Milk Bar’s Compost Cookies

February 20, 2020 (Last Updated: March 24, 2020)
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Milk Bar is a New York City institution helmed by chef Christina Tosi. She is the visionary creative mastermind behind Cereal Milk Ice Cream and of course the incredible Compost Cookies. These “kitchen sink” style morsels are packed with sweet and savory mix-ins including chocolate chips, coffee grounds, and even potato chips! Making them at home is easier and cheaper than a trip to the Big Apple.

During my brief residence in NYC I was lucky enough to visit the infamous Milk Bar Bakery on multiple occasions. Milk Bar is famous for its outside-of-the-box approach to baked goods and other desserts. Christina Tosi is also quite generous with her brilliance, and has published several cookbooks with cherished recipes from the brand. My absolute favorite Salted Chocolate Chip Cookies are a slight variation on Tosi’s perfect recipe.

I tasted a few of Milk Bar’s other creations over the years, but the truly unique and playful Compost Cookies are personal favorites. Terms like “kitchen sink,” “garbage,” and in this case “compost” sometimes describe a recipe where you add everything you can find. Just chuck it all in there. Everything but the kitchen sink. These cookies are a delicious example of how successful this kitchen sink approach can really be!

You can easily create the tried and true Compost Cookies that helped put Milk Bar on the map. You can also adjust the mix-ins to personalize these cookies to your own tastes. This recipe is quite versatile and lends itself well to adaptation. My cookies follow Tosi’s instructions nearly to a T, but I recommend baking the cookies a bit less than her original recipe dictates. Every oven can vary a bit, even when set to the same temperature. In this case it’s safer to err on the shorter side to avoid over-baking your cookies.

A note on measurements

This recipe includes both volume measurements (cups, tablespoons, teaspoons) and weight measurements (grams). The volume measurements are more accessible for home bakers, but the weight measurements are more precise. I’ve included both, but if you have the ability I HIGHLY RECOMMEND using the gram measurements. I find it actually is faster to measure, and you have less dirty dishes! You can easily find my preferred kitchen scale on Amazon or other retailers. If you’ve ever considered getting one but weren’t sure, I seriously can’t recommend it enough! It will revolutionize your baking and even your cooking.

How to make Compost Cookies

The first step to make Compost Cookies is putting together the Graham Crust. I’ve already adjusted the measurements in the recipe below so you don’t make more than you actually need for these cookies. In a mixing bowl combine crushed graham crackers (either crush them yourself as I did or purchase crumbs), sugar, milk powder, and salt. Add melted butter and heavy cream or milk. The original recipe specifies heavy cream, but I used milk and it was just fine. If you don’t have heavy cream on hand there’s no need to purchase it for the 1 tablespoon you’ll need. Mix until it yields a crumbly mixture that easily clumps. Set aside.

Graham crust

In the bowl of your electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat together a couple sticks of room temperature unsalted butter, granulated sugar, and light brown sugar. Then add an egg and vanilla extract and beat until fluffy and pale. Make sure you occasionally scrape down the sides of the bowl. Reduce the speed and add your dry ingredients: flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Mix until just combined, no longer than 1 minute. Scrape down the sides and add your first batch of mix-ins: chocolate and butterscotch chips, rolled oats, the reserved Graham Crust, and coffee grounds.

Sweet mix-ins: graham crust, chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, coffee grounds, and oats

Mix on low for 30 seconds, then add mini pretzels and potato chips. No need to chop them as the mixer will break them up a bit. Ideally you want some large chunks and even whole pretzels! This should only take a few seconds.

Use a large 2 3/4 ounce ice cream scoop or a 1/3 cup measuring cup to divide up the dough. For portioning the cookies, I use this Oxo ice cream scoop which is a #12 size, with a 2 1/2 ounce capacity. I use slightly heaping scoops, and yield 16 large cookies. Arrange the scoops of dough on a parchment-lined baking sheet. You will NOT be baking them yet, so it’s fine if the scoops are somewhat close together.

Pat the tops of the cookie domes flat and cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour or up to 1 week. I recommend overnight if you can wait that long.

To bake the Compost Cookies, arrange the chilled dough at least 4 inches apart on a parchment-lined baking sheet. You can fit 6 cookies on a half sheet pan.

Bake each sheet one at a time on the center shelf of a 375 degree F oven. The original recipe recommends baking for 18 minutes, but I think this is way too long. Your cookies should be faintly browned at the edges, but still bright yellow in the center. Aim for closer to 15 or 16 minutes. I baked one tray for 17 minutes and another for 16 minutes, and the 17 minute tray was overall crunchier. The 16 minute tray was crisp at the edges but chewier in the middle, with occasional crunchy bites throughout from the pretzels and potato chips. I prefer this texture overall and therefore recommend the shorter bake time.

They will be quite large, about 4-inches in diameter. While you can certainly make smaller cookies, you will likely need to break up the pretzels and potato chips a bit more to do so. Also you should bake smaller cookies for less time.

Compost Cookies ingredient notes

  • Chocolate Chips: The original recipe includes mini chips, but I use regular full-size chips. This works just fine.
  • Butterscotch Chips: Same as above.
  • Coffee Grounds: Do NOT use instant coffee, but any brand of ground coffee will work fine otherwise. Just make sure they are not wet, brewed coffee grounds. Use it fresh from the canister.
  • Rolled Oats: Use rolled oats, not instant oats.
  • Potato Chips: Both the Milk Bar staff and I recommend Cape Cod Potato Chips. They are thicker and more crunchy than other brands, and hold up well in the cookies. The reduced fat version works fine too!
  • Mini Pretzels: Others who make this recipe suggest chopping the pretzels. This isn’t necessary. The pretzels will break up a bit in your mixer, but you also want some large chunks and full pretzels in there. Don’t over-mix!

The resulting Compost Cookies are phenomenal! Even though they contain a couple savory ingredients, they are predominantly sweet. When you mix the dough, two of the most pronounced aromas that stand out to me are coffee and butterscotch. When eating the cookies, you definitely get a nice butterscotch flavor with a generous side of chocolate. The potato chips and pretzels provide a nice crunch while the majority of the cookie (minus the crispy edges) is chewy. This playful recipe for junk food full of more junk food is perhaps the most perfect baked item when you are REALLY craving something naughty. Luckily, the dough freezes quite well, so you can store a few Compost Cookies in a freezer bag for cookie emergencies! We all have those days 😉

Other cookie recipes you may like

Have you ever visited Milk Bar or tried any of their famous sweets? Let me know if you try this recipe for Compost Cookies! And don’t forget to leave a rating if you do 😀

Print Recipe
5 from 2 votes

Milk Bar’s Compost Cookies

Milk Bar is a New York City institution helmed by chef Christina Tosi. She is the visionary creative mastermind behind Cereal Milk Ice Cream and of course the incredible Compost Cookies. These "kitchen sink" style morsels are packed with sweet and savory mix-ins including chocolate chips, coffee grounds, and even potato chips! Making them at home is easier and cheaper than a trip to the Big Apple.
Prep Time40 mins
Cook Time15 mins
Chilling Time1 hr
Total Time1 hr 55 mins
Course: Dessert
Cuisine: American
Keyword: Milk Bar, Momofuku
Servings: 15 to 20 large cookies
Calories: 293kcal
Author: Victoria

Ingredients

Graham Crust

  • 6 tablespoons (48 g) graham cracker crumbs
  • 1 tablespoon (5 g) milk powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons (6 g) granulated sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon (1 g) kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon (14 g) unsalted butter melted, or as needed
  • 1 tablespoon (14 g) milk or heavy cream

Compost Cookies

  • 16 tablespoons (225 g) unsalted butter at room temperature
  • 1 cup (200 g) granulated sugar
  • 2/3 cup (150 g) tightly packed light brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon (18 g) light corn syrup
  • 1 large egg
  • 1/2 teaspoon (2 g) pure vanilla extract
  • 1 1/3 cups (225 g) all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon (2 g) baking powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon (1.5 g) baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon (4 g) kosher salt
  • 3/4 cup (150 g) mini chocolate chips (I use regular size chocolate chips)
  • 1/2 cup (100 g) mini butterscotch chips (I use regular size butterscotch chips)
  • 1/3 cup (40 g) old-fashioned rolled oats not instant oats
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons (5 g) ground coffee not instant coffee
  • 2 cups (50 g) potato chips (I recommend Cape Cod potato chips)
  • 1 cup (50 g) mini pretzels

Instructions

  • To make the Graham Crust: Toss the graham crumbs, milk powder, sugar, and salt with your hands in a medium bowl to evenly distribute your dry ingredients.
  • Whisk the butter and heavy cream together. Add to the dry ingredients and toss again to evenly distribute. The butter will act as glue, adhering to the dry ingredients and turning the mixture into a bunch of small clusters. The mixture should hold its shape if squeezed tightly in the palm of your hand. If it is not moist enough to do so, melt an additional 14 to 25 g (1 to 1 1/2 tablespoons) butter and mix it in. Stored in an airtight container, graham crust will keep fresh for 1 week at room temperature or for 1 month in the fridge or freezer.
  • To make the Compost Cookies: Combine the butter, sugars, and corn syrup in the bowl of 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. (Do not walk away from the machine during this step, or you will risk over mixing the dough.) Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula.
  • Still on low speed, add the chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, graham crust, oats, and coffee and mix just until incorporated, about 30 seconds. Add the potato chips and pretzels and paddle, still on low speed, until just incorporated. Be careful not to over mix or break too many of the pretzels or potato chips.
  • Using a 2 3/4 oz ice cream scoop (or a 1/3 cup measure), portion out the dough onto a parchment-lined sheet pan. Pat the tops of the cookie dough domes 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—they will not bake properly.
  • Heat the oven to 375°F.
  • Arrange the chilled dough a minimum of 4 inches apart on parchment-lined sheet pans (no more than 6 large cookies per half sheet pan). Bake for 15 to 16 minutes. The cookies will puff, crackle, and spread. They should be very faintly browned on the edges yet still bright yellow in the center.
  • Cool the cookies completely on the sheet pans 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.

Notes & Nutrition

  • Chocolate Chips: The original recipe includes mini chips, but I use regular full-size chips. This works just fine.
  • Butterscotch Chips: Same as above.
  • Coffee Grounds: Do NOT use instant coffee, but any brand of ground coffee will work fine otherwise. Just make sure they are not wet, brewed coffee grounds. Use it fresh from the canister.
  • Rolled Oats: Use rolled oats, not instant oats.
  • Potato Chips: Both the Milk Bar staff and I recommend Cape Cod Potato Chips. They are thicker and more crunchy than other brands, and hold up well in the cookies. The reduced fat version works fine too!
  • Mini Pretzels: Others who make this recipe suggest chopping the pretzels. This isn’t necessary. The pretzels will break up a bit in your mixer, but you also want some large chunks and full pretzels in there. Don’t over-mix!
  • For portioning the cookies, I use this Oxo ice cream scoop which is a #12 size, with a 2 1/2 fluid ounce capacity.
  • For weighing ingredients, I recommend this Escali Primo Kitchen Scale.
  • While you can certainly make smaller cookies, you will likely need to break up the pretzels and potato chips a bit more to do so. Also bake smaller cookies for less time.
  • To freeze: Freeze the chilled, flattened cookie dough rounds in a freezer bag. Frozen cookie dough can last about 3 months in the freezer. When ready to bake, remove as many circles of dough as you desire, and thaw them in the refrigerator (you can bake from a frozen state, but I always feel like they don’t spread out as nicely). Bake as directed in the recipe. You may need an extra minute or two of baking time if the dough is partially frozen.
Adapted from Momofuku Milk Bar: A Cookbook
Servings 16.0 * calories 366 * Total Fat 18 g * Saturated Fat 10 g * Monounsaturated Fat 5 g * Polyunsaturated Fat 1 g * Trans Fat 0 g * Cholesterol 44 mg * Sodium 208 mg * Potassium 23 mg * Total Carbohydrate 50 g * Dietary Fiber 1 g * Sugars 23 g * Protein 4 g
Servings 20.0 * calories 293 * Total Fat 14 g * Saturated Fat 8 g * Monounsaturated Fat 4 g * Polyunsaturated Fat 1 g * Trans Fat 0 g * Cholesterol 35 mg * Sodium 167 mg * Potassium 18 mg * Total Carbohydrate 40 g * Dietary Fiber 1 g * Sugars 19 g * Protein 3 g
*All nutritional information is based on third-party calculations and should be considered estimates. Actual nutritional content will vary with brands used, measuring methods, portion sizes and more.*

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2 Comments

  • Reply
    Mary Kabakian
    February 23, 2020 at 2:11 pm

    5 stars
    Good stuff! Who doesn’t like cookies. But these cookies are fantastic!

  • Reply
    Camille
    February 24, 2020 at 9:34 am

    5 stars
    These were so good! Chock full of flavor!

  • Leave a Reply

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