Milk Bar Cookbook FAQ

my cornflake chocolate chip marshmallow cookies, though delicious, spread flat after baking. what did i do wrong?

the cornflake chocolate chip marshmallow cookie is the trickiest cookie to make and very specific to unsalted (real) butter and the 10 minute creaming process from the book. that said, if you’re still having issues with spreading it could be your oven, the temp of your fridge (therefore the temp of your cookie dough), and more.

  • make sure you cream the butter and sugar for the full 10 minutes on high! – this builds the body of the cookie and prevents spread.
  • certain brands of marshmallows will melt into the cookie, making it incredibly chewy, flattening and caramelizing the edges. just be sure that the marshmallows are evenly distributed in the dough before you scoop it and resist the urge to add more than you need – there can be too much of a good thing! toss your marshmallows in cornstarch if you are at all concerned.
  • you can also add up to an additional 2 tablespoons of flour to counteract any extra moisture that might stem from a difference in your ingredients (grade of butter, size of egg, etc).
  • freeze your cookie rounds and put them directly into your preheated oven.

where do i get…
we make bulk orders for our ingredients through distributors who deliver to our commissary. many of our ingredients are readily available to you in your local supermarket, craft store, baking store or specialty food store. for everything else, try amazon.com.

  • acetate?
    find it here.
  • clear vanilla extract (we specifically use mccormick)
    find it here.
  • cake rings?
    find them here.
  • milk powder?
    nonfat powdered milk exists at almost every supermarket! look in the powdered drink aisle or the baby food section near the powdered formula. find it here.
  • freeze dried corn powder? and is there a sub for it (corn flour, corn meal, polenta, corn nuts, fritos?)
    corn flour and corn powder look similar, but have very different flavors and behave differently in our baked goods. it’s important to track down some freeze dried corn (find it here) to grind up. we also sell already ground corn powder on our website milkbarstore.com polenta, corn nuts, fritos, etc, though cool, do not make great substitutes.
  • passion fruit puree?
    latin supermarkets often carry passion fruit puree. you can also find it here.
  • mini chocolate chips?
    we use a semisweet mini chip from barry callebaut. any semisweet mini chip will do (find them here). if you can’t get your hands on mini chocolate chips, get out your cutting board and break down semi sweet chocolate chunks or regular sized chips to smaller, mini pieces.
  • glucose? can i substitute something else for it?
    glucose is thicker and less sweet than corn syrup. (you can use corn syrup in place- there’s a conversion available in every recipe in the book where it’s needed.) we use caullet brand glucose, but any brand on amazon will do. our mom’s use the wilton brand when cooking from the book and swear by it! find it here.
    what does glucose do? we use glucose to keep our cookies fudgy in the center and tasting fresh for days.
  • sheet gelatin? can i substitute something else for it?
    sheet gelatin is an odorless, tasteless thickening agent. we use silver strength sheet gelatin, (each sheet weighs approx. 2.5g) in our kitchen you can substitute sheet gelatin for powdered gelatin (there’s a conversion every time a recipe calls for sheet gelatin. and there’s a how to on blooming both sheet and powdered gelatin p.29 )

what in the world does milk powder do?

we adoringly refer to milk powder as the msg for bakers. meaning, it deepens the flavor of nearly anything you add it to. milk powder is also a great binder in crunches and crumbs while also adding a great chewy texture to the mix!

what kind of flour do you suggest for an all purpose flour?

we use king arthur “special” flour as our house ap flour. to the average consumer, it’s sold in the grocery store as king arthur “bread flour”. don’t freak out. it just means it has a high enough protein content to also be used as a bread flour. as long as you don’t overmix your cookie dough, it won’t turn your cookies into bread. any and every ap flour will do fine in any recipe calling for “flour”. however cake flour is a different beast, and when called for, cannot be replaced with ap flour.

what kind of butter do you use?

we use plugra an unsalted, european style (the dairy is cultured before churning) butter (82% butterfat). you can find it here. if you can’t get your hands on plugra, do your best to get an unsalted butter (as close to 82% butterfat as possible). european style butter will make your cookies baller, but won’t ruin any recipe if you can’t find it!

what kind of chocolate and/or cocoa powder do you use?

we use valrhona chocolate and cocoa powder because it really is the best from depth of flavor to down right high quality. if you follow suit, all of your chocolatey recipes will blow the socks off of your dessert fans.

skimping on cocoa powder especially will be the difference between a mediocre and killer chocolate baked good so treat yo’self: find it here.

what kind of malt powder do you use?

we use ovaltine malt flavored drink mix for the “malt powder” .

why kosher salt and can i just use table salt?

we prefer baking with kosher salt because we think it has a greater sharpness and depth of flavor than just table salt. that said, you are more than welcome to use table salt if that’s what you have. just keep in mind that table salt has smaller granules and will measure differently in a teaspoon because it occupies more space than a larger granule kosher salt.

my cookies/cake/pie underbaked/burned slightly at the time and temperature listed in the recipe. help!

we bake all of our confections in a mondo, electric convection oven.

all recipe temperatures have been converted to a standard conventional oven. we did a variety of tests in home ovens and took an average bake time to give you a good range. however! every oven is different—get to know yours! ovens run warmer/colder based on several factors including age, location of heating coils, etc. i’d suggest adjusting the time and temp accordingly (and consider rotating your baking sheets in the oven based on hot/cold spots).

in the most liberating and frustrating sense, your cookies/cake/pie are done when they’re done. adjust time, temperature, location on the rack in the oven, etc to get a beautiful baked confection. it’s part of the craft! (i always go for fudgy in the center, golden brown on the outer edges).

i’ve found the relative amount of flour / sugar/ mini chocolate chips differs substantially using volume vs. weight measures

we measure all of our recipes with a digital scale in grams, since it’s the most precise way to go. depending on the amount of air in your flour/sugar/mini chocolate chips and how much you tap/compact it into a cup measurement makes it tricky to give an exact cup/tablespoon/teaspoon measurement for each.
if you don’t have a digital scale, i’d suggest tapping the flour/sugar/mini chocolate down while measuring with cups/tablespoons.

a recipe i found online is different than the recipe in the cookbook. which is correct?

most recipes posted on the internet have used creative license in making our actual milk bar recipes as “easy” to reproduce for the home cook as possible, and therefore are different.

how do i translate these recipes for high altitude baking?
every altitude is a little different, but try:
-reducing the baking powder by 1/8 – 1/4 per teaspoon
-reducing the sugar by 1 – 2 tablespoons per cup
-increasing the buttermilk by 2 – 4 tablespoons per cup (to counterbalance rapid evaporation)
-use cold eggs to give the cake extra strength
-increasing your oven temperature by 25° f to help “set” the batter before it over expands
-reducing the baking time about 20% to prevent over-baking at the higher temperature described above

will you just teach me to bake?
y.e.s. ! we now teach baking classes at our kitchen in williamsburg, brooklyn! register here or sign up to be alerted when we release future classes.

…happy baking!