There are quite a few cookbooks out there that promise recipes from favorite restaurants and bakeries. Many of them deliver exactly that very well, but for others the recipes don’t translate quite as well to the home kitchen. Milk & Cookies: 89 Heirloom Recipes from New York’s Milk & Cookies Bakery is a cookbook that uses this same concept, but definitely falls into the former category. It is packed with recipes that taste like they’re bakery quality but look and feel as homey as anything your grandmother ever made.
This cookbook is one that you can really be creative with because it has a slightly unusual format. Rather than giving readers a selection of cookies to choose from, several chapters in the book set you up with recipes for basic cookie doughs and variations that can turn them into all kinds of different cookies. This makes it a great jumping off point for creating your own cookie flavor combinations – and knowing that the doughs will work with different types of add-ins and a variety of flavorings will help even novice bakers put together some new favorites. Of course, in addition to these basic doughs, there are also plenty of ideas for cookies that you won’t need to put your own spin on, so if you aren’t in the mood to try to come up with your own, there are still plenty of great ideas to choose from.
The recipes are clearly written and easy to follow along with. The thing that will really draw you in are the beautiful photographs that illustrate the book. The cookies look good enough to eat – and they all have the appeal of a homemade cookie that is fresh from the oven, so they look both accessible and very tempting. The introduction will give you plenty of tips on creating a perfect cookie dough, but it is very easy to just jump right into the chapter of your choice and start trying out the recipes for yourself.
MaureenJuly 11, 2011
Sounds like a great cookbook for people who love to bake. Just give me the basics and let me go wild. I’ll have to look for it!
Felice - All That's Left Are The CrumbsJuly 11, 2011
I have been debating whether I should go ahead and purchase this book. It has been on my wishlist for a while, but I have so many cookbooks. I think you have helped me make up my mind that I need this book. I love a cookbook that has beautiful photographs.
JulianneJuly 13, 2011
I have this book and yes, its design is very attractive. As well as having variations on the basic cookie dough recipes (vanilla, double chocolate, oatmeal, peanut butter) there are also quite a few other recipes for different types of cookies and brownies.
I have to say that I tried the vanilla cookie dough last weekend and it was a nightmare. I make vegan versions of cookies and never have any problem in getting good results, but this one was a totally different story. I can only assume that you absolutely must use butter in the recipe. I swapped it for vegan margarine (which is spreadable right from the fridge) and the “dough” was actually more like a batter. It took an extra 7oz flour to get a dough I could roll/scoop and unsurprisingly the resulting cookies were not good!
AnitaJuly 16, 2011
I was so looking forward to baking from this book, as I loved the cookies on our last trip to NYC. But I just finished my first try with the oatmeal blueberry cookies, and I had the same problem as Julianne. The dough was more like batter, and the cookies look like lace cookies. I even tried refrigerating the batter overnight (which shouldn’t really change things much, but I hoped that the oatmeal would somehow absorb some of the fat). Same problem.
I used a scale, not measuring cups, but for peace of mind I also measured the sugars, and they were close. However, I just now (as I was writing this) weighed 3 c of oats and I see that it weighs 12.5 oz (and not 9 oz as the recipe states)! And 1.5 c of flour weighs 7.7 oz and not 6 oz as the recipe states! That could have (obviously) been the problem, and I will try to add 3.5 oz oats to the oatmeal dough.
And I will try the vanilla dough and use the measurement and not the weight and will report back.
AnitaJuly 16, 2011
Regarding the Oatmeal dough (being more like batter than dough): Adding 3.5 oz of oats and 1.5 oz flour to the already made dough worked. The cookies look as they should look.
I tried the vanilla basic dough with the Milk Chocolate Orange recipe. I used the volume measurements and not the weights, but I still had to add about 1/3c flour to make it dough and not batter. The Grand Marnier probably added to the problem, and the basic recipe alone might have needed only 1/4c more flour.
I will try the Peanut Butter dough and the Dark Chocolate Base dough soon. Just by looking at the recipes, the Peanut Butter looks like it will be a problem (low proportion of flour to butter and peanut butter), but the Dark Chocolate looks like a more “normal” ratio.
I love the cookbook for the ideas it gives you for the combinations and the base doughs, but you should use the volume measurements because you can’t trust the weights.
Perhaps someone could use a Test Kitchen and fix the Second Edition of the book.
AnitaJuly 17, 2011
OK, one last post. I made the 2 base doughs and cookies with them as I said I would above.
First, I made the peanut butter dough and the Dark Chocolate Peanut Butter cookies. The recipe was as much of a mess as I suspected. The proportion of 3! sticks of butter and 1c peanut butter to only 1 1/2 c flour is just crazy, and the dough was again batter. However, I overcompensated with the flour (nearly doubled it) , and my cookies turned out too floury. That’s the problem when you can’t trust the recipe and don’t know what the dough should feel like. I think if I ever try the peanut butter dough again I’ll just cut out a stick of the butter. That has to be simply a typo! The lack of white sugar makes them not-too-sweet, which is interesting, but they somehow lack flavor (hard to tell though, with all that flour I added). Even with the salted peanuts that I added with the cookies recipe. Probably should have added a bit more salt (1/4 t is a pretty small amount). I will probably sprinkle a little Kosher salt on top when I bake the rest of the dough.
I had much better luck with the Dark Chocolate Base Dough and the Mocha Latte cookies using it. The dough (which only calls for 1c (2 sticks) of butter) came out like I would expect – dough, not batter. The proportion butter/flour+cocoa plus the 2 sugars is a classic one, and I had a good feeling about it. This is my favorite dough (probably because it worked), although I think next time I’ll add more cocoa.
Good luck everyone!
SusiJuly 23, 2011
@Anita: I had the same problem with the oatmeal dough. My Cookies came out terribly flat. After reading the recipe again I thought that maybe my problem was that I did not finish the dough by hand as suggested. By doing so I would have added some extra flour on the work surface which I didn’t. Did you do that in your first try?
LisaDecember 4, 2011
What a disappointment! So glad I checked this out of the library before purchase, the recipes do not work at all. I should not have to be working out a recipe from a book! I have been baking cookies for a long time let me tell you, this is is better eye candy than a cookbook!