Tips for Compost Cookie Success — Bake-Ahead Batches

The compost cookie has nothing to do with garbage. It’s a butter-and-brown sugar cookie loaded with bits of candy and snack food. It sounds strange but it tastes divine. Invented by Christina Tosi, the sugar genius behind Momofuku Milk Bar, the cookie has become an Internet sensation. It’s no wonder. It’s a brilliant idea and a truly decadent dessert.

But what if you want to put your own spin on it? What if you don’t like the butterscotch chips that Tosi recommends, or you have some leftovers treats that you’d like to use up? The compost cookie can be your edible canvas. The recipe is easy to alter to any specifications or cravings. But do take care — a loaded compost cookie can go from delicious to disgusting in a flash.

Get the Recipe: Compost Cookies

Here are my six tips for compost cookie success:

1: The perfect compost cookie balances the four basic tastes: sweet, sour, bitter and salty. (I’m excluding umami because, well, nobody wants fish sauce in a cookie.) Add something delicious from each category and you’ll have a lovely, not-too-sweet, well-balanced treat. I like honey-roasted peanuts for sweetness, dried sour cherries for sourness, dark chocolate chunks and coffee for bitterness, and potato chips and flaky sea salt for saltiness.

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Salty snacks

Salty snacks

2: Without umami, the cookies could lack a certain depth of flavor. I’ve found that toasting some of the ingredients gives the cookies a deeper, more satisfying profile and helps keep the whole mix from becoming cloying:

3: Think about varying textures. Chocolate is oozy. Rice cereal squares are crunchy. Dried cherries and oats are chewy. A mix of textures makes for an interesting eating experience.

4: Use great-quality chocolate. I like a deep, dark bittersweet chocolate for sweet, bitter and floral notes all in one.

5: For a baked cookie texture that falls in that lovely spot between crisp and chewy, mix the dough by hand. An electric mixer adds too much air. Start with room-temperature butter and the job is easy. Mixing the dough by hand also keeps delicate add-ins, like potato chips and rice cereal squares, in better shape.

6: Avoid candies that would melt into an unappealing sugary goo, like gummy bears or jelly beans. Chocolate candies are a safer bet.

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Samantha Seneviratne is a New York-based writer, recipe developer and food stylist. She is the author of The New Sugar and Spice (Ten Speed Press), a baking cookbook combining family stories and food history with recipes that reimagine dessert as a more balanced mix of sugar and spice. She blogs about dessert at Love, Cake.

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