Momofuku-Inspired, Almost-Gluten Free Corn Cookies

I am not a good baker.  I will admit that.  I hate measuring.  I don’t time things.  I am imprecise.  I am messy.  But sometimes I just really like baking, and I figure that over the course of decades I will eventually learn enough of the science to get OK at the whole improvisation thing.  (On the flip side, my improvisation works just fine for non-baking cooking.  I make some pretty good stir fries and casseroles and soups.)

DC got its first Momofuku this past weekend, including a Milk Bar, which hubby and I happened to hit up on its opening night.  We had been to the Milk Bar and the Momofuku in New York and were familiar with the offerings. (CAN WE TALK ABOUT THE MUSHROOM BUNS???)  The last time we went in NYC, we had several cookies, and I wasn’t blown away with them.  Good, but not the best cookies of my life.  They are very chewy.  Maybe too chewy?  And I think the compost cookie tastes vaguely of trash… is that the point?  (Definitely caused by the coffee grounds.)  So this time I ordered “crack pie” soft serve with fudge.  Enough said.

We also ordered a few cookies to go, because well, we had waited in line for two hours so we thought we ought to.  One of our selections was the corn cookie, and it was my favorite of the bunch.  It also reminded me that we had a giant tupperware of frozen corn in the freezer from our crop share this summer.   Milk Bar uses a freeze-dried corn powder in many of its products, including the corn cookie, so I decided to dry some of our frozen corn and see what I could make.  (Milk Bar does sell its corn powder, but I ain’t a cheater.)

I clearly have no clue how to make freeze dried corn powder.  So I just made it up.  I took the frozen corn and spread it evenly in one layer on a parchment-lined cookie sheet.

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I put it in the oven at 270 degrees.  I checked it a few times and shook it around and scraped off pieces with a spatula.  I pulled it out when it was starting to brown and seemed pretty dry.  OK, so far so good.  Not exactly freeze-dried and not even totally dry, but this seemed workable.  I looked on the internet for ideas and finally decided to just stick with the cookie concept.  My starting point was Christina Tosi’s Milk Bar corn cookie recipe, available at The Kitchn:

2 sticks of butter, at room temperature
1 1/2 cups sugar
1 egg
1 1/3 cups flour
1/4 cup corn meal
2/3 cup freeze-dried corn powder
3/4 teaspoon baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt

And then I started eliminating/modifying things.  Sugar?  Not going to happen.  Flour?  Oatmeal is close enough, right?  How about a little apple sauce?  Coconut goes with corn, right?

Here is what went into my first batch (sorry for the imprecision!)

In food processor:

  • About a cup of regular oats and about a quarter cup of coconut flour and a few spoonfuls of corn meal
  • Once ground, add about a cup of baked/dried corn kernels.

In separate bowl:

  • 1 egg
  • 1 single serving of unsweetened apple sauce
  • 8 oz of butter, melted in the microwave (whew that’s a lot of butter–but fat is “in” now, right?)
  • 7 packets of stevia (I knew these would be gross if I didn’t add enough sugar)
  • 1/4 tsp of baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp of baking powder (I have learned that you do not want to mess around with the baking soda/baking powder ratios, so this is the one thing I will measure)
  • several grinds of the pink himalayan salt mill

The batter was wet, but I was OK with that because I was hoping for the thin chewy consistency rather than puffed up cakey cookies.

I spooned out a few dollops for the test batch and cooked them for about 15 minutes at 350 degrees.

They came out looking wonderful!!!

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Unfortunately, they were way, way too crumbly.  I think this was caused by all the butter and/or the lack of gluten.  The internet later told me that it is really hard to get coconut flour cookies to get chewy….

Undeterred, I added in an extra egg to help bind things and put in another test batch.  They were not as pretty but more cohesive.

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I did think they were a little greasy, so I went back to the Google machine.  It suggested adding some flour, which I hadn’t done for the first two batches, relying only on the corn meal, oats, and coconut flour.  I added just a few spoonfuls of organic wheat flour and stirred up the mixture to help develop a little gluten.  (If I had wanted to keep this gluten free, I suppose I could have added more ground oats or corn meal.)  When I scooped the batter out, I flattened the cookies a little bit with my finger to try to get the look I was originally shooting for.  The final result ended up fine, although still not the thin, chewy cookie I had originally been shooting for.  BUT VERY EDIBLE!!! 

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Do you have any tips for my baking adventures?  Anything I should be trying out at Milk Bar?  What is your favorite source for healthier baking tips and recipes? 

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