Baking isn’t an exact science. For some reason, people love to say that, but it just isn’t true. Adding or taking away spices, sugar, fillings such as fruits or nuts, and even sometimes minor changes in flour or butter won’t give you a disaster as an end product. Don’t get me wrong, 2 cups of flour instead of 1 is not going to end well, but 2 teaspoons of ground cinnamon instead of 1 most likely will. Beyond that, if baking were an exact science, all recipes, if followed exactly, would turn out perfectly. And I know from experience, and I’m betting a lot of you do to, that is not true.
There are variables in baking such as quality of ingredients and oven temperatures that the recipe author cannot predict or control, so it is up to us as bakers to not rely on that old adage, but instead use our instincts and unfortunately a little bit of trial and error.
I was reminded once again while making Confetti Cookies from the Momofuku Milk Bar Cookbook about that whole baking not being a science thing. I followed the recipe word for word. The first step, which I like doing the day before making the actual cookies, though this is not necessary, is making the Birthday Cake Crumb. It’s super easy to make; I didn’t even use a mixer. I baked them for the full time and they came out really crunchy. Still yummy, but really crunchy.
Then it came time to make the cookies. Everything went well, they looked good, were a little crumbly and I had to mash them together, but all in all, I felt confident I would end up with a quality final product. I checked the cookies after 10 minutes of baking and found they were starting to brown on the bottom, but looked pretty raw on top. After a couple more, they looked done enough to remove from the oven to save. After they cooled for a few minutes, picking up these cookies while warm cannot be done without the cookie breaking into a bunch of pieces, my fears proved to be true: they were brown on the bottom, not quite burnt, just really, really brown. Too brown for me. They still tasted good, but failed to live up to my cookie and Momofuku expectations. I resolved to make them again.
I am going to blame this on my new oven and the way it bakes, which I’m not a huge fan of. I think there’s probably nothing wrong with the recipe, as I kind of think Christina Tosi from Momofuku is a genius and I don’t think she’d steer me wrong. So, a lot less time, a lower oven temperature (325 degrees F instead of 350 degrees F), and higher oven racks later, I baked the cookies I was dreaming about.
There are a few steps to make these cookies, but they’re pretty easy to make, and they are definitely worth it. Seriously, don’t be afraid of the process, these are fantastic. The second batch tasted like I imagine they taste at Momofuku, as I’ve had, and loved, both the peanut butter and corn cookies straight from the source, and they have that same perfect flavor and kind of raw sugar/cookie dough flavor that is unparalleled in elsewhere in the cookie universe.
The Birthday Cake Crumb should be very moist when it comes out of the oven. Most of it will harden, some of it won’t, it’s all amazing. You only need half of the recipe for the cookies, but make the whole thing. It’s great for snacking and I definitely think ¾ of it can make it into the cookie dough without a problem. Eating one is perfection with the sweet flavor and the slightly crunchy, slightly crumbly, slightly soft texture.
Then there are the cookies. They are barely crunchy, and instead chewy around the edges, while super soft with that scrumptious cookie dough thing in the center. The bites with crumb have a little more crunch to them. Every bite is awesome, really, really awesome. The flavor is very reminiscent of the boxed Funfetti cakes they’re inspired by, only way better.
This is one recipe where I would highly recommend using Davidson Pasteurized Eggs because the cookie batter is the best I’ve ever had. If you make one less cookie so you can just eat the batter, I won’t tell. It also killed me a little to use imitation clear vanilla extract, but Christina told me through Twitter (yes, I Tweeted with her!) it was important. I used it; it’s good, but leaves a little aftertaste. When I make them again, I just might try my pure vanilla extract.
You won’t regret making these cookies, but when you do watch them like crazy while they are baking. Even with the reduced time and temperature, they were about a minute away from being too brown on the bottom. While you make these, which you should really do, you’ll have to excuse me while I head to the freezer for one.
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- 1 ½ tablespoons packed light brown sugar
- ¾ cup cake flour
- ½ teaspoon baking powder
- ½ teaspoon kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons rainbow sprinkles (I used Betty Crocker)
- ¼ cup grapeseed oil
- 1 tablespoon clear vanilla extract
- 2 sticks unsalted butter, room temperature
- 1 ½ cups granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons glucose, or 1 tablespoon light corn syrup (I used the corn syrup)
- 2 large eggs (the place to use pasteurized for sure)
- 2 teaspoons clear vanilla extract
- 2 ½ cups all-purpose flour
- ⅔ cup milk powder (I used Carnation Instant Milk)
- 2 teaspoons cream of tartar
- 1 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 ¼ teaspoons kosher salt
- ¼ cup rainbow sprinkles
- ½ recipe Birthday Cake Crumb (or a little more)
- Make the crumb. Preheat oven to 300 degrees F. In a medium bowl, mix together sugars, flour, baking powder, salt, and rainbow sprinkles until fully combined. Add the oil and vanilla. Stir until the addition of the wet ingredients causes clumps to form. All of the dry ingredients should be coated with the wet and clumps of various sizes should be present.
- Pour the clusters onto a parchment lined baking sheet. Spread them out so they are in roughly one thick layer. Do not spread them out thinly, leaving spaces between them, or they will overbake.
- Bake for 10 minutes. Stir and break them up slightly. Bake for a couple more minutes until they are starting to harden around the edges but are still very soft moving toward the center. Allow to cool completely on the baking sheet. They should harden, though some will be firmer than others, and some will be larger than others. This is perfect.
- Once cooled, they may be immediately used or eaten (they’re pretty delicious warm too), or stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 1 week or in the refrigerator or freezer for up to 1 month. They will continue to harden slightly the longer they sit.
- Make the cookies. Place the butter, sugar, and glucose or corn syrup in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on medium-high for 2 to 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl before adding the eggs and vanilla. Continue mixing on medium-high speed for 7 to 8 minutes, scraping down the bowl as necessary. A stand mixer is key, as it is vital to mix for the proper amount of time and on a pretty high speed. Add additional time for that missed while scraping down the bowl.
- Stop the mixer. Pour in the flour mixture, then mix on low speed, just until the flour is incorporated, no longer than 1 minute. Remove the bowl from the mixer and stir very briefly just to make sure all the flour is incorporated, as some may linger on the bottom of the bowl. Quickly stir in the crumbs until just combined.
- Using a regular sized ice cream scoop, scoop 15 mounds of dough onto 1 parchment lined baking sheet, 5 rows of 3. If the cookies need to be formed slightly, do so, then gently flatten the tops of the cookies slightly with fingers. Wrap the sheet tightly with plastic wrap before placing in the refrigerator for at least 30 minutes to chill. Do not skip this step or the cookies will not bake properly.
- Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F while the cookies are chilling. After the cookies have chilled, place them on three parchment lined baking sheets. The sheet used to chill the cookies may be used, however, use a new piece of parchment. Place 5 cookies on each sheet, about 4 inches apart, as far apart as possible. I highly recommend baking only one sheet of cookies per oven at a time. Otherwise they may burn on the bottom. Stash extra trays of cookies in the refrigerator while waiting to bake them.
- Bake the cookies for 10 minutes. After this time, look at the cookies, rotate if necessary, and make a rough estimation of how much more time they need to bake, probably 3 to 5 minutes. Use extreme caution if baking more than 5 additional minutes. The cookies may be lightly golden on the edges, but will be very pale and very soft in the center, looking underbaked, but they are not. Allow to cool completely on sheets; they will firm up.
- May be stored at room temperature in an airtight container for up to 5 days or in the freezer, wrapped in parchment and foil and placed in a zipper bag for up to 3 months. Enjoy!