Milk Bar Mondays

{gluten-free} Pistachio Layer Cake – Milk Bar Mondays!

Milk Bar Mondays are back, folks!

Well… sort of. A long, long time ago, now, I joined with a group of lady bakers and bloggers to bake our way through Christina Tosi’s Milk Bar cookbook, headed up by Audra at The Baker Chick. But then, as often happens, our lives eventually got in the way of the sometimes lengthy, complicated recipes in the book; we changed schools, jobs and cities, some of us had babies (!), and our recipe priorities shifted. I’m sure we all value our blogs still for the many aspects of joy they bring to our lives, but I can’t say I’m surprised at our slow fizzle.

I wish, though, that I could have shared this cake with the other MBM ladies. Because it’s weird. Good weird, but weird. I made it for my dad’s 64th birthday, as the man adores pistachios and for many years bags of them have been stocking stuffers, random tokens of love and birthday gift toppers. So, despite the questionable potential of the cake’s general likeability, the copious amount of not-cheap pistachio nuts and pastes that went into it, and the somewhat lengthy procedure (that doesn’t feel that long, now, if I admit it to myself), this cake would be made.

And, damn, is it good. Weird good, but good.

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{gluten and dairy-free) Brownie Pie – Milk Bar Monday!

Gluten-dairy-free Milk Bar Mondays Brownie Pie Love...

Gluten-dairy-free Milk Bar Mondays Brownie Pie Love…

We’re baaaaaaaack!

Sometimes inspiration for making something sweet comes from a new pan or a road trip to someplace spooky with friends. And sometimes it comes from a group of ladies you’ve met via the interweb, and have agreed to bake your way through a cookbook with!

I’m tickled pink that the Milk Bar Mondays ladies are back after a hiatus so that we could take care of a few small things; members moving and graduating college and having babies, the little beautiful details of life like that! Every time I get wiped from the mess of internet madness that makes me want to head for the hills — where wifi and mobile service are replaced by oak trees and crickets — I stumble upon the picture of one of my beautiful lady friends with their growing belly, or growing child, or growing dreams, and my heart fills up and I am so thankful to this crazy bit of technology that’s helped me find such talented, lovely people.

And together it’s brought us on a trippy journey, baking our way through Christina Tosi’s Momofuku Milk Bar cookbook, me adapting as I can to fit my dietary needs. We’ve had some incredibly yummy ones — the Compost Cookies I can’t stop making, the decadent Chocolate Mallow Layer Cake that sent me swooning, the Blueberry and “Cream” and Chocolate-Chocolate cookies and Birthday Layer Cake and Chevre Frozen Yogurt with Beet-Lime Ganache… love.

And here we are again, with a dangerously rich chocolate Brownie Pie nestled in a graham crust. And, for you and moi, this version is gluten and dairy free.

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Chocolate Mallow Layer Cake – Gluten-Free for Milk Bar Mondays!

Chocolate Mallow Layer Cake

Chocolate Mallow Layer Cake

I interview chefs weekly for Serious Eats, a national website that covers restaurants, bars, recipes and events. Lately the subject of diminishing pastry chefs and departments has come up a bit, most prominently with Lauren Resler, a pastry chef I adore who turns out layered, whimsical desserts for her restaurants, Empellon Taqueria and Empellon Cocina here in NYC (if you haven’t been – go!).

I’ve questioned many a pastry chef as to who they think the next “it” chef of their generation would be; a Michael Laiskonis, Johnny Iuzzini or Alex Stupak on the rise. Many of the chefs I’ve asked say something simple needs to be done: someone needs to focus on reinventing classics with a deeply personal twist, something old but incredibly new as well.

As I adapted Christina Tosi’s Chocolate Malt Layer Cake into a version us gluten-free eaters can enjoy, I realized that Tosi may just be that chef. Granted I’ve never eaten one of her desserts, as they’re all loaded with gluten and dairy. But as the Milk Bar Mondays ladies and I have baked our way through her cookbook, I see that she’s doing exactly what we want someone to be doing: elevating classics into something so over the top that, like pastry chef Stephen Collucci said when trying her Cereal Milk Ice Cream, “it’s so good it’s stupid”.

This cake is so good it’s stupid.

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Gluten-Free Blueberry and Cream Cookies – Milk Bar Mondays!

Blueberries-and-Cream-Cookies2

One of the many things I love about our Milk Bar Mondays swap is that it helps me branch out with the kinds of baked goods I make. This cookie is a perfect example – I wasn’t totally wowed by them, but I gave a bunch away for my New Years presents (I’ve decided that I’m giving cookies away in January instead of for Christmas, and it’s my new favorite tradition), and tossed some at my roommate.

They got rave reviews. Continue reading

Peanut Butter Cookies – Milk Bar Mondays

I walk into my kitchen to get a cup of tea and Christmas fills my nostrils. Maybe it’s the strains of Love Actually coming from the living room where my roommate is wiling away the Saturday afternoon. Maybe it’s the fact that now that Halloween is over I can officially start planning menus and dreaming of trees. Maybe it’s needing something to distract me from Hurricane Sandy coverage in NYC. Maybe it’s these things and…

peanut butter.

Every year for as long as I can remember, I’ve made those classic little peanut butter cookies with a Hershey kiss on top (even though I’ve never freed them of gluten so haven’t been able to eat a bite). Out of all my holiday collection, they are the most requested and I make them by the hundreds…

Our Milk Bar Monday group took a little hiatus for the past few weeks to give space for Audra Wahab to be renamed Audra Fullerton and Krissy Winnick to welcome baby Ezekiel Vincent Winnick into the world!!! But now we’re back in our kitchens – though with slightly diminished numbers – and still determined to bake our way through Christina Tosi’s Milk Bar cookbook. Continue reading

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