These compost cookies, created by Christina Tosi of Momofuku Milk Bar, have a pretty surprising and impressive array of mix-ins, including ground espresso, potato chips, and pretzels. Salty, sweet, chewy, gooey, and soul satisfying.
Celebrity pastry chef Christina Tosi of Momofuku Milk Bar knows a thing or three about cookies. In particular, Compost Cookies, which are the darling of the Momofuku Milk Bar dynasty. Legend has it she learned the premise behind these chocolate-y, potato chip-y, pretzel-y, butter-y, coffee-y lovelies years ago where, with limited access to ingredients, she learned to get creative with what she had on hand. “We might not have had enough chocolate chips to make chocolate chip cookies,” Tosi recalls. “But if we threw in other mix-ins as well, the seven hundred some guests would never notice the shortage of one ingredient—and the cookies would always feel brand-new, because they were different every time. I found after many batches that my favorite Compost Cookies had my favorite snacks in them: chocolate and butterscotch chips, potato chips, pretzels, graham crackers, and coffee (grounds).” We think the stir-ins she fancies most are as sassy and savvy as any cookie stir-ins around. And we think you’ll concur.–Renee Schettler Rossi
☞ Table of Contents
- 2 sticks unsalted butter at room temperature
- 1 cup granulated sugar
- 2/3 cup tightly packed light brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons glucose or 1 tablespoon corn syrup
- 1 large 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
- 3/4 cup mini chocolate chips or chopped bittersweet chocolate
- 1/2 cup mini butterscotch chips (or substitute more chocolate)
- 1/2 cup Graham Crust or finely crushed graham crackers
- 1/3 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
- 2 1/2 teaspoons ground coffee*
- 2 cups potato chips (preferably ones that aren’t paper thin)
- 1 cup mini pretzels
- In the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, beat the butter, sugars, and glucose (or corn syrup) on medium-high for 2 to 3 minutes.
- Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula, add the egg and vanilla, and beat for 7 to 8 minutes more.
- Reduce the speed to low and add the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Mix just until the dough comes together, no more than 1 minute. (Do not walk away from the machine during this step or you risk overmixing the dough.) Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula.
- With the mixer still on low speed or with a wooden spoon, 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, just until incorporated. Be careful not to overmix the dough or you’ll break too many pretzels and potato chips.
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Using a 2 3/4-ounce ice cream scoop or a 1/3-cup measure, portion the dough onto the parchment. Pat the top of each cookie dough dome so it becomes flat. Don’t worry if the dough blobs are super close to one another. Wrap the sheet pan tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least overnight and up to 1 week. Do not bake your cookies from room temperature as they will not bake properly.
- Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C). Line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.
- Arrange the flattened, chilled blobs of cookie dough a minimum of 4 inches apart on the prepared sheets and bake for 15 to 18 minutes. During this time, the cookies will puff, crack, and spread. When done, they should be very faintly browned on the edges. If that’s not the case, give them an extra minute or so in the oven. [Editor’s Note: We can’t emphasize enough how paramount it is that you not overbake these cookies. Definitely take a peek at 15 minutes, just to be safe. The cookies will look somewhat underdone in the center, but that’s just the way you want them to look when you pull them from the oven as it ensures the ridiculously perfect ratio of crunchy to chewy in this cookie.]
- Let the the Compost Cookies® cool completely on the baking sheets before transferring to a plate for noshing or an airtight container for storage. You can keep the cookies at room temperature for up to 5 days and in the freezer for up to 1 month.
*What Kind Of Coffee Grounds To UseSee, the recipe calls for coffee grounds. To clarify, that means ground coffee. But not, according to Tosi, “the wet, sog-alicious grounds that have already brewed a pot of coffee” that you’d typically compost. Still, we respect where she’s going with “compost” in the title. And not to worry—it doesn’t make a difference what kind of coffee you use, just don’t use instant coffee.
Recipe Testers’ Reviews
These Compost Cookies are pretty wonderful. While my first thought was that the eclectic combination of ingredients would compete against one another, I found they really complemented one another. The depth of the chocolate with the sweet butterscotch chips and the addition of the salty potato chips and pretzels made for a salty-sweet cookie.
The coffee was a fantastic addition. Even though the cookie didn’t have a strong coffee flavor, the aroma of the ground coffee in the cookie was truly wonderful.
I couldn’t tell you how long these cookies would keep because they were gone the first day. This is the kind of cookie that could be a great adventure with each new batch.
Keep an eye on them while they bake. They go from underdone to overdone very quickly. I would check them at 15 minutes. This recipe lends itself to creativity. I’m thinking of throwing in peanut butter cups, various chopped candy bars, and a whole host of other snacks. These cookies do not look like a typical chocolate chip or oatmeal cookie. There’s stuff poking out from all over the cookie. It may not be the prettiest cookie, but it had a charm all its own.
These Compost Cookies fit the bill when you need something sweet but also want that hit of salt. You might not taste each of the components, but you’ll be glad they are all there.
The only problem is that you need to plan ahead—not so easy when you’ve got a craving. I’m wondering if the cookie pucks can be frozen once they’ve hardened up in the fridge so they can be baked when the moment is right. If not, at least we know the baked cookies can be frozen for up to a month. I used my favorite store-brand mini twist pretzels and Lay’s kettle chips, both of which I thought broke down too much in the mixing. Next time, I’ll use the mixer for 1 to 2 seconds and finish the mixing by hand.
I also used chopped bittersweet chocolate instead of the butterscotch and chocolate chips, so there were pools of chocolate in the cookies. I used a 1/3-cup measure to portion out the cookies resulting in 15 massive but thin cookies. I’m glad I baked 5 cookies on each of 3 cookie sheets—they spread so much that they all ran into each other just a bit. Be careful when portioning the cookies so you don’t crush the chips and pretzels even more.
These Compost Cookies were fabulous. Everyone who tried them gobbled them up right away. What I especially liked about them is the complexity—there’s so much depth of taste in these cookies. With all the unique ingredients, it’s difficult to discern all the different tastes, but they meld together so well.
The dough came together nice and easy. I thought the butterscotch chips tasted amazing in the cookie. I only had to bake the cookies for 15 minutes to get the desired end result—a crunchy, complex, delicious cookie that looks like it came from a bakery! I will be making these again!
As my husband put it, “Weird ingredients but good cookies!” What I like about this Compost Cookies recipe is that you can easily substitute some of the ingredients for whatever you have at home as long as you keep the same amount.
Very easy to make, lots of fun textures and tastes, and surprisingly good and not overly sweet.
This Compost Cookies recipe really puts in everything but the kitchen sink, but the results make for a unique and VERY addictive cookie. I only baked a few at a time simply because I didn’t want too many of these lying around the kitchen!
I finely chopped regular-size butterscotch chips before adding them to the batter and liked the contrast of flavor they provided.The graham crust is also not to be left out! I used kettle-cooked potato chips and the texture held up really well. I froze the dough for a few days, baked the dough blobs directly from the freezer, and the total cooking time was almost the same as the cookies I’d baked right away, which was 20 minutes. These cookies do spread quite a bit, so space them out as directed. The recipe made about 18 cookies using a 1/3-cup measure to scoop out the dough.
I’ve made these Compost Cookies several times now. The key is to not overcook them, which takes as little as a minute. It’s not that the cookies become inedible if overcooked. They’re still good, it’s just that you end up with a monotone crunch. If baked properly, there’s this wonderful cornucopia of textures: crisp at the edges, soft and chewy in the center, crunchy wherever there are pretzels, etc. The first time I made this recipe, I used mini semisweet chocolate chips, and, unable to find mini butterscotch chips, full-size butterscotch chips. While the cookies came out great, they were a little on the sweet side for my palate. The second time I substituted full-size bittersweet chocolate chips (I enjoy the occasional bigger hit of chocolate compared to smaller uniform hits) and, not being a huge butterscotch fan, I did away with them and substituted peanut butter chips instead, which I felt went really well with all other ingredients. This made a near perfect cookie for me.
Yum. With everything but the kitchen sink as an ingredient in these Compost Cookies, the name is appropriate, even if some of the ingredients may not even be available in your zip code. But trust me, it’s worth the hunt. Got my glucose at a local candy-making supply shop. Everything else came from the supermarket. Yes, these are time consuming, and in fact, after I made the graham crust and only used 1/4 of it, I could hardly believe that these could be worth the effort, but they are. I love the detailed directions with warnings not to over-mix the dough. And I love the salty sweet end product. Heed the warnings about chilling the dough. Even a thorough chilling left me with cookies that may have spread too much. (I had chilled mine for only 2 hours.) I used “crap-tastic” coffee grounds and Cape Cod potato chips. With an ingredient roster like that, how could an end product not live up to expectations? Don’t worry—this one does. I froze the remains of the graham cracker crust and hope to use it again soon. And don’t even consider freezing the cookies for a month—they won’t last that long!
These Compost Cookies are great! My tasters at the office were very happy, and I’ve had many requests to make more. The only substitution I made was to use corn syrup instead of glucose. You might think you need to bake them a little longer, but 18 minutes was just about perfect and allowed the middle of the cookie to be chewy and the outside to be crunchy. Next time I might try adding some nuts in place of some of the pretzels. I’d also like to make them a little smaller, but I’m afraid the ratio of chewy to crisp would be off.
Originally published September 18, 2014