Milk Bar Mondays: Compost Cookies

This recipe may not be everyone’s cup of compost tea.

But if you’re feeling like taking a walk on the culinary wild side, courtesy of Christina Tosi, continue reading.

Or if you happen to like chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, and really buttery, rich cookies, with fabulously diverse texture, and delicious little surprises tucked into each and every bite, then bear with me.

Among other ingredients, Tosi calls for potato chips, ground coffee, and mini-pretzels in her compost cookies recipe.

I used potato chips and coffee, but substituted Cap’n Crunch cereal because I didn’t have mini-pretzels but had Captain.

In the true spirit of composting, and as she advocates in the cookbook, use what you have.

She said that she always makes the best batches of compost cookies at her mother’s house because her mother has the most random assortment of odds and ends and that’s what tends to make for the most delicious varieties of compost cookies.

Tosi does not skimp on butter, ever. These cookies are heavy. As in fatty, butter-laden, filled with copious amounts of heavy, rich, butter fat.

You’ll be able to feel the butter on your lips after one of these. A true sign that you’re either eating at your grandmother’s house or have just made a Tosi recipe.

You’d think after reading the ingredients that the potato chips would dominate the flavor but instead, they add crunch, texture, and a slightly salty element to the cookies, helping to balance the sweet. It’s that sweet ‘n salty combo.

The Cap’n Crunch and whole rolled oats also gave these a diverse and varied texture. Texture is key for me. I always prefer food that is chewy and chunky to something smooth and homogenous.

I know some people say ewww.

I say I’ll try anything once!

And I’m glad I did because these were fabulous.

The flavor of the butterscotch chips was quite prevalent and I love butterscotch.

Tosi said in the cookbook that you get bonus points if you have a potato chip that’s standing upright in a baked cookie.

Does this count?


Compost Cookies – Adapted from Christina Tosi’s Momofuku Milk Bar Cookbook

Makes 8 enormous cookies as written below (1/3 cup raw dough per each cookie)

Recipe notes: I followed Tosi’s recipe in large part from what was written in the cookbook, with the most significant change being that I halved her original recipe as it was written (I did not desire 15 to 20 monster cookies and these are baked 4 to a sheet and I didn’t want to be baking and babysitting my oven for hours as I waited for cookies to bake and then for sheets to fully cool, etc). Less significantly, I used corn syrup rather than glucose, omitted salt, used graham cracker crumbs directly from the box rather than first making a batch of graham crust (a very significant time saver), omitted mini pretzels and used Cap’n Crunch cereal instead. Other notes are listed after each ingredient.

1/2 cup butter, softened

1/2 cup granulated (white) sugar

1/3 cup light brown sugar, tightly packed

1/2 tablespoon light corn syrup, i.e. Karo syrup in the baking aisle (her full recipe is 2 tablespoons glucose or 1 tablespoon corn syrup and I halved the corn syrup value)

1/2 extra-large egg (Tosi calls for all baking to be done with large eggs but I only had extra-large eggs. In order to use half an egg, I cracked one egg into a dish, beat it with a fork, and used half in the recipe)

1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup + 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour (this is approximately half of her amount of 1 1/3 cups flour)

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

1/8 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 teaspoon kosher salt (I omitted)

scant 1/2 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips (Tosi calls for 3/4 cup mini chocolate chips but I did not have mini chips)

1/4 cup butterscotch chips

1/4 cup graham cracker crumbs (she has a separate recipe for Graham Crust, which is to be made first and then a partial amount it to be used in these cookies, but I simply used graham cracker crumbs)

2 heaping tablespoons old-fashioned rolled oats (half of her value of 1/3 cup)

1 teaspoon ground coffee (her value for the full recipe is 2 1/2 teaspoons of coffee and I am glad I did not add any more than I did. I love coffee but this lends a pronounced flavor. If you are not a coffee lover, think twice about using it or use a tiny pinch, not a teaspoon)

1 cup potato chips (I used store-brand ruffled chips; use a good, hearty, ruffled chip and not a baked or flimsy chip)

1/2 cup Cap’n Crunch cereal (she used mini pretzels)

Combine the butter, sugars, corn syrup in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and cream together on medium high for 2 to 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, add the egg and vanilla, and beat for 7 to 8 minutes (yes that long).

Reduce the speed to low and add the flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Mix just until the dough comes together, no longer than 1 minute. Do not walk away from mixer or overmix. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.

Still on low speed, add the chocolate chips, butterscotch chips, graham cracker crumbs, oats, coffee, and mix until just incorporated, about 30 seconds. Add the potato chips and cereal (or other add-ins) and mix on low speed until just incorporated, taking care not to overmix or break too many of the chips or cereal pieces.

Using a 1/3 cup measure ( or 2 3/4 ounce ice cream scoop- yes this is huge) portion out the dough onto a parchment lined baking sheet. I portioned it onto a plastic-lined plate. After portioning the dough, pat the top of the cookie dough domes flat. Wrap the sheet pan (or plate) tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, or up to 1 week. Do not bake your cookies from room temperature – they will not bake properly. I waited 36 hours before baking.

Heat the oven to 375F. Arrange the chilled dough a minimum of 4 inches apart (basically you are baking 4 cookies to a sheet for the average home-baker) on parchment or Silpat-lined sheet pans. Bake for 16 minutes (Christina calls for 18 minutes but mine were very crispy on the edges at 16 and I wish I would have pulled them at 14-15 minutes as I prefer underbaked cookies). The cookies will puff, crackle, and spread. After 16 minutes, they should be very faintly browned on the edges yet still bright yellow in the center. Give them an extra minute or so if that’s not the case. Note that because of the high butter content in these cookies, they will be prone to burning around the edges; watch them closely.

Cool the cookies completely on the sheet pans before transferring to an airtight storage container. At room temperature the cookies will keep fresh for 5 days; in the freezer, they will keep for 1 month.


Gather your smorgasboard and Tosi encourages people to use what they have on hand.

Don’t have butterscotch chips but instead have peanut butter or white chocolate chips, toffee bits, or M&Ms, I’d use those.

Don’t like coffee? Skip it.

As I noted in the recipe section, although I do love coffee, adding ground coffee to the dough does change the flavor of the baked cookies.

Not in a wow, I just ate my coffee kind of way, but in hmmm, I think there may have been some coffee in these but in a can’t quite put my finger on the flavor kind of way.

I followed her exact instructions for creaming the butter and sugars for 2-3 minutes.

Then adding the egg and ceaming for another 7-8 minutes, minimum.

10+ minutes of creaming before proceeding

Although the dough got really fluffy and puffy after all that beating and creaming, the resulting cookies were not especially fluffy and puffy. Cookies with a high butter ratio tend not to be puffy.

The one thing they are is huge.

One-third cup of raw dough, per cookie.

My normal cookie scoop is a 1 1/2 tablespoon measure. Tosi calls for a 1/3 cup measure. She likes living large.

That’s the feather in my cap upright potato chip in my gigantic covers-most-of-a-salad-plate-sized cookie.

I labeled the composted goodies in these bowling balls of dough using PicMonkey as I mentioned here and can now vouch for the ease and fun of it.

Almost as much fun as eating one of these.

Related Christina Tosi Recipes:

Cinnamon Bun Pie – I made the 10 minute cheater’s version and highly recommend it. Best way to doctor up a can of cinnamon rolls, ever.

Crack Pie– as addictive, decadent and fabulous as the name sounds. Labor-intensive, but worth it.

Buttery Toasted Cap’n Crunchies – I used her Cornflake Crunch idea as inspiration and the result is buttery, toasted cereal that tastes like one big bowl of buttered toast pieces. If you like buttered toast, this is your recipe.

Related Composting Use-What-You-Have Recipes:

Double Chocolate Caramel Corn & Cocoa Rice Krispies Candy Bars (No-Bake with Vegan & GF options) – I made these over Christmas in Aruba when I was trying to clear out all my partially opened baggies of baking supplies from holiday baking before we had to return home.

Magic Eight Bars -Substitute what you have and like

Do you “compost” in the kitchen with your baking projects and recipes?

I’ve posted here that I have so many little bits and pieces, and baggies of half-used ingredients, that any time I can make something that’s a “toss it all in” recipe and clear out some cupboard space and use up odds and ends, I do.

Most of the baking recipes I have are very flexible and have plenty of leeway to get creative based on what you have on hand and enjoy in your desserts.

In savory recipes, the sauces, condiments, herbs, vegetables, what needs to be used, what’s a space hog in the refrigerator, help determine what I make. This egg frittata and this cheezy vegetable casserole are compost-style recipes based on what I had and needed to use up and can be tweaked as desired.

Would you ever put potato chips or cereal or coffee into cookies? Have you ever baked or made something “crazy”?

I talked about this in my Crazy Baking post that I wrote immediately after baking these cookies but before I could post about them because this post is part of my Milk Bar Monday’s baking group.

As I said there, one person’s “crazy” is another person’s normal. Don’t knock it til you try it and be a little adventurous are good words to live by.

See what the other ladies in the Milk Bar Mondays group made and what they composted into their cookies:

Audra from The Baker Chick

Cassie from Bake Your Day

Erin from Big Fat Baker

Jacqueline from The Dusty Baker

Krissy from Krissy’s Creations (hosting the group this week and full version of Tosi’s recipe is on her site)

Meagan from Scarletta Bakes

Nicole from Sweet Peony

Follow the Milk Bar Monday ladies on Twitter

Have a great week!

109 comments on “Milk Bar Mondays: Compost Cookies”

  1. Whoa mama, that’s a lot of yummy ingredients! These look so delicious, Averie. A nice treat for those sinful days when I forget about swimsuit season. ;) Thanks for sharing!

  2. I love that diagram! So detailed and looks delish. I’d try the compost cookie…

  3. I’ve just read several blog posts about these cookies in the last week or so. I am…..intrigued. I don’t think I could do 1/3 cup of dough per cookie though. My body would reject it. Although, that is probably about the size of most bakery cookies. My scoop is about a tablespoon. Mini cookies mean I can eat more of them. :D

    • The crazy part is, now I know that Panera Bread, Einstein’s Bagels, Starbucks, etc. must use 1/3 cup of dough per cookie because this is what they are: bakery-sized cookies. My grandma made what you call “mini” cookies her entire life. A bakery sized cookie is seriously like 4x the size of cookie I grew up eating and about 3x as big as my usual as evidenced by the scoops in that one picture.

  4. How fun are these! I love the idea of a recipe that uses up the last little bits in my pantry. Great swap with the Captain Crunch :)

  5. I hate potato chips so I won’t be adding them to my cookies any time soon, but it’s kind of intriguing. I’m not a huge sweet/salty combo person. I prefer my sweet with my sweet, with a bit more sweet on top. ;)

  6. My oh my. Potato chips in cookies!? It’s the ultimate junk food! I love it!

  7. Not something I would make but these are aptly named :-)

  8. My dad makes a “potato chip cookie” that gets coated in powdered sugar while it’s still warm. Epitome of sweet/salty indulgence!

  9. Woah. Ya compost in blowin my mind, Averie! I LOVE the flavors you went with, and really love the cookie ‘map’ that you posted – just brilliant. What a great recipe – I bet these went FAST in your house, as they would in mine. Have a great day!!

    • One of the most fun little creative endeavors I had was making that map. Cheap thrills baby :) Picmonkey is my new BFF for stuff like that.

      And yes, they went fast! Yours are gorgeous, as per usual, lovely photography! Your lighting is always…divine.

  10. be still my heart! cap’n crunch is my fave!!! i can’t wait to bake these cookies!

  11. Love the compost cookie! My sister and I both have the Milk Bar cookbook and she made these for my mom’s birthday last month. I ate so many and they were the size of my head. So worth it though :) I plan to make them this weekend for my husband’s birthday gathering with some friends…I hope they turn out! Yum!

  12. Those photos are incredible, and I’m sure the cookies are, too! Coffee is quite an interesting ingredient in cookies… I would be game to throw in some potato chips :)

  13. I’ve never put potato chips in cookies, but I’ve had coffee in various things. I think it accentuates the “chocolate taste”, it adds depth to the taste.
    The craziest thing I did recently is the black bean brownies, it actually turned out really good, I was proud of it :) You may find the recipe at my website for whoever is interested in baking healthy :D

  14. My aunt used to make potato chip cookies when I was a kid. They had potato chips and chocolate chips in them and the salty/sweet thing was delicious. I had forgotten all about potato chip cookies until I saw this post, and I will be making compost cookies soon. They look and sound fantastic. I have to say, your photography is just beautiful.

  15. Just made a little batch of protein fudge to go with my banana soft serve. I’m out of Sun Warrior so I used half whey and pea protein powders. The pea protein is too flour-y on its own (better for baking and doesn’t taste like peas), and the whey gets too sticky on its own (hard to stir and too rubbery for baking). Both are unflavored so I used cocoa powder and a little espresso powder too. Healthy fudge ‘n ice cream–yum!

    • Good to know about the fudge. I am not a fan of pea to drink in smoothies but you’re right, it’s probably better in baking. And good thinking to combine the best of both of the whey & pea and make fudge with them!

  16. That cookie map is awesome! Love it.

    I love to compost my veggies and beans into a nice big pot of vegan chili. As a matter of fact, I just did last Friday, and you can read about it here! It’s just so easy to make and there really is no wrong combination.

  17. I LOVE the salty/sweet combination, but I’m not always crazy about crunchy textures in baked goods so I’d probably leave out the cereal/pretzels….that is, if I can successfully veganize them at all! (Actually, it doesn’t look TOO hard to make these vegan. We’ll see!)

    • The butter is the only thing, really, just cream the HECK out of the vegan butter you use and being that I only use 1/2 of an egg in the entire batch, a flax egg will probably work just fine…a dollop of PB will work too, I’d surmise. And the cereal softened but didn’t become mushy. I hate that. Softened more than pretzels do when baked but not blah-boring soft.

  18. Those look amazing! Espeically the potato chip addition!

    There is a fruit and nut trailmix from Costco that we love, but we always end up with leftover raisins, peanuts, and banana chips. I didn’t want to throw them away so I chopped them up and added them to oatmeal cookies with mint/chocolate chips. I call them my trailmix cookies. They turned out great. I want to make another batch of ompost cookies, like NOW!

  19. I’ve never experimented myself (as far as baking) with potato chips, but they make for a great compliment to anything sweet. Back in highschool, after soccer games on the road, we’d stop for dinner at whatever decent fast food place we passed. If we stopped at Wendy’s, we’d all get a Frosty and french fries. Now, I think “Wow, we were fatties…” But at the time, the salty french fries dipped in a Frosty was the perfect combination. These days, I love pretzels paired with something sweet. Luna’s latest creation, the peanut honey pretzel bar, is divine. Something about salty and sweet. It’s SO GOOD. And coffee definitely adds something, depth I guess, to chocolate recipes. I’ve seen it as an ingredient but never used it myself.

    Cooking with cereal…I’ve used crushed Fiber One as a coating for “fried” fish. It was really good. Fiber One is great for faux frying. Toss you protein in egg whites, then roll it around in crushed Fiber One. Then bake it. Crispy and crunchy! A great alternative to oily fried methods.

  20. Yum! I swear, add just about anything to cookie dough and you’re bound for a tasty treat. I love all the action in these cookies!

  21. I love how flexible this recipe is, what a packed cookie!!

  22. Love all of the add ins!

  23. I made these… and tried to put hot Cheetos in them. They went stale…

  24. I would skip the coffee, but I LOVE your addition of the cereal!! These cookies would be gone in a heartbeat in my house!

  25. I made these many years ago when Momofuku came out with their original book and I saw the recipe online. I didn’t have some of the add-ins so I used Ritz Crackers, Goldfish Crackers and some of the chips and stuff. I don’t think the recipe I had included the graham cracker crust at all. I don’t remember making it or using it. Anyway, I thought they were really fun cookies and I ate 90% of the batch. I now want to make them again. Thanks for reminding me about them, as did your friends at some of the other blogs.

    I love Milk Bar Mondays!

    • The recipe calls for making the much more elaborate graham cracker crumb, baking that all up, then using that inside the cookies but I didn’t have a desire to do all that :) The graham cracker crumbs outta the box worked just fine and if you omitted them, clearly not a biggie. They amounted to 1/4 cup or so, easily replaceable with other dry ingredients, flour, etc. LMK what you end up making!

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