Compost Cookies

5.6.10 § 14 Comments

You know, there are some things that just sound so weird that you have to try them.  This is why I decided to make compost cookies (in addition to the fact that I have heard tons about them and one of my new favorite bloggers, Adam Roberts, featured them in a post).  So instead of attending the James Beard Foundation Chef’s Night Out on Monday (I think my invite got lost in the mail), I decided to make compost cookies.

Ok, I didn’t make the cookies on Monday.  I actually sat around procrastinating and watching the James Beard developments on my Twitterfeed until I decided it was too late to embark on my cookie-making adventure.  It was Tuesday night when I got around to making my dough.  First, I dusted off my  mixer, which has been gathering dust since my move to Brooklyn in December.  (Literally, I had to wipe it down before it was fit for use.)

Isn’t she pretty?  Birthday gift from my mom (Thanks Mom!!!) Anyway, back to the cookies.  Before we get down to business, let me tell you that I don’t really understand the way that baking works.  You mix basically the same ingredients together every time, and depending on how you do it (how much of each ingredient you use or how long you spend mixing or whatever), it comes out differently.  It blows my mind!   Since I really have no understanding of this process, baking makes me a little bit nervous.  All I can really do is trust the recipe and hope whoever wrote it knows what they’re talking about. (I’m pretty sure it also has something to do with holding your mouth just right, but I’ve got no proof for that one.)  For this recipe, you start off with butter, light brown sugar, regular sugar, and a little bit of corn syrup. 

There’s no corn syrup in this picture because I actually forgot to add it until I’d been mixing for about thirty seconds.  By then, it was too late for a nice ingredient picture that included corn syrup.  (Oh well.)  You mix these ingredients together for two or three minutes.  It will still be kind of grainy (see below), but it will all be fine, I promise.  (You probably shouldn’t listen to me though, since I’ve already admitted I have no clue how this stuff works and I forgot the corn syrup.)

Next, you add eggs and vanilla.  Then, you do something CRAZY.  (Seriously, I mean it, this is crazy!)  You turn the mixer on medium-high, and you walk away, and you let it go for ten minutes.  Ten minutes!!!  For the first five minutes I was fine, I swear.  Then I started getting nervous.  It was about seven minutes in when I realized that I was standing in the kitchen, staring transfixed into my mixer, with my spatula held in my hand like a magic wand at the ready.  I’m really glad my roommate didn’t walk in right then…she probably wouldn’t have believed me if I said I wasn’t spending my time pretending to be Hermione. (Especially since I’ve admitted publicly more than once that I have a huge crush on Ron Weasley.)

So after about ten minutes of this (see attempted action shot above), the dough had transformed into this (see doughy shot below).  I’m not going to lie, it did feel a little like magic.

Then you add the dry ingredients.  Flour, kosher salt, baking powder and baking soda.  (Does anyone else always get baking powder and baking soda confused?  I find that when I’m measuring either of these ingredients out, my blood pressure always skyrockets as I concentrate all my efforts on not screwing things up.  Why couldn’t they think of a different name for one of them?  You’d think that someone would have said, “huh, this is going to get confusing and cause countless baking blunders.”  I digress.)  You add the dry ingredients and mix a tiny bit more, until they’re just incorporated.

Ok, now for the fun part!  You get to mix in your favorite baking ingredients (I used dark chocolate chips and peanut butter chips) and your favorite snack foods (I opted for potato chips and pretzels).  I know, I know.  Crazy.  But the good kind of crazy, like those-people-in-Union-Square-who-give-out-free-hugs crazy.

While the recipe I was using didn’t call for coffee grounds, I threw some in because after some pretty thorough googling, I saw that in the official version of these cookies (served at Momofuku Milk Bar), coffee grounds are an ingredient.  And, I like coffee.

At this point, the recipe I used said that eating this cookie dough raw is dangerously good.  This is very true.  I promised myself only one little taste and it wasn’t until three spoonfuls later that I had the willpower to walk away. 

Ok, so if and when you can make yourself put down the spoon with cookie dough in it, you put the dough in little balls on a parchment-paper-lined cookie sheet.  You’re supposed to use a 6 oz ice cream scoop to do this, but I don’t have an ice cream scoop, so I kicked it old school and used two spoons to make little balls of dough.  I couldn’t tell you how many ounces they were.  What can I say?  I’m a rebel.  You wrap those tightly in plastic wrap and pop them in the fridge for at least an hour.  I refrigerated mine overnight.  (Evidently, if you bake them from room temperature, they won’t hold their shape.)  But, as you can see from the picture, mine didn’t keep their shape anyway.

If you want to see what they’re supposed to look like, you need to click here.  Turns out the Amateur Gourmet isn’t so amateur.

I’m not sure where I went wrong…but my cookies were all flat.  I’m going to have to make these again just to see if I can get it right (which will probably be hard since I don’t know where I went wrong (maybe I should get an ice cream scoop next time), but such is life I guess).  Regardless, they tasted awesome.  I highly recommend you try making these.  And if you figure out how to make them nice and puffy like the version on Amateur Gourmet, let me know will you?

Compost Cookies
Adapted from Amateur Gourmet, adapted from Christina Tosi’s recipe on Regis and Kelly’s website
Makes 24 cookies (mind you, this is partially because I didn’t measure them the way I was supposed to)

1 cup butter (two sticks, unsalted)
1 cup granulated sugar
3/4 cup light brown sugar
1 Tbsp corn syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 large eggs
1 3/4 cups all purpose flour
2 tsps baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsps Kosher salt
1 1/2 cups your favorite baking ingredients (I used dark chocolate chips and peanut butter chips)
1 1/2 cups your favorite snack foods (I used potato chips and pretzels)
1 Tbsp coffee grounds (mine were french vanilla flavored)

First, you want to crush/chop the baking ingredients and snack foods so they’re ready to go.

Now, in a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, cream the butter, sugars, and corn syrup together for 2-3 minutes, occasionally scraping the sides of the bowl with a spatula.  It should be fluffy and pale yellow in color. 

Add the eggs and vanilla on a lower speed to incorporate. Now for the scary part, turn the mixer to medium-high and set a timer for ten minutes.  When the ten minutes is over, the dough should no longer be grainy; it will have doubled in size and should be a pale yellowish-white. 

Add the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt with the mixer on a lower speed.  Mix just until incorporated, about 45-60 seconds.  Be careful not to over-mix here.  Keeping the mixer on the same low speed, add the baking ingredients and coffee grounds and mix until incorporated.  Then, do the same with the snack foods.

Ideally, you then use a 6 oz ice cream scoop to place balls of dough onto a parchment-paper-lined cookie sheet.  Wrap the cookie sheets tightly and pop them in the fridge for a minimum of an hour or up to one week.

DO NOT BAKE your cookies from room temperature or they will not hold their shape.

Heat the oven to 400 F. Take the plastic off your cookies and bake 9 to 11 minutes.  While in the oven, the cookies will puff, crackle and spread.

At 9 minutes, the cookies should be browned on the edges and just beginning to brown towards the center. Leave the cookies in the oven for the additional minutes if these colors don’t match up and your cookies still seem pale and doughy on the surface.  (Note: I had to leave mine in the oven for about 12 minutes.)

Cool the cookies completely on the sheet pan (haha, right) before transferring to a plate or an airtight container or tin for storage. At room temp, they’ll keep five days.


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§ 14 Responses to Compost Cookies

  • DK says:

    Great post and I can’t wait to try that salty-sweet combo…mmmmm. Thanks! 🙂

  • Marie says:

    I dont care how flat they are youre gonna have one less cookie when you come home tonight!

  • Merri says:

    i just ate a compost cookie from milk bar when i was in NYC this past weekend…SO. GOOD. and last night, i came home from work at 1:30 am and then made nutella chocolate chip cookie dough out of sheer stress. i’ll be baking them tonight, just thought i’d keep you informed. 🙂

    • tyla says:

      I actually haven’t had a real one from Milk Bar yet…it’s on my to-do list for this weekend! And Nutella chocolate chip?! That sounds amazing…except if I ever buy Nutella I just fall into the trap of eating it by the spoonful…

  • MK says:

    I had the pleasure of tasting one of these cookies today. Absolutely delicious!!! Thanks for sharing this recipe.

  • Tamara says:

    Mmmmh! Looks so good. Can’t wait to try them!

  • sally says:

    It’s incredible how much I can’t do because I don’t have a mixer…

  • Stephanie says:

    I know how you feel about leaving the mixer just running like that for so long. I end up standing there staring at whatever complicated icing I’ve decided to make for the entire length of time.

    those cookies look so good!

  • Erin says:

    Haha! Cookies of any sort are God’s gift to me..

  • Gin says:

    Don’t worry, you can totally handle baking – it’s not voodoo I promise!

    (I just made david lebovitz’s german chocolate cake for my gentleman friend’s birthday, and it reminded me of having it with you and your mom for her birthday, and it was all cakey and homesickly.)

    To remedy the flatness, you might try decreasing the sugar slightly, increasing the flour slightly, replacing some of the butter with shortening, or decreasing the mixing time. Here’s a nice link about cookie methods:

    • tyla says:

      WHAT?!?! There is a method to this madness??!! I’m going to have to remake these until I get it right now…I’m a woman on a mission…

  • Merri says:

    So, I varied this recipe a bit since I had no corn syrup and have 5-7 go-to blondie/choc chip cookie recipes sitting around my kitchen at any given time (let’s remember how important baked goods are to my relationships with people at my company haha). I ended up making them into cookie bars by just pressing down all the dough into a pan, and I added pretzels and graham cracker pieces in addition to pb and chocolate chips. The dough was so good I wasn’t sure I could even bring myself to put it in the oven…and then when it came out my roommate and I promptly ate half the pan while watching Glee…oops.

    Basically, verdict = SUCCESS!

  • Maya says:

    I bake quite a bit and my cookies came lt flat too. I think it’s a faulty recipe. Them again adam’s turned out well, so I can’t explain that one. Maybe it was a fluke that his cookies didn’t flatten? Anyway you’re not the only one!

    • tyla says:

      Maya, I actually talked to Adam (the Amateur Gourmet) about it and he said that when you do it, you have to crush the pretzels and potato chips (or whatever you use) up into a really fine powder. That way it will act almost like extra flour and puff the cookies up more. I haven’t tried it again yet, but I think either doing that or leaving the pieces chunky and just adding a bit more flour than it calls for might work…

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