Back to the Momofuku Milk Bar Cookbook, I think every dessert lover should have one. I rarely say things like this, especially up front in Her Cookbook Club reviews. The cookbook is published in 2011, which in publication world it’s a very “old” book, but it’s certainly not out of date. Since I first read it, I have worked in the food industry and began to appreciate this book even more. It’s not a cookbook with recipes developed for home baking. It is the real deal. Anyways, I should stopping mumbling and spoiling every detail. Let’s get into our Third(!) HER COOKBOOK CLUB REVIEW – Momofuku Milk Bar, shall we?
You can feel Christina’s Soul when reading Momofuku Milk Bar. You can almost imaging her standing in the professional kitchen, playing serious chef duty or her-6-year-old-self eating raw cookie dough in her Virginia home. This is the type of writing I adore. Sincere, true, storytelling yet still logical. She writes about the real talk in Milk Bar’s kitchen – how to survive, what it is like working there, and how some of the most genius ideas come from incidents. She also writes about her memories about desserts, her childhood, her early years of working and how she becomes the Christina Tosi today.
I like her introduction to each chapter/each category, which reads like her diary to that certain category of dessert. Because of the introductions, you can understand the unusual categories much better and deeper. Almost every recipe has an introduction on why or how it’s born and I really appreciate that. You seriously cannot know that much thought process even working in Milk Bar’s kitchen, I guarantee. Despite her wonderful storytelling intros, the directions in recipes are professional, logical and easy to understand. All in all, it’s an absolutely well-written cookbook.
It is a 2011 cookbook, so don’t expect it has those Pinterest-like food pictures. It’s not the most beautiful cookbook out there, but it certainly is not the last. It has its own Milk Bar vibe, nothing too fancy, quirky but still appealing. Not every recipe has a picture, but most of them (especially the ones you can’t just imagine yourself) does. There are also many pictures taken in the Milk Bar kitchen and I quite like that behind the scene feeling. Function-wise, it’s well organized. You can easily locate the recipe you’re looking for. The recipe layout is efficient and clear. Unlike usual baking cookbooks where the contents are categorized by dessert types like cakes, pies, ice-creams, Momofuku Milk Bar is categorized by Cereal Milk, the Crunch, the Crumb and so on. Don’t worry, as I mentioned in the writing section, Christina did a fantastic job explaining each category. You can also use the index to find recipes organized by dessert types.
As I said in the introduction, Momofuku Milk Bar is not a cookbook with recipes developed by a home baker. We’re talking about professional baking. I do believe many (if not all) of the recipes are the same ones used in Milk Bar kitchen, which means more complicated steps and unusual ingredients. It is a bit of commitment to buy freeze-dried corn, glucose or clear McCormick vanilla extract (and I still have no idea how to use up them except for making more Milk Bar recipes). It is a bit of time consuming and annoying as often times one recipe calls for three other recipes. HOWEVER, those are reasons why desserts from professional kitchen taste different than homemade ones. Specific ingredients create a specific taste and unfortunately, you have to invest a little to taste Momofuku in your own kitchen.
With that being said, once you decide to commit, it’s pretty easy to get ready. Christina creates an ingredients list in the book and explains each key ingredient in detail with what brands they use in the Momofuku Milk Bar kitchen. Again, I really appreciate her sharing those information in the book. All the ingredients can be easily ordered on Amazon. (I created a list with all the key ingredients listed in the book! Hope it helps to increase the accessibility!)
Depending on what you’re looking for, the usefulness level can vary a lot. There are plenty of cookie, layer cake, pie, ice cream and other dessert recipes. Again, all of them are full of classic American flavor but none of them are traditional at all. I think the recipes are very original. Some are on the edge of being innovative to almost gross. If you’re looking for a cookbook teaching you how to make American fruit pies or pretty decorated layer cakes, this book can be useless. Momofuku Milk Bar is really living in its own world. There are definitely recipes I will go back for, but it’s not my go to baking book by all means. In short, it is a Momofuku Milk Bar cookbook, so it will only be useful if you’re at least interested in Momofuku Milk Bar.
So far I have tested 10 recipes (and 4 recipes to go with the 10 recipes) from the cookbook.
Recipes I adore are:
Cereal Milk – it’s my weakness. It’s the first post on HerBakingLab. Enough said.
Cornflake Crunch – oh my second weakness. I have to give it away so I won’t eat it all in one setting. It’s the better & more guilty version of eating cereal straight out of the box.
Birthday Cake Truffle – although you have to basically make a million other things to make those monsters, they taste exactly the same as you bought in Milk Bar. Worth the effort especially if you live in a city without Milk Bar.
Graham Ice Cream – for some reason it tastes so much better than the homemade Cereal Milk Ice Cream, which I didn’t expect. The texture is right, the flavor is on point. It has the same sweet and savory taste and that’s my weakness.
Graham Ganache – in the book it’s made to go with the white peach sorbet. I don’t like the combination, but I cannot help myself stop eating this ganache. It tastes even more “graham-y” than the Graham Ice Cream. (P.S: there’s a reason why you shouldn’t ganache by spoonful. You’ll feel extremely satisfied and sick)
Recipes that aren’t bad, but I may not necessarily go back for:
White Peach Sorbet
Recipe(s) I personally do not like:
Cereal Milk Ice Cream – I’m really disappointed because it tastes nothing like the Cereal Milk soft serve I had about 20000000 times now. It has a weird after taste and it might be the glucose I’m using. The texture is also not as good as Graham Ice Cream because there’s no cream involved.
Cornflake-chocolate-chip-marshmallow Cookies – it’s just way too sweet with all the sugar, marshmallow and chocolate chips inside the cookie. I really love the idea and it is fun to make, but sadly not my cup of tea.
Overall, 8 out of 10 recipes I’ve tried are good. The ones I adore, are not just great recipes, but are things I crave all the time. However, as you can tell, I have a soft spot for sweet and salty combination, especially associate with corn flavor. If you never like Corn Flakes nor the corny milk from the bottom of your cereal bowl, I don’t think you will enjoy most of Momofuku Milk Bar’s recipes as much.
- Real Momofuku Milk Bar dessert recipes
- Behind the scene stories in a professional kitchen
- Great writing & Enjoyable reading
- Clear, logical and easy to understand directions
- Classic American flavor
- Original and unique dessert ideas
As I said in the introduction, I would recommend Momofuku Milk Bar to any dessert lovers (and I rarely say things like this). If you want to know what it is like in the kitchen of a highly successful American dessert shop, this is the book. If you have watched Chef’s Table or you’re already a Milk Bar fan, get this book and start to bake. If you want to know what are some of the most classic American dessert flavors, read this book. If you are bored with all the same dessert ideas, buy this book and start to experiment these familiar but different desserts. Otherwise, if you only want a detailed classic American baking book, BraveTart will be your best friend.
All righty! That’s all I have for Momofuku Milk Bar Cookbook. It took me 3 months to test all the selected recipes and write this post. So please share this post if you think someone you know will like it. Leave a comment below and let me know what you think! Use the hashtag #hercookbookclub on Instagram if you have also made recipes from Momofuku Milk Bar and want to share with us. I’d love to see your creations!
Next up, Molly On the Range by the loveliest Molly Yeh Get yourself a copy (if you live in Seattle, may I suggest the wonderful library?!) so we can discuss it together See y’all next month!