I’m not your average gal.
I never wanted a pony, or to be a pretty princess when I was little. Instead, I dreamed of Cookies, Cookies, Cookies (working name), a bakery of my own that would leave me happily covered in flour and sugar, morning to midnight, and, if I played my cards right, an unconscionable amount of raw cookie dough. Chubby and sporting the finest bowl cut the local cuttery could trim, I would turn cardboard boxes into cash registers and bakery cases, practice making change with Monopoly money (you gotta know how to make the sale!), and concoct gluey batters and sprinkle-ridden doughs to feed to my stuffed animals (they were BIG fans). As I got a little older, my legs grew longer, and my dreams stretched too. I imagined a fun but simple place that brought people happiness and anchored their morning commute or evening stroll, a place where anyone could stop by, say hi, and eat cookies.
And, by some stroke of insane luck, universes aligning, honest-to-goodness hard work, and practical kitchen experience, that’s exactly what happened. I opened Momofuku Milk Bar when I was twenty-seven, nearly six years ago. And in barely enough time to blink (and still not yet enough time to sleep) it has grown from one tiny bakery to a bigger thing than I ever imagined, all anchored by an 11,000-square-foot kitchen that sends cookies around the world and stocks six shops in New York where people stop by, say hi, and eat cookies.
I can never quite put my finger on exactly how or why it all happened. All I remember is a onetime admission into the school of hard knocks, bakery edition. Dave Chang pushing me out of the nest and more or less tricking me into opening the first Milk Bar was also probably a big help too.
Funny thing is, when asked just how I got to where I am, I know the answer is pretty simple: I. Have. No. Clue.
When did it all begin? Shrugging my shoulders, I’ll tell you it’s always existed—I’ve always been working up to this moment. My entire life, all I have ever tried to do was to be me and stay me, Cookies, Cookies, Cookies and all.
The Greta (Sugar Cookie Squares)
Makes about 2 Dozen 2-inch Squares
I was raised on these sugar cookie squares. My fondest memories of them involve receiving disposable 9 × 13-inch pans of them once a week (that’s 3.43 cookies a day) when I was away at college (and I didn’t have a kitchen of my own to bake in). What a mom!
Even after I opened Milk Bar, my mom still sent me these sugar cookie squares, direct to the bakery. They became so legendary we called them “Greta cookies” or “the Greta,” because you can’t call a sugar cookie a sugar cookie in a bakery; it’s just too confusing. Also, the difference between a sugar cookie and a Greta sugar cookie square is huge.
Their flavor is simple, but just as you think you’re about to be underwhelmed, wham! You’re hooked. Thanks, Greta.
1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus more for the pan
2 cups sugar
2 large eggs
1/2 cup grapeseed or other neutral oil
1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla extract
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup whole milk
THE CINNAMON SUGAR
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1. Heat the oven to 350°F. Grease a 9 × 13-inch baking pan.
2. Combine the butter and sugar in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and cream on high until homogenous, about 3 minutes. Add the eggs, oil, and vanilla and mix until just combined, about 1 minute.
3. Add the flour, salt, and baking soda, mixing until just combined, about 30 seconds. Mix in the milk until just combined, about 30 seconds.
4. Spread the dough in an even layer in the prepared pan. Mix together the sugar and cinnamon in a small bowl and sprinkle evenly over the cookie dough.
5. Bake for 20 to 25 minutes for a slightly underbaked cookie (which is how I like it), or for another 3 to 5 minutes if you’re a firm cookie fan. Cool completely in the pan before cutting into squares. For storage instructions, see page 47. Not a cinnamon sugar fan? Substitute any classic, radioactive, or themed sprinkle in its place to top the cookie slab just before baking.
Copyright © 2015 by Christina Tosi, Author of Momofuku Milk Bar. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.