As promised, here is part two of the Momofuku Milk Bar and Chef Christina Tosi story:
When desserts were first offered on the menu, in the beginning, Tosi would bake and slice to order then plate up all the desserts. As line-ups began forming, it was apparent that this approach was no longer sustainable. People loved not only Chang’s food, but Tosi’s sweet creations as well! Being observant to the needs of the masses, Chang knew there was something to be gained from allowing her to expand her menu offerings. 8 1/2 years later and 6 Milk Bars throughout the United States and Canada, it’s safe to say he made a good choice in allowing her to exercise her craft with sugar, flour, butter, and eggs.
As a self- described glutton for punishment, being with Chang’s empire for almost a decade has taught her a lot. Again, her penchant for numbers shows through as her logical minded approach is what has allowed Milk Bar to flourish and continue to build momentum in its successes. For instance, when making the Cake truffles, or layered cakes, it is done on a half sheet pan. This allows for a more even distribution of heat throughout the cake. Circular cake tins run the risk of dry exteriors and uncooked or gummy interior. In addition, once the cake round is stamped out of the rectangular pan, the lower height saves her staff time from having to cut the layers horizontally to frost; she can stack them immediately. The leftovers– ‘cake scraps’ she affectionately dubs them as, are used to make the Cake Truffles. Initially, they were given to the staff as a snack; after undergoing a transformation, it’s now the ever popular spheres with creamy interior we know and are all fond of.
With 3000-4000 Cake truffles being birthed in a day and double that during Christmas time, there are a number of tips Christina shared with us. Firstly, the scraps are turned breadcrumbs with some scrunching of the hands. To form the balls, flavored whole milk is added– this time she used clear vanilla extract. When inquired about why clear was her preference, she said that vanillas such as the amber Tahitian one was missing that “je ne sais quoi ” flavour. The clear vanilla was the missing piece of the puzzle in providing that unadulterated birthday cake taste. She adds just enough milk to hydrate and tosses the crumbs together to form a moist ball. They are doled out with a truffle scoop, the perfect size to pop into your mouth. She takes some melted white chocolate and using her hands, gives each ball a good even coat. When the shell hardens, it not only provides a lovely ‘snap’ when you bite into one, but also helps to seal in the freshness. The truffles are dropped into a crumb-sprinkle mix and ready to devour.
This smart cookie is not one for having an ‘ego’ and letting relationships crumble. She gives thanks to her friend and mentor David Chang as well as her parents who supported her; as a result, she’s been able to build one heck of a sweet empire.