compost / kitchen sink cookies

This time of year always puts me in the mood to clean things out.  Closets, drawers, the pantry, the freezer.  The latter two came in handy for this particular recipe.

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These cookies were inspired by the Compost Cookie at Momofuku Milk Bar.  I haven’t visited NYC for 2 years and have been feeling some serious withdrawal for my favorite bakeries so making these helped ease the pain, and as I mentioned previously, it helped me do a bit of cleaning out at the same time!

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The original recipe calls for pretzels, potato chips, chocolate chips, ground coffee, butterscotch chips, rolled oats, and graham cracker crust but I only had a few of those items on hand so I improvised.  I used potato chips, semi sweet chocolate chips and chocolate chunks (yes, I often have both on hand), white chocolate chunks, ground up homemade vanilla wafers (left over in my freezer from a Thanksgiving pie crust), and ground up black sesame seeds (leftover from the last time I made black sesame ice cream and accidentally ground up too many seeds.)

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The results were a multi-textured cookie that satisfied both salty and sweet cravings and almost felt like a meal due to their robustness.  And better yet, I cleared out some space for more random leftover goodies from future baking projects!

Kitchen Sink Cookies (adapted from the Compost Cookies recipe in “Milk: Momofuku Milk Bar” by Christina Tosi)

  • 2 sticks butter
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • 2/3 cup tightly packed brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 cup chocolate chips (I used a combo of milk, semi-sweet, and white chocolate chunks as that is what I had on hand)
  • 2 cups potato chips (Cape Cod brand are recommended because they are crunchy and don’t break down too much in the mixing process)
  • 1 1/2 cups of any other mix-ins you have on hand, I used ground homemade vanilla wafers I had leftover in my freezer from a Thanksgiving pie crust, as well as ground black sesame seeds that I had leftover from the last time I made black sesame ice cream; other recommendations are pretzels, butterscotch or peanut butter chips, ground coffee (2 1/2 teaspoons is the recommended measurement for ground coffee), old-fashioned rolled oats, but feel free to experiment

Combine the butter, and sugars in the bowl f a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and cream together on medium-high for 2 to 3 minutes.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl, add the egg, and vanilla, and beat for 7 to 8 minutes.

Reduce the speed to low and add the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt.  Mix just until the dough comes together, no longer than 1 minute.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula.

Still on low speed, add the chocolate chips and any other mix-ins except for potato chips and pretzels, and mix just until incorporated.  Add the potato chips and pretzels (if using) and paddle, still on low speed, until just incorporated.  Be careful not to overmix or break too many of the pretzels or potato chips.

Portion out the dough in approximately 1/3 cup measurements onto a parchment- or Silpat-lined baking sheet.  Pat the tops of the cookie dough flat.  Wrap the sheet pan tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, or up to 1 week.  Do not bake your cookies from room temperature as they will not bake properly.

Heat the oven to 375 degrees F.

Arrange the chilled dough a minimum of 4 inches apart on parchment- or Silpat-lined baking sheets.  Bake for 18 minutes.  The cookies will puff, crackle, and spread.  After 18 minutes they should be very faintly browned on the edges yet still bright yellow in the center.  Give them an extra minute or so if that is not the case.

Cool the cookies completely on the baking sheets before transferring to a plate or an airtight container for storage.  At room temp, cookies will keep fresh for 5 days; in the freezer, they will keep for 1 month.

black sesame pear tea cake

I credit my days living in New York’s Chinatown for helping me discover the beauty of black sesame.  It was always my flavor of choice at bubble tea shops and at the Chinatown Ice Cream Factory which in turn inspired me to recreate the ice cream at home.  I had never baked with black sesame seeds before but had torn out a recipe for Black Sesame-Pear Tea Cake a while back that intrigued me so decided to give it a whirl.

The recipe instructs you to combine several tablespoons of whole black sesame seeds along with a half-cup of ground up seeds as well.  I put my coffee grinder to use and worked those seeds until they turned into a beautiful paste.  Besides black sesame seeds, the only other ingredient that is slightly out of the norm in the recipe is almond meal which can be found in most any grocery store these days.  Bob’s Red Mill makes a great one.

Word to the wise: I often have buttermilk on hand for various baking exploits but it can easily be made in your kitchen in a pinch.  Simply put a tablespoon of white vinegar in a measuring cup and add a cup of milk and let them sit for 5 minutes.  Voila!  Way easier than changing out of your sweatpants, putting make-up on in the off-chance of running into someone you know and driving to the grocery store to buy some while in the midst of your baking project.  You’re welcome.

Be sure to use a ripe pear– mine was slightly less than ripe and even though it softened in baking I think the pear flavor would have been more pronounced if I had used a properly ripe pear.  I can assure you it was still delightful though.  It’s the kind of cake you make when you want to have a lovely cup of tea and not feel like a total fatty after a meal.  It’s light and sweet and the black sesame has an almost savory flavor, not unlike peanut butter.  In other words, totally awesome.

Black Sesame-Pear Tea Cake (found at

  • ½ cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, room temperature, plus more
  • 1 ½ cups plus 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup almond flour or almond meal
  • 2 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ½ teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 tablespoons plus ½ cup black sesame seeds
  • 1 1/3 cups plus 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 large egg yolk
  • ¾ cup buttermilk
  • 1 (medium) firm but ripe Bosc pear, peeled, cored, cut into 1/4″ cubes

Preheat oven to 325°F. Butter one 9x5x3″ loaf pan or six 4x2x2″ paper or metal loaf pans. Whisk 1 ½ cups flour, next 4 ingredients, and 2 tablespoons sesame seeds in a medium bowl. Grind remaining ½ cup sesame seeds in spice mill to form a thick paste, about 2 minutes.

Using an electric mixer, beat ½ cup butter and 1 1/3 cups sugar in a large bowl until well combined, 2-3 minutes. Add sesame paste and beat, occasionally scraping down sides of bowl, until blended, 1-2 minutes. Add egg and egg yolk. Beat until pale and fluffy, 3-4 minutes. On low-speed, beat in flour mixture in 3 additions, alternating with buttermilk in 2 additions, beginning and ending with dry ingredients. Toss pear with remaining 2 tablespoons flour in a small bowl; fold into batter.

Spoon batter into prepared pan; smooth top. Sprinkle with remaining 2 tablespoons sugar.

Bake until a tester comes out clean when inserted into center, about 1 hour 40 minutes for large loaf and 45-55 minutes for small loaves. Let cool in pans on a wire rack.

Black Sesame Ice Cream

Do your Sundays fly by as fast as mine do? I just don’t know where the day went… and it doesn’t help that I live next to a church whose bell rings on the hour, every hour, reminding you exactly how fast the day is going. Ding, ding… it’s two o’clock already? Ding, ding, ding, ding, ding. What??? Five o’clock? No way. I swear only 5 minutes passed between the time the bell struck six times and when it struck seven. It felt like that shot in an old black-and-white movie where the hour hand just flies around the clock to illustrate the passing of time. (Why doesn’t time fly like that during the work day?) On the very bright side, today I made black sesame ice cream.

I first encountered black sesame ice cream years ago at a dessert restaurant in NYC called Kyotofu and then consumed it on a frequent basis several years after that when I lived mere blocks away from the Chinatown Ice Cream Factory. It’s good stuff. It’s got a toasted, nutty flavor to it, not totally unlike peanut butter but I would even say better than. And I live on pb.

This ice cream is so good I daresay that if it were legal to marry ice cream in the state of Wisconsin I would march down to the county clerk and get myself a permit straight away. It’s that good. And I was afraid whatever I could make at home couldn’t live up to what I’ve had in the past, but you know what? It was even better. For reals. I can see this ice cream and I enjoying a lovely summer together…

Black Sesame Ice Cream (loosely adapted from “Black Sesame and Orange Ice Cream” found on by Ethan Frisch and Max Falkowitz)

  • ¼ cup black sesame seeds
  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1 cup heavy cream
  • 6 egg yolks
  • ¾ cup sugar
  • ¼ cup toasted sesame oil
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt

Toast sesame seeds in small skillet, stirring frequently, until fragrant and nutty, then set aside to cool.

Transfer seeds to a blender and blend on high till seeds are crushed. (I don’t have a blender so used my coffee grinder to pulverize the seeds and then transferred them to a food processor for next step.) Add two to three tablespoons heavy cream and blend till smooth. Add remaining heavy cream and milk and blend on high till well combined, about two minutes. Seeds will not be completely pulverized, which is fine. Large chunks can always be strained out.

Combine egg yolks and sugar in the bowl of an electric mixer. Beat at medium-high speed until very thick and pale yellow, 3 to 5 minutes. Whisk yolk and dairy mixtures in a heavy-bottomed three quart saucepan over low heat, stirring constantly while custard thickens. Custard is done when it coats the back of a spoon and a swiped finger leaves a clean line.

Remove from heat and pass mixture through a strainer into a medium mixing bowl set in an ice bath until chilled, stirring from time to time. Stir in sesame oil and salt till well combined. Freeze in an ice-cream maker according to manufacturer’s instructions. Transfer to a plastic container to store.