birthday cake recipe

makes 1 (6-inch) layer cake, 5 to 6 inches tall. serves 8-12

once we got birthday cake crumbs down, we moved on to our larger quest of making a funfetti cake, canned frosting and all, from scratch. turns out that looking on the side of the cake mix box at the master ingredient list was really helpful in getting the “secret” stuff we couldn’t figure out by taste.

1 recipe birthday cake (recipe below)
1 recipe birthday cake soak (recipe below)
1 recipe birthday cake frosting (recipe below)
1 recipe birthday cake crumb (recipe below)

special equipment
1 (6-inch) cake ring
2 strips acetate, each 3 inches wide and 20 inches long

cake assembly instructions

1. put a piece of parchment or a silpat on the counter. invert the cake onto it and peel off the parchment or silpat from the bottom of the cake. use the cake ring to stamp out 2 circles from the cake. these are your top 2 cake layers. the remaining cake “scrap” will come together to make the bottom layer of the cake.

layer 1, the bottom
2. clean the cake ring and place it in the center of a sheet pan lined with clean parchment or a silpat. use 1 strip of acetate to line the inside of the cake ring.
3. put the cake scraps together inside the ring and use the back of your hand to tamp the scraps together into a flat even layer.
4. dunk a pastry brush in the birthday cake soak and give the layer of cake a good, healthy bath of half of the soak.
5. use the back of a spoon to spread one-fifth of the frosting in an even layer over the cake.
6. sprinkle one-third of the birthday crumbs evenly over the frosting. use the back of your hand to anchor them in place.
7. use the back of a spoon to spread a second fifth of the birthday cake frosting as evenly as possible over the crumbs.

layer 2, the middle
8. with your index finger, gently tuck the second strip of acetate between the cake ring and the top ¼ inch of the first strip of acetate, so that you have a clear ring of acetate 5 to 6 inches tall – high enough to support the height of the finished cake. set a cake round on top of the frosting, and repeat the process for layer 1 (if 1 of your 2 cake rounds is jankier than the other, use it here in the middle and save the prettier one for the top).

layer 3, the top
9. nestle the remaining cake round into the frosting. cover the top of the cake with the remaining frosting. give it volume and swirls, or do as we do and opt for a perfectly flat top. garnish the frosting with the remaining birthday crumbs.
10. transfer the sheet pan to the freezer and freeze for a minimum of 12 hours to set the cake and filling. the cake will keep in the freezer for up to 2 weeks.
11. at least 3 hours before you are ready to serve the cake, pull the sheet pan out of the freezer and, using your fingers and thumbs, pop the cake out of the cake ring. gently peel off the acetate, and transfer the cake to a platter or cake stand. let it defrost in the fridge for a minimum of 3 hours (wrapped well in plastic, the cake can be refrigerated for up to 5 days).
12. slice the cake into wedges and serve.

birthday cake

makes 1 quarter sheet pan

55 g butter, at room temperature (4 tablespoons, 1/2 stick)
60 g vegetable shortening (1/3 cup)
250 g granulated sugar (1 1/4 cups)
50 g light brown sugar (3 tablespoons, tightly packed)
3 eggs
110 g buttermilk (1/2 cup)
65 g grapeseed oil (1/3 cup)
8 g clear vanilla extract (2 teaspoons)
245 g cake flour (2 cups)
6 g baking powder (1 1/2 teaspoons)
3 g kosher salt (3/4 teaspoon)
50 g rainbow sprinkles (1/4 cup)
plus
25 g rainbow sprinkles (2 tablespoons)

1. heat the oven to 350°F.

2. combine the butter, shortening, and sugars in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and cream together on medium-high for 2 to 3 minutes. scrape down the sides of the bowl, add the eggs, and mix on medium-high for 2 to 3 minutes. scrape down the sides of the bowl once more.

3. on low speed, stream in the buttermilk, oil, and vanilla. increase the mixer speed to medium-high and paddle for 4 to 6 minutes, until the mixture is practically white, twice the size of your original fluffy butter-and-sugar mixture, and completely homogenous. don’t rush the process. you’re basically forcing too much liquid into an already fatty mixture that doesn’t want to make room for that liquid. there should be no streaks of fat or liquid. stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl.

4. on very low speed, add the cake flour, baking powder, salt, and the 50 g (¼ cup) rainbow sprinkles. mix for 45 to 60 seconds, just until your batter comes together. scrape down the sides of the bowl.

5. pam-spray a quarter sheet pan and line it with parchment, or just line the pan with a silpat. using a spatula, spread the cake batter in an even layer in the pan. sprinkle the remaining 25 g (2 tablespoons) rainbow sprinkles evenly on top of the batter.

6. bake the cake for 30 to 35 minutes. the cake will rise and puff, doubling in size, but will remain slightly buttery and dense. at 30 minutes, gently poke the edge of the cake with your finger: the cake should bounce back slightly and the center should no longer be jiggly. leave the cake in the oven for an extra 3 to 5 minutes if it doesn’t pass these tests.

7. take the cake out of the oven and cool on a wire rack or, in a pinch, in the fridge or freezer (don’t worry, it’s not cheating). the cooled cake can be stored in the fridge, wrapped in plastic wrap, for up to 5 days.

birthday cake soak

55 g milk (1/4 cup)
4 g clear vanilla extract (1 teaspoon)

whisk together the milk and vanilla in a small bowl.

vanilla extract
we use two different kinds of vanilla extract, brown patisse brand and clear mccormick brand. neither is of any fancy caliber, but we use these specific vanilla extracts on purpose because they are the flavor that most people relate to in their baked goods. vanilla beans and fancy vanilla paste do not taste like home to me, but commercial vanilla extract does.

we use brown (standard) vanilla extract in 90 percent of our baked goods. it’s the extract that flavors nearly every homemade chocolate chip cookie. we use clear mccormick vanilla extract for the birthday Cake, birthday cake crumb, and birthday cake frosting. it is vanilla in flavor, but not flavored by any actual vanilla beans. it’s “vanilla” in more of a guilty tub-of-frosting, box-cake way. the two are not interchangeable in recipes. both patisse brown extract and mccormick clear vanilla are available online.

birthday cake frosting

makes about 430 g (2 cups)

115 g butter, at room temperature (8 tablespoons or 1 stick)
50 g vegetable shortening (1/4 cup)
55 g cream cheese (2 ounces)
25 g glucose (1 tablespoon)
18 g corn syrup (1 tablespoon)
12 g clear vanilla extract (1 tablespoon)
200 g confectioners’ sugar (1 1/4 cups)
2 g kosher salt (1/2 teaspoon)
.25 g baking powder (pinch)
.25 g citric acid (pinch)

1. combine the butter, shortening, and cream cheese in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and cream together on medium-high for 2 to 3 minutes, until the mixture is smooth and fluffy. scrape down the sides of the bowl.

2. with the mixer on its lowest speed, stream in the glucose, corn syrup, and vanilla. crank the mixer up to medium-high and beat for 2 to 3 minutes, until the mixture is silky smooth and a glossy white. scrape down the sides of the bowl.

3. add the confectioners’ sugar, salt, baking powder, and citric acid and mix on low speed just to incorporate them into the batter. crank the speed back up to medium-high and beat for 2 to 3 minutes, until you have a brilliant stark white, beautifully smooth frosting. it should look just like it came out of a plastic tub at the grocery store! use the frosting immediately, or store it in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 1 week.

birthday cake crumb

makes about 275 g (2 ¼ cups)

100 g granulated sugar (1/2 cup)
25 g light brown sugar (1 1/2 tablespoons, tightly packed)
90 g cake flour (3/4 cup)
2 g baking powder (1/2 teaspoon)
2 g kosher salt (1/2 teaspoon)
20 g rainbow sprinkles (2 tablespoons)
40 g grapeseed oil (1/4 cup)
12 g clear vanilla extract (1 tablespoon)

1. heat the oven to 300°F.

2. combine the sugars, flour, baking powder, salt, and sprinkles in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and mix on low speed until well combined.

3. add the oil and vanilla and paddle again to distribute. the wet ingredients will act as glue to help the dry ingredients form small clusters; continue paddling until that happens.

4. Bake for 15 minutes at 300°F.

5. let the crumbs cool completely before using in a recipe or scarfing by the handful. stored in an airtight container, the crumbs will keep fresh for 1 week at room temperature or 1 month in the fridge or freezer.

b’day truffles recipe

makes about one dozen 1-ounce cake truffles

my favorite offering at milk bar is our cake truffles, spawned entirely from leftover bits and pieces of cake! you can choose to follow the recipe, or get crazy, without our guidance, using leftovers to concoct your own. don’t limit yourself to birthday cake; you can use any cake scrap and any leftover fillings, crumbs, or crunches from your kitchen!

the basics for cake truffles are as follows:

the base:
cake scraps, the fresher the better. we stick to one flavor of cake scraps at a time. (we use our birthday cake for the birthday cake truffles, recipe follows)

the binder:
this can be fruit juice, fruit puree, flavored milk or a moist filling, curd, or sauce. depending on the moistness of the cake base, we use more or less binder. we have recipes, but there is always a range for the binder. you can also choose to add in sprinkles, chips or any other textural element you want in the center of your cake truffle here. (we use vanilla scented milk—whole milk with a splash of vanilla extract—for our birthday cake truffles)

the shell:
to seal in freshness and flavor, we roll each truffle in melted white chocolate. the melted white chocolate also serves to glue the crunchy coat onto the outside.

availability of b’day truffles: all nyc stores, milk bar toronto, shipping, nyc reservations
the crunchy coat:
finely ground crumbs or crunches work best, but we’ve even been known to use toasted yellow cake mix. (we use birthday cake sand, ground into a sandy consistency for our birthday cake truffles)

1 recipe birthday cake (recipe below)
2-4 tablespoons vanilla milk (recipe below)
3 ounces white chocolate, melted
1 cup birthday cake sand (recipe below)

assembly instructions

1. combine the cake scraps and vanilla milk in a medium sized bowl and toss with your hands until moist enough to knead into a ball. if it is not moist enough to do so, add up to 2 tablespoons more vanilla milk and knead it in.

2. using a small ice cream scoop, portion out 12 even balls, each half the size of a ping-pong ball. roll each one between the palms of your hands to shape and smooth it into a round sphere.

3. with latex gloves on, put 2 tablespoons of the white chocolate in the palm of your hand and roll each ball between your palms, coating it in a thin layer of melted chocolate; add more chocolate as needed.

4. put 3 or 4 chocolate-covered balls at a time into the bowl of birthday cake sand. immediately toss them with the crumbs to coat, before the chocolate shell sets and no longer acts as a glue (if this happens, just coat the ball in another thin layer of melted chocolate).

5. refrigerate for at least 5 minutes to fully set the chocolate shells before eating or storing. in an airtight container, the truffles will keep for up to 1 week in the fridge.

birthday cake

makes 1 quarter sheet pan

4 tablespoons (1/2 stick) unsalted butt, at room temperature
1/3 cup vegetable shortening
1 1/4 cups granulated sugar
3 tablespoons light brown sugar, tightly packed
3 eggs
1/2 cup buttermilk
1/3 cup grapeseed oil
2 teaspoons clear vanilla extract
2 cups cake flour
1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/3 cup rainbow sprinkles

1. heat the oven to 350°F.

2. combine the butter, shortening, and sugars in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and cream together on medium-high for 2 to 3 minutes. scrape down the sides of the bowl, add the eggs, and mix on medium-high for 2 to 3 minutes. scrape down the sides of the bowl once more.

3. on low speed, stream in the buttermilk, oil, and vanilla. increase the mixer speed to medium-high and paddle for 4 to 6 minutes, until the mixture is practically white, twice the size of your original fluffy butter-and-sugar mixture, and completely homogenous. don’t rush the process. you’re basically forcing too much liquid into an already fatty mixture that doesn’t want to make room for that liquid. there should be no streaks of fat or liquid. stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl.

4. on very low speed, add the cake flour, baking powder, salt, and the 50 g (¼ cup) rainbow sprinkles. mix for 45 to 60 seconds, just until your batter comes together. scrape down the sides of the bowl.

5. pam-spray a quarter sheet pan and line it with parchment, or just line the pan with a silpat. using a spatula, spread the cake batter in an even layer in the pan. sprinkle the remaining 25 g (2 tablespoons) rainbow sprinkles evenly on top of the batter.

6. bake the cake for 30 to 35 minutes. the cake will rise and puff, doubling in size, but will remain slightly buttery and dense. at 30 minutes, gently poke the edge of the cake with your finger: the cake should bounce back slightly and the center should no longer be jiggly. leave the cake in the oven for an extra 3 to 5 minutes if it doesn’t pass these tests.

7. take the cake out of the oven and cool on a wire rack or, in a pinch, in the fridge or freezer (don’t worry, it’s not cheating). the cooled cake can be stored in the fridge, wrapped in plastic wrap, for up to 5 days.

vanilla milk

1/4 cup milk
1 teaspoon clear vanilla extract

whisk together the milk and vanilla in a small bowl.

birthday sand

1/4 cup granulated sugar
1 tablespoon light brown sugar, tightly packed
2/3 cup cake flour
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1 tablespoon rainbow sprinkles
1 tablespoon grapeseed oil
1 teaspoon clear vanilla extract

1. heat the oven to 300°F.

2. combine the sugars, flour, baking powder, salt, and sprinkles in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and mix on low speed until well combined.

3. add the oil and vanilla and paddle again to distribute. the wet ingredients will act as glue to help the dry ingredients form small sandy clusters; continue paddling until that happens.

4. bake for 15 minutes

5. let the crumbs cool completely before using. grind down in a food processor if the crumbs are not small and sandy enough (they will not glue to the white chocolate coating in the birthday cake truffle recipe!) stored in an airtight container, the sand will keep fresh for 1 week at room temperature or 1 month in the fridge or freezer.

our cookies are available at: all nyc stores, milk bar toronto, shipping, nyc reservations

compost cookie® recipe

makes 15 to 20 cookies

when i was a baker at a conference center on star island, twelve miles off the coast of new hampshire, i learned to make this kind of cookie from one of the best bakers i know, mandy lamb. she would put different ingredients in the cookie each day or each week and have people try and guess what the random secret ingredients were. because we were on an island in new england, when storms blew in, we were trapped. no one traveled to the island, and, more important, no boats with food on them came our way, either. we had to get creative and use what we had on hand. we might not have had enough chocolate chips to make chocolate chip cookies, but if we threw in other mix-ins as well, the seven hundred some guests would never notice the shortage of one ingredient—and the cookies would always feel brand new, because they were different every time. i found after many batches that my favorite compost cookies® had my favorite snacks in them: chocolate and butterscotch chips, potato chips, pretzels, graham crackers, and coffee (grounds).

compost cookies® always turn out great in my mother’s kitchen because she infamously has a hodgepodge of mix-ins, none in great enough quantity to make an actual single-flavored cookie on its own. my brother-in-law calls them “garbage cookies”; others call them “kitchen sink cookies.” call them what you want, and make them as we make them at milk bar, or add your own favorite snacks to the cookie base in place of ours.

225 g (16 tablespoons) butter, at room temperature
200 g (1 cup) granulated sugar
150 g (2⁄3 cup tightly packed) light brown sugar
50 g (2 tbs) glucose
1 egg
2 g (1/2 tsp) vanilla extract
225 g (1 1⁄3 cups) flour
2 g (1/2 tsp) baking powder
1.5 g (1/4 tsp) baking soda
4 g (1 tsp) kosher salt
150 g (3/4 cup) mini chocolate chips
100 g (1/2 cup) mini butterscotch chips
1/4 recipe (1/2 cup) graham crust (recipe below)
40 g (1⁄3 cup) old-fashioned rolled oats
5 g (2 1/2 tsp) ground coffee
50 g (2 cups) potato chips
50 g (1 cup) mini pretzels

1. combine the butter, sugars, and glucose in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and cream together on medium-high for 2 to 3 minutes. scrape down the sides of the bowl, add the egg and vanilla, and beat for 7 to 8 minutes. (see page 27 for notes on this process.)

2. reduce the speed to low and add the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. mix just until the dough comes together, no longer than 1 minute. (do not walk away from the machine during this step, or you will risk over mixing the dough.) scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula.

3. still on low speed, add the chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, graham crust, oats, and coffee and mix just until incorporated, about 30 seconds. add the potato chips and pretzels and paddle, still on low speed, until just incorporated. be careful not to over mix or break too many of the pretzels or potato chips. you deserve a pat on the back if one of your cookies bakes off with a whole pretzel standing up in the center.

4. using a 2 3/4 oz ice cream scoop (or a 1/3 cup measure), portion out the dough onto a parchment-lined sheet pan. pat the tops of the cookie dough domes flat. wrap the sheet pan tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, or up to 1 week. do not bake your cookies from room temperature— they will not bake properly.

5. heat the oven to 375°f.

6. arrange the chilled dough a minimum of 4 inches apart on parchment- or silpat-lined sheet pans. bake for 18 minutes. the cookies will puff, crackle, and spread. after 18 minutes, they should be very faintly browned on the edges yet still bright yellow in the center. give them an extra minute or so if that’s not the case.

7. cool the cookies completely on the sheet pans before transferring to a plate or an airtight container for storage. at room temp, cookies will keep fresh for 5 days; in the freezer, they will keep for 1 month.

in a pinch, substitute 18 g (1 tablespoon) corn syrup for the glucose. for the “coffee grounds” in this cookie, we tested the recipe with freshly roasted and ground artisanal coffee from stumptown as well as with crap-tastic coffee grounds that you can find just about anywhere. we discovered that it doesn’t make a difference what kind you use; the cookie is delicious every time. just make sure you don’t use instant coffee; it will dissolve in the baking process and ruin the cookies. and, above all else, never use wet, sogalicious grounds that have already brewed a pot of coffee. we use cape cod potato chips because they aren’t paper-thin, and so they do not break down too much in the mixing process.

graham crust

makes about 340 g (2 cups)

190 g (1 1/2 cups) graham cracker crumbs
20 g (1/4 cup) milk powder
25 g (2 tbs) sugar
3 g (3/4 tsp) kosher salt
55 g (4 tbs) butter, melted, or as needed
55 g (1/4 cup) heavy cream

1. toss the graham crumbs, milk powder, sugar, and salt with your hands in a medium bowl to evenly distribute your dry ingredients.

2. whisk the butter and heavy cream together. add to the dry ingredients and toss again to evenly distribute. the butter will act as glue, adhering to the dry ingredients and turning the mixture into a bunch of small clusters. the mixture should hold its shape if squeezed tightly in the palm of your hand. if it is not moist enough to do so, melt an additional 14 to 25 g (1 to 1½ table- spoons) butter and mix it in.

3. eat immediately, or deploy as directed in a recipe. the crust is easiest to mold just after mixing. stored in an airtight container, graham crust will keep fresh for 1 week at room temperature or for 1 month in the fridge or freezer.

cereal milk™ recipe

makes 2 and 1/2 cups, serves 4

100 g (2 3/4 cups) cornflakes
825 g (3 3/4 cups) cold milk
30 g (2 tbs tightly packed) light brown sugar
1 g (1/4 tsp) kosher salt

1. heat the oven to 300°f.

2. spread the cornflakes on a parchment-lined sheet pan. bake for 15 minutes, until lightly toasted. cool completely. toasting the cornflakes before steeping them deepens the flavor of the milk. taste your cereal milk™ after you make it. if you want it a little sweeter, don’t be shy; add a little more brown sugar. if you want a more mellow cereal milk™, add a splash of fresh milk and a pinch of salt.

3. transfer the cooled cornflakes to a large pitcher. pour the milk into the pitcher and stir vigorously. let steep for 20 minutes at room temperature.

cereal milk is available at: all nyc stores.
or you can purchase our cereal milk mix from: milk bar toronto, shipping, nyc reservations
4. strain the mixture through a fine-mesh sieve, collecting the milk in a medium bowl. the milk will drain off quickly at first, then become thicker and starchy toward the end of the straining process. using the back of a ladle (or your hand), wring the milk out of the cornflakes, but do not force the mushy cornflakes through the sieve.

5. whisk the brown sugar and salt into the milk until fully dissolved. store in a clean pitcher or glass milk jug, refrigerated, for up to 1 week.

crack pie® recipe

makes 2 (10-inch) pies; each serves 8 to 10

this recipe makes two pies (two pies are always better than one), but you can always keep the second pie frozen if need be!

1 recipe oat cookie (recipe follows)
15 g (1 tbs tightly packed) light brown sugar
1 g (1/4 tsp) salt
55 g (4 tbs) butter, melted, or as needed
1 recipe crack pie® filling (recipe follows)
confectioners’ sugar, for dusting

1. heat the oven to 350°f.

2. put the oat cookie, brown sugar, and salt in a food processor and pulse it on and off until the cookie is broken down into a wet sand. (if you don’t have a food processor, you can fake it till you make it and crumble the oat cookie diligently with your hands.)

3. transfer the crumbs to a bowl, add the butter, and knead the butter and ground cookie mixture until moist enough to form into a ball. if it is not moist enough to do so, melt an additional 14 to 25 g (1 to 1½ tablespoons) butter and knead it in.

4. divide the oat crust evenly between 2 (10-inch) pie tins. using your fingers and the palms of your hands, press the oat cookie crust firmly into each pie tin, making sure the bottom and sides of the tin are evenly covered. use the pie shells immediately, or wrap well in plastic and store at room temperature for up to 5 days or in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.

5. put both pie shells on a sheet pan. divide the crack pie® filling evenly between the crusts; the filling should fill them three-quarters of the way full. bake for 15 minutes only. the pies should be golden brown on top but will still be very jiggly.

6. open the oven door and reduce the oven temperature to 325°f. depending on your oven, it may take 5 minutes or longer for the oven to cool to the new temperature. keep the pies in the oven during this process. when the oven reaches 325°f, close the door and bake the pies for 5 minutes longer. the pies should still be jiggly in the bull’s-eye center but not around the outer edges. if the filling is still too jiggly, leave the pies in the oven for an additional 5 minutes or so.

7. gently take the pan of crack pies® out of the oven and transfer to a rack to cool to room temperature. (you can speed up the cooling process by carefully transferring the pies to the fridge or freezer if you’re in a hurry.) then freeze your pies for at least 3 hours, or overnight, to condense the filling for a dense final product—freezing is the signature technique and result of a perfectly executed crack pie®.

8. if not serving the pies right away, wrap well in plastic wrap. in the fridge, they will keep fresh for 5 days; in the freezer, they will keep for 1 month. transfer the pie(s) from the freezer to the refrigerator to defrost a minimum of 1 hour before you’re ready to get in there.

9. serve your crack pie® cold! decorate your pie(s) with confectioners’ sugar, either passing it through a fine sieve or dispatching pinches with your fingers.

oat cookie recipe

makes about 1 quarter sheet pan

115 g (8 tbs) butter, at room temperature
75 g (1/3 cup tightly packed) light brown sugar
40 g (3 tbs) granulated sugar
1 egg yolk
80 g (1/2 cup) flour
120 g (1 1/2 cups) old-fashioned rolled oats
0.5 g (1/8 tsp) baking powder
0.25 g (pinch) baking soda
2 g (1/2 tsp) kosher salt
pam or other nonstick cooking spray (optional)

1. heat the oven to 350°f.

2. combine the butter and sugars in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and cream together on medium-high for 2 to 3 minutes, until fluffy and pale yellow in color. scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula. on low speed, add the egg yolk and increase the speed to medium­ high and beat for 1 to 2 minutes, until the sugar granules fully dissolve and the mixture is a pale white.

3. on low speed, add the flour, oats, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. mix for a minute, until your dough comes together and any remnants of dry ingredients have been incorporated. the dough will be a slightly fluffy, fatty mixture in comparison to your average cookie dough. scrape down the sides of the bowl.

4. pam-spray a quarter sheet pan and line with parchment, or just line the pan with a silpat. plop the cookie dough in the center of the pan and, with a spatula, spread it out until it is 1/4 inch thick. the dough won’t end up covering the entire pan; this is ok.

5. bake for 15 minutes, or until it resembles an oatmeal cookie-caramelized on top and puffed slightly but set firmly. cool completely before using. wrapped well in plastic, the oat cookie will keep fresh in the fridge for up to 1 week.

crack pie® filling

makes enough for 2 (10-inch) crack pies®

you must use a stand mixer with a paddle attachment to make this filling. it only takes a minute, but it makes all the difference in the homogenization and smooth, silky final product. i repeat: a hand whisk and a bowl or a granny hand mixer will not produce the same results. also, keep the mixer on low speed through the entire mixing process. if you try to mix the filling on higher speed, you will incorporate too much air and your pie will not be dense and gooey-the essence of crack pie®.

300 g (1 1/2 cups) granulated sugar
180 g (3/4 cup tightly packed) light brown sugar
20 g (1/4 cup) milk powder
24 g (1/4 cup) corn powder
6 g (1 1/2 tsp) kosher salt
225 g (16 tbs) butter, melted
160 g (3/4 cup) heavy cream
2 g (1/2 tsp) vanilla extract
8 egg yolks**

1. combine the sugar, brown sugar, milk powder, corn powder, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and mix on low speed until evenly blended.

2. add the melted butter and paddle for 2 to 3 minutes until all the dry ingredients are moist.

3. add the heavy cream and vanilla and continue mixing on low for 2 to 3 minutes until any white streaks from the cream have completely disap­peared into the mixture. scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula.

4. add the egg yolks, paddling them into the mixture just to combine; be careful not to aerate the mixture, but be certain the mixture is glossy and homogenous. mix on low speed until it is.

5. use the filling right away, or store it in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 1 week.

**note: it will be the death of your wildly dense pie filling if there is any bit of egg white in the mixture. i believe the easiest, and best, way to separate an egg is to do so in your hands. you may also use the two half-shells to separate the eggs, but the cracked shells can tear the yolk open, and you may not totally separate all the white. if you do this by hand,you can feel when you get every last bit of white away from the yolk. remember to wash your hands under warm soapy water for 30 seconds or more before and after you handle raw eggs! save your egg whites for peanut butter nougat or pistachio cake, or cook them up for your doggies, for a shinier coat.

chocolate malt cake recipe

makes 1 (6-inch) layer cake, 5 to 6 inches tall. serves 8-12

½ recipe malted milk crumb (recipe below)
1 recipe chocolate cake (recipe below)
1 recipe malt fudge sauce, warm (recipe below)
1 recipe ovaltine soak (recipe below)
1 recipe charred marshmallows (recipe below)

special equipment
1 (6-inch) cake ring
2 strips acetate, each 3 inches wide and 20 inches long

this cake is available at: shipping, nyc reservations

cake assembly instructions

1. put a piece of parchment or a silpat on the counter. invert the cake onto it and peel off the parchment or silpat from the bottom of the cake. use the cake ring to stamp out 2 circles from the cake. these are your top 2 cake layers. the remaining cake “scrap” will come together to make the bottom layer of the cake.

layer 1, the bottom

2. clean the cake ring and place it in the center of a sheet pan lined with clean parchment or a silpat. use 1 strip of acetate to line the inside of the cake ring.

3. put the cake scraps together inside the ring and use the back of your hand to tamp the scraps together into a flat even layer.

4. dunk a pastry brush in the ovaltine soak and give the layer of cake a good, healthy bath of half of the oil.

5. use the back of a spoon to spread one-fifth of the malt fudge sauce in an even layer over the cake. (helpful hint: the warmer the fudge sauce, the easier it is to spread.)

6. sprinkle one-third of the malted milk crumbs and one-third of the charred marshmallows evenly over the malt fudge sauce. use the back of your hand to anchor them in place.

7. use the back of a spoon to spread another fifth of the malt fudge sauce as evenly as possible over the crumbs and marshmallows.

layer 2, the middle

8. with your index finger, gently tuck the second strip of acetate between the cake ring and the top ¼ inch of the first strip of acetate, so that you have a clear ring of acetate 5 to 6 inches tall – high enough to support the height of the finished cake. set a cake round on top of the frosting, and repeat the process for layer 1 (if 1 of your 2 cake rounds is jankier than the other, use it here in the middle and save the prettier one for the top).

layer 3, the top

9. nestle the remaining cake round into the fudge. cover the top of the cake with the remaining fudge sauce. since it’s a sauce, not a frosting, here you have no choice to make a shiny, perfectly flat top. garnish with the remaining charred marshmallows.

10. transfer the sheet pan to the freezer and freeze for a minimum of 12 hours to set the cake and filling. the cake will keep in the freezer for up to 2 weeks.

11. at least 3 hours before you are ready to serve the cake, pull the sheet pan out of the freezer and, using your fingers and thumbs, pop the cake out of the cake ring. gently peel off the acetate, and transfer the cake to a platter or cake stand. let it defrost in the fridge for a minimum of 3 hours (wrapped well in plastic, the cake can be refrigerated for up to 5 days).

12. slice the cake into wedges and serve.

malted milk crumb

makes about 375g (2 ½ cups)

1 recipe milk crumb (recipe below)
60g (¾ cup) ovaltine, malt flavor
90g (3 oz) white chocolate, melted

1. toss the milk crumbs with the ovaltine malt powder in a medium bowl until all of the crumbs are a light brown.

2. pour the white chocolate over the crumbs and continue tossing until all of the cluisters are enrobed. then continue tossing them every 5 minutes until the white chocolate hardens and the clusters are no longer sticky. (the result will be just like the original milk crumb, but with a cheetah-like spotting of light brown malt powder.) the crumbs will keep in an airtight container in the fridge or freezer for up to 1 month.

milk crumb

makes about 260g (2 ¼ cups)

40g (½ cup) milk powder
40g (½ cup) flour
12g (2 tbs) cornstarch
25g (2 tbs) sugar
2g (½ tsp) kosher salt
55g (4 tbs [½ stick]) butter, melted
20g (¼ cup) milk powder
90g (3 oz) white chocolate, melted

1. heat the oven to 250°f.

2. combine the 40 g (½ cup) milk powder, the flour, cornstarch, sugar, and salt in a medium bowl. toss with your hands to mix. add the melted butter and toss, using a spatula, until the mixture starts to come together and form small clusters.

3. spread the clusters on a parchment-or silpat-lined sheet pan and bake for 20 minutes. the crumbs should be sandy at that point, and your kitchen should smell like buttery heaven. cool the crumbs completely.

4. crumble any milk crumb clusters that are larger than ½ inch in diameter, and put the crumbs in a medium bowl. add the 20 g (¼ cup) milk powder and toss together until it is evenly distributed throughout the mixture.

5. pour the white chocolate over the crumbs and toss until your clusters are enrobed. then continue tossing them every 5 minutes until the white chocolate hardens and the clusters are no longer sticky. the crumbs will keep in an airtight container in the fridge or freezer for up to 1 month.

chocolate cake

makes 1 quarter sheet pan cake

115g (8 tbs [1 stick]) butter, at room temperature
300g (1 ½ cups) sugar
3 eggs
110g (½ cup) buttermilk
40g (¼ cup) grapeseed oil
4g (1 tsp) vanilla extract
¼ recipe fudge sauce (recipe below) 38 g (3 tbs)
155g (1 ½ cups) cake flour
70g (¼ cup) cocoa powder, preferably valrhona
6g (1 ½ tsp) baking powder
6g (1 ½ tsp) kosher salt
pam or other nonstick cooking spray (optional)

1. heat the oven to 350°f.

2. combine the butter and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and cream together on medium-high for 2 to 3 minutes. scrape down the sides of the bowl, add the eggs, and mix on medium-high for 2 to 3 minutes. scrape down the sides of the bowl once more.

3. on low speed, stream in the buttermilk, oil, and vanilla. increase the miser speed to medium-high and paddle for 3 to 5 minutes, until the mixture is practically white, twice the size of your original fluffy butter-and-sugar mixture, and completely homogenous. there should be no streaks of fat or liquid. stop the mixer and scrape down the sides of the bowl.

4. add the fudge sauce and mix on low speed until fuly incorporated. scrape down the sides of the bowl.

5. with a spatula, stir the flour, cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt together in a medium bowl. on very low speed, add the dry ingredients and mix for 45 to 60 seconds, just until your batter comes together. scrape down the sides of the bowl, and mix on low speed for another 45 seconds to ensure that any little lumps of cocoa powder and cake flour are incorporated.

6. pam-spray a quarter sheet pan and line it with parchment, or just line the pan with a silpat. using a spatula, spread the cake batter in an even layer in the pan. bake for 30 to 35 minutes. the cake will rise and puff, doubling in size, but will remain slightly buttery and dense. at 30 minutes, gently poke the edge of the cake with your finger: the cake should bounce back slightly and the center should no longer be jiggly. leave the cake in the oven for an extra 3 to 5 minutes if it doesn’t pass these tests.

7. take the cake out of the oven and cool on a wire rack or, in a pinch, in the fridge or freezer (don’t worry, it’s not cheating). the cooled cake can be stored in the fridge, wrapped in plastic wrap, for up to 5 days.

fudge sauce

makes about 150 g (1/2 cup), or enough for 4 or more sundaes

30g (1 oz) 72% chocolate, chopped
18g (2 tbs) cocoa powder, preferably valrhona
.5g (⅛ tsp) kosher salt
100g (¼ cup) glucose
25g (2 tbs) sugar
55g (¼ cup) heavy cream

1. combine the chocolate, cocoa powder, and salt in a medium bowl.

2. combine the glucose, sugar, and heavy cream in a heavy-bottomed saucepan and stir intermittently while bringing to a boil over high heat. the moment it boils, pour it into the bowl holding the chocolate. let sit for 1 full minute.

3. slowly, slowly begin to whisk the mixture. then continue, increasing the vigor of your whisking every 30 seconds, until the mixture is glossy and silky-smooth. this will take 2 to 4 minutes, depending on your speed and strength. you can use the sauce at this point or store it in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 weeks; do not freeze.

in a pinch, substitute 35g (2 tsp) corn syrup for the glucose.

malt fudge sauce

makes about 450g (1 ¾ cups), or enough for 12 or more sundaes

60g (2 oz) 72% chocolate, chopped
80g (1 cup) ovaltine, malt flavor
5g (1 tsp) molasses
1g (¼ tsp) kosher salt
200g (½ cup) glucose
50g (¼ cup) sugar
110g (½ cup) heavy cream

follow the recipe for the fudge sauce, substituting the ovaltine for the cocoa powder and adding the molasses along with it. substitute any dark cane syrup for the molasses.

in a pinch, substitute 35 g (2 tbs) corn syrup for the glucose.

ovaltine soak

makes about 65g (¼ cup)

55g (¼ cup) milk
10g (2 tbs) ovaltine, malt flavor
whisk together the milk and ovaltine in a small bowl until the ovaltine is completely dissolved. use immediately.

charred marshmallows

makes about 150g (2 ¾ cups)

150g (2 ¾ cups) marshmallows
spread the marshmallows out evenly on an unlined sheet pan and char them to hell and back with a blowtorch. transfer the pan to the fridge or freezer for 10 minutes to firm up the marshmallows and make them easier to handle. use immediately or store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week.