Monday, November 01, 2010

Compost Cookies

Halloween is something of a crapshoot here. Sometimes the kids flood to the door in clumps of nearly a dozen, and other years we're lucky if we get that many the whole night. This past Sunday the doorbell kept ringing, and my helper hellhound and I greeted scores of neighborhood kids.

We were quickly cleaned out of our peanut butter cups. and I frantically biked to the grocery store to restock. Sadly the quality salty-sweet peanut butter candy was gone, so I grabbed a couple of bags of the "fun" size chocolate bar samplers, and rushed home. To total radio silence. We had two more trick-or-treaters the entire night. And so, with a bag full of Mr. Goodbars and Krackle, I turned to compost cookies.

Like many of my fellow Pacific Northwesterners, I'm something of an obsessive composter. So of course these cookies appealed to me. They're from baker Christina Tosi of New York's Momofuku Milk Bar, and are reputed to be a perfect repository for anything you can find in your pantry: bits of cereal, candy bars, goldfish crackers, pretzels, and, if stories are to be believed, a dollop of coffee grounds (I did, however, draw the line at the salt-and-vinegar potato chips lingering on a back shelf). You could probably try this nifty trick with any cookie recipe, but Tosi's particular variation whips the bejesus out of the butter and sugar, moving beyond creaming to create a crispy-outside, chewy-inside ugly-yet-delicious cookie. The most unexpected ingredients (I went with tortilla chips, a Chex-like cereal, and the assorted chocolate bars) create a deep combination of flavors, with that prized salty-sweet edge. Clearing out the leftovers should always be so delicious.

Compost Cookies

from Christina Tosi, via various blogs
yields ~15 large cookies

1 cup unsalted butter, softened to room temperature
1 cup sugar
3/4 cup brown sugar
1 Tbsp corn syrup
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 eggs
1 3/4 cups flour
2 tsp baking powder
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp coarse salt
1 1/2 cups salty snack food (chips, crackers, pretzels, cereal, etc)
1 1/2 cups sweet snack food (candy bars, butterscotch chips, chocolate-covered whatever, etc)

Place the butter, sugars and corn syrup in a mixer, and beat with a paddle attachment until pale and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. Scrape down the sides, and add the vanilla and eggs. Beat on low to incorporate, then raise the speed to medium-high and beat for a full 10 minutes. It will become paler in color and larger in volume.

While the mixture is beating, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Set aside. Chop or crush or crumble your snack foods into little bits, and set aside.

When the butter mixture has been beaten for a full ten minutes, add the flour mixture and beat for a few seconds until just combined. Add the snack foods, and stir until combined. Cover the mixture, and chill at least an hour (and up to a few days -- do not forgo the chilling, otherwise terrible meltage and nasty flat cookies will ensue). After chilling, scoop into 1/4 cup portions, place on a cookie sheet (or plate, if your fridge, like mine, doesn't have space for a full sheet sheet), and chill another 1/2 hour.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Place the shaped cookies on a greased or lined cookie sheet, and bake until they've browned on the edges, and are just beginning to brown on the tops (this takes less time than you'd think -- only about 10 minutes for such large cookies). Let cool on the sheet for a few minutes, then move to a rack and cool completely.


  1. Brills! I'm going to forward the link to Jen and see if she'll make them in advance of our visit. I know she had lots of leftover candy (and we had none, since we live on kind of a non-trick-or-treating [trick-nor-treating?] block).

  2. I love cookies but I was never brave enough to try making them at home...