I’m a pretty big fan of David Chang’s Momofuku restaurants. I even cooked through his entire cookbook! It’s no surprise then, that I thought I would be equally enthralled with the sweets from Momofuku Milk Bar, the dessert outpost of Momofuku. Unfortunately, when I visited the take-out Midtown version a couple of years ago, I was far from jumping with joy.
I was most excited to try the real Crack Pie. Christina Tosi, the pastry chef at Milk Bar, has created a cult following for her pie. She’s been on Martha Stewart, in countless magazines, and her recipe is all over the internet. I made a version of her Crack Pie using the recipe printed in the LA Times and it was seriously delicious.
The pie is a wonder of sweet and salty: oatmeal cookie crust with a sweet, gooey, butterscotch-like filling. I thought, if my homemade version is this good, the real thing is going to be even better! I guess I hyped it up in my head a little too much because ultimately, I was disappointed.
The filling was completely different from the filling in my homemade Crack Pie. It was more of a tooth-achingly sweet cornstarch-y custard as opposed to the gooey, butterscotch-y filling I was expecting from the LA Times version.
The bigger problem was: I didn’t like any of the things I tried at Milk Bar. Maybe it’s because the Milk Bars all get their goods delivered from the Milk Bar factory, or maybe it’s because baked goods never do well when scaled to massive commercial production, but the treats that were supposed to be whimsical and delightful fell flat for me.
My disappointment with the real deal Crack Pie ran so deep that I wasn’t even excited when Mike gave me the Momofuku Milk Bar cookbook. I had been looking forward to it since making the Pie at home, but after tasting Tosi’s real version, I wasn’t too interested in the recipes. They looked too long, too convoluted and just too sweet. Even so, the book was an excellent read. I love books that give you a little insider peek how how a professional kitchen works.
Tosi has a great story: she started out as a being a Jill of all trades for Chang, but her love for sweet stuff prevailed and now she’s a crazy famous pastry chef. I have mad respect for her. She took what she loved, ran with it and became incredibly successful.
I figured I owed it to her to try out one of her recipes. I started out small and made the simplest thing in the book: liquid cheesecake. Apparently Tosi has a thing for barely-baked cheese cake. She came up with this recipe to layer with her carrot cake, but it tastes delicious on its own, in parfaits, or with fruit.
The cheesecake is baked until barely set, so that it’s still pliable to spread or pipe. We had some in a parfait with some crushed Ritz crackers and raspberries and it was delicious. I also piped it into some raspberries for a one-bite treat. And, I must confess, I kind of did what Tosi herself does – ate it straight from the pan with a spoon.
This recipe was a definite success in my books. I’m definitely going to be taking a close look at the rest of the recipes!
Momofuku Milk Bar Liquid Cheesecake Recipe from The Momofuku Milk Bar Cookbook
- 8 ounces cream cheese
3/4 cups sugar
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons milk
Heat the oven to 300F. Put the cream cheese in the bowl of a stand mixer and paddle on low speed for 2 minutes. Add the sugar and mix for 1-2 minutes until the sugar has been incorporated. Scrape down the sides as needed.
In a bowl, whisk together the cornstarch and salt. Add the milk and egg and whisk until smooth. With the mixer on medium-low speed, stream in the cornstarch-egg mixture. Paddle for 3-4 minutes or until the mixture is smooth and loose.
Line the bottom and sides of a 6×6 inch baking pan with plastic wrap. Pour the batter into the pan and bake for 15 minutes. Gently shake the pan. The cheesecake should be firmer and more set near the edges and jiggly and loose in the centre. If it needs it, give it 5 more minutes, check on it again and then another 5 more minutes if needed. If it rises more than a 1/4 inch or begins to brown, take it out immediately. I ended up baking mine for 25 minutes.
Cool completely to finish the baking process. Once cool, the cheese cake can be kept for 1 week in the fridge. Enjoy spread on your favourite cookies, with fruit, cake or just on it’s own.