and I wanted to finish it off. After finishing the dough and portioning it out to chill overnight, it would be 24 hours before I would discover if my change to the recipe would prove to be my downfall.
Today, when I pulled the cookies out of the oven, I could see that they were somewhat less attractive than the other Milk Bar cookies I've baked so far, but they were far from a disaster. The marshmallows had indeed melted, as I'd predicted, and the ones that were close to the sides of the cookies created pools of molten candy around the edges that caramelized and turned brown, which made the cookies look less uniformly round and perfect than usual. However, I didn't really mind the melted marshmallow puddles because their caramel flavor proved to be a welcome addition to the cookies.
I was also surprised that, despite sitting in the moist cookie dough overnight, the cornflakes retained their crispiness without getting soggy, and added an extra crunch factor to the cookies that contrasted with the chewiness of the melted candy. The extra chocolate chips didn't keep the cookies from sticking together, as I had feared, but I did notice that the cookie dough itself, while exceptionally buttery, was more crumbly and less chewy than the other two Milk Bar cookies I've experimented with. Though I generally prefer chewy cookies, I didn't really see the crumbly texture as a problem here.
So far, I would rank these cookies between the corn cookies and the peanut butter cookies in my emerging hierarchy of Milk Bar cookies. I still have three more that I want to bake from the book before I return it to the library, so we'll just have to wait and see where it falls in the final rankings...