Trying My Hand at Milk Bar’s Compost Cookies

Last year during a trip to Washington, D.C., one of my (many) must-do stops was the D.C. outlet of Milk Bar, a renowned NYC bakery from chef Christina Tosi.

Since my visit was in May and the weather was warm and sunny, most people in line were ordering Milk Bar’s famous soft serve “cereal milk” ice cream, which is infused with brown sugar and corn flakes so that it tastes like the milk at the bottom of a bowl of sweetened cereal. 

I had my eye on something else: compost cookies.

Here’s their description from Milk Bar’s website:

Packed with pretzels, potato chips, coffee, oats, graham cracker, butterscotch and chocolate chips, this cookie strikes the perfect balance between salty and sweet!

I agreed 100% after trying one, but had to have a second cookie the following day to confirm. Thorough research, etc.

Considering that I live far, far away from any of the Milk Bar bakeries (probably a good thing), I was pretty jazzed to discover Compost Cookie mix last week at Target.

This mix retails for $4.99 and is supposed to make 12 cookies. You are required to add one egg, 4 tablespoons of butter, and crushed pretzels and potato chips.

I skipped the pretzels, mostly because we didn’t have any.

The dough was incredibly sweet, almost too much, but I powered through some tastes for the sake of being a thorough reporter. You’re welcome.

Even without the pretzels, I still had enough dough to make 15 – not 12 – cookies.

I baked them for 11 minutes at 375 F and that was probably a minute too long.

They were slightly more done that I normally would have liked.

I had one with a glass of almond milk while they were still warm.

It was chewy and delicious.

Milk Bar is extremely generous with their recipes. If you’re not as lazy as I am, you can make almost all of their bakery items from scratch using recipes found here. 

P.S. While I was all about the compost cookie in this post,  I would give an even higher rating to Milk Bar’s Birthday Cake Truffles, which are out of this world, dangerously delicious. Fortunately there isn’t a mix for these.






Candy Bar Brownies

Our friends P & T invited us over to their house on Sunday, and I gallantly said I would bring a dessert.

Except that I barely ever cook, I didn’t have much time, and I couldn’t think of anything to make.

And then I remembered these candy bar brownies.

I saw this recipe in a newspaper column about five years ago, back when we were still living in Texas.

At the time, it seemed over-the-top decadent for a picnic or potluck, which struck me as being particularly Texan.

These brownies couldn’t be easier (even for me!), and they turn out great every time. You can also mix up the filling, but I am partial to the original recipe.


Here’s what to do:

  • Spray a 9″ x 13″ cake pan with cooking spray
  • Prepare the boxes of brownie mix according to instructions
  • Pour half of the raw dough into the prepared pan
  • Top with broken-up pieces of the candy bars
  • Cover with the rest of the brownie mix
  • Bake at 350 F for one hour. This last part is important! It takes a long time for these to be done.

Here’s a snap from the half-way point:


I leave the candy bar pieces pretty large and distribute them so that each brownie will have a bit of candy.

After baking, the candy bars form a truffle-like layer of filling that is absolutely delicious.

A few tips:

  • Don’t try to skimp and just use one box of brownie mix, unless you use an 8″ x 8″ pan. Otherwise, they’ll be too thin and you’ll lose the layered effect if you use a 9″ x 13″ pan.
  • Box brownie mix is also fine for this recipe, since the truffle-y filling is the star.
  • There’s something about the smooth and creamy texture of the Symphony bars that make them well-suited for this, but these would also be awesome with Reese’s peanut butter cups in the middle.




The Perfect Dessert

Do you ever need an impressive dessert that works for almost every occasion?

Try this flourless chocolate cake.

I mean it! 

It’s sophisticated enough for even the most particular palates***, but kids also chow it down like there’s no tomorrow. 

(It’s also gluten-free, but make no mistake; this is dessert and it is NOT healthy).

Now, everyone knows that I can’t cook a darn thing. Really.

But this cake brings it home, every time. The only potential stumbling blocks are needing a springform pan (even I can handle that) and deciding what type of chocolate to use (more below).

Seriously, follow the directions, and you are golden.


  • 1 cup (2 sticks) butter, plus more for the pan
  • 1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder, plus a sprinkling for the pan
  • 1/4 cup whipping cream
  • 8 ounces semi-sweet chocolate (I have used part of a giant Trader Joe’s bar and two semi-sweet Ghirardelli bars; both with good results)
  • 5 eggs
  • 1 cup sugar

What to do:

  1. Heat oven to 350° F.
  2. Butter a 9-inch springform pan and dust with cocoa powder. (Use the paper from the two sticks of butter to do the buttering. Dump a little cocoa in your pan, roll it around, dump excess in sink).
  3. Break up the chocolate into pieces. Sampling is ok. Why wouldn’t you know what you’re getting into?
  4. In a medium pan, heat the butter with ¼ cup whipping cream over medium-low heat until the butter is melted.
  5. Add the broken chocolate and stir until melted and smooth; remove from heat.
  6. In a different  bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugar, and cocoa.
  7. Whisk in the hot chocolate mixture from the pan.
  8. Transfer everything to the springform pan and bake until puffed and set, 35 to 40 minutes. (Abide by this! I use 35 mins). It will fall after you take it out of the oven, but that’s ok.

How to serve:

  • Dust with powdered sugar
  • With creme fraiche and berries (optional: mint leaves)
  • With whipped cream (whip the extra you bought for the paltry 1/4 cup above; season with a toss of sugar and a soupçon of vanilla)
  • With ice cream
  • Sprinkled with coarse salt (and caramel if you’re going all out)
  • As it is. This cake is really good.

*** The most recent debut of this dessert was to a group of people that I can best describe as extraordinarily nice but used to the best. I was so nervous to cook for them! But this cake was a hit. My kids also begged for the extras!