Corn cookies

February 21, 2012 § 6 Comments

It’s taken me entirely way too long to share a recipe from Momofuku Milk Bar, but finally I can present — with necessary squeals of excitement — corn cookies!

Back in October my friend Stephen took me on a brief culinary tour of midtown Manhattan, which included a stop at Momofuku Milk Bar’s cookie stand so I could finally sample their sweets after having waxed on about how much I liked the previous cookbook. It became clear on our tour that Stephen relishes the culinary opportunities afforded by Manhattan, and arguably their cookies are his number one reason for never wanting to leave the island (ok, I may be projecting a bit; his research would keep him there for certain).

However, occasionally he can be spotted in the wilderness of America, most recently last weekend when he traveled down to Philadelphia, where I’d organized a whirlwind trip to see some of our other friends who live there, with a touch of sightseeing and squelching in the rain/snow/sleet besides.

As Stephen was staying with me at my sister and her now-fiancé’s apartment, he very kindly brought a selection of Momofuku Milk Bar cookies to thank them for their hospitality (I brought chocolates and homemade banana bread, not surprisingly slightly less exciting). Among Stephen’s precious bounty were a few of the famous corn cookies.

For those of us who can’t walk to Milk Bar any old time we feel like it, corn cookies might sound kind of weird, but they are unbelievably delightful. The words corn and cookie are quite ordinary, but when heard in tandem, they tend to elicit a head-tilt “Huh?,” most likely because corn is associated with savory dishes in most people’s minds. In concept corn cookies are rather like corn bread with more sugar, but intensely so, a veritable explosion of sugary corn joy encased in a crisp exterior that shatters into soft buttery crumbs.

While corn cookies require a bit more planning before baking than the average cookie, they are, despite the reputation of the Momofuku bakery/restaurant empire, easy to execute in a home kitchen, with a few caveats.

The first: I have read that many people struggle to find exotic-sounding freeze-dried corn powder and corn flour. If you live in a relatively populated region, don’t be daunted, your local Whole Foods carries both. If you don’t live near a Whole Foods, many other natural foods stores/co-ops also carry these ingredients, or take advantage of the glories of internet shopping and order one or both from Amazon and/or online natural foods retailers.

By the way, freeze-dried corn powder, which you can make yourself from freeze-dried corn (see step one below) should not be confused with regular old dried (pop)corn, they are not the same thing. Similarly, corn flour is not cornmeal.

The second: while the book says that the corn cookies can only be made by those with stand mixers ( I’d recommend a really, really sturdy one for the job and don’t waste your time with a hand mixer, they don’t have enough power in them to do the job creditably), it is possible to make them with a lot of human-powered effort.

When I say a lot I really mean it: my arms and shoulders are still sore from the effort. Despite cursing myself for not bringing back my stand mixer last year I will of course be making corn cookies again, they are that good!

Corn cookies

Adapted from Momofuku Milk Bar

Makes one dozen cookies

Ingredients

  • Sixteen tablespoons (two sticks or 225 grams) unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • One and a half cups (300 grams) sugar
  • One large egg
  • One and 1/3 cups (225 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup (45 grams) corn flour
  • 2/3 cup (65 grams) freeze-dried corn powder (see step one, below)
  • 3/4 teaspoon (three grams) baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon (1.5 grams) baking soda
  • 3/4 teaspoon sea salt

1. First, make the freeze-dried corn powder by weighing out 65 grams of freeze-dried corn. Either in a blender, or inside a sealed plastic bag with the air pushed out and armed with a rolling pin, crush the freeze-dried corn kernels until they become a dusty powder.

2. In a large mixing bowl, stir together the sugar and butter at medium-high speed (on a stand mixer) for two to three minutes, or as fast as you can by hand and wooden spoon for four minutes (I did warn you that this is a lot easier with a stand mixer, and this isn’t even the worst of it!). Then, crack in the egg, continuing to mix for seven to eight minutes with a machine, or about ten minutes by hand until the butter and sugar mixture is doubled in volume and glossy in appearance.

3. Stir in the dry ingredients (corn flour, corn powder, baking soda, and sea salt), mixing on low speed for one minute until the dough just becomes cohesive. For those who are still with us, stirring cookie dough by hand, this takes about one and a half minutes with a wooden spoon.

4. To portion out the cookies, I recommend using either a 1/4 cup measuring cup, or weigh out roughly 74 gram balls of dough on the scale (this will give you twelve cookies).

5. Place the cookie dough balls onto a parchment- or silpat-lined baking sheets spaced out at least four inches apart. Gently smush on the balls of dough until they are mostly flat on top. If you are baking the cookies today, place the cookie sheets in the refrigerator for at least one hour, tightly covered in plastic wrap if not baking within the next two hours or so. The cookies will not bake correctly if they are not thoroughly chilled, so I do not recommend skipping this step.

6. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Remove the plastic wrap if necessary from the cookie sheet, and bake the cookies for seventeen to nineteen minutes, or until the center of the cookie is a luscious golden yellow, with a subtly-gilded-brown edge.

7. Let the cookies cool completely on the tray before lifting the silpat or parchment paper and transferring the cookies to a plate or airtight storage/transport container. Enjoy!

Note: baked cookies keep for up to five days at room temperature in an airtight container. They can also be frozen for up to a month if tightly wrapped; let thaw at room temperature.

Alternatively, as the dough can be stored in the refrigerator for up to one week, I recommend portioning out all the dough at once. Then, wrap the cookie dough that isn’t being baked that day in individual pieces of plastic wrap. At least fifteen minutes before you want to start baking the cookies, preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Once the oven is preheated, unwrap the dough balls, place on a lined cookie sheet, pat flat, and bake as directed.

Bibliography

Tosi, Christina with Courtney McBroom. “Corn Cookies.” Momofuku Milk Bar. New York: Clarkson Potter/Publishers, 2011 (44).

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§ 6 Responses to Corn cookies

  • chefconnie says:

    I have been wanting to make these. They look fabulous.

    • k.m. says:

      Go for it!

      I looked forward to making them for so long, and they did not disappoint. They’re fun to make and my only regret is not baking them sooner (ok, and not bringing back my stand mixer, but that’s another problem, heh!).

  • Karen says:

    You are right…corn and cookies don’t seem that two things you would think of but I’m sure that they are very good.

  • The Duchess says:

    Oh man I love corn bread! I travelled around the US a couple of years ago and got many strange looks asking if every establishment I went to served corn bread. These sound like corn bread on crack, I can’t wait to make them. x

    • k.m. says:

      Cornbread is one of America’s great culinary inventions; it’s also the subject of many heated debates (personally I’ve never met cornbread I didn’t like!).

      I am not sure if the freeze-dried corn is available in Australia, but I hope if you manage to track some down that you’ll enjoy the cookies. They are so worth the effort though if you love cornbread (and cookies).

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