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Tuesday, February 19, 2013

Cereal Milk Panna Cotta

You may have read last week that Boyfriend and I spent Valentine's Day at a baking class in Brooklyn.  Not just any baking class, we spent two hours with the baking team at Momofuku Milk bar, learning the secrets of Crack pie and cereal milk from Christina Tosi.

A few weeks ago, BF sent me a link to the baking class.  How he found it, I have no idea.  He thinks it may have been on Twitter, not sure.  Even though BF isn't really a baker, or even likes to be in the kitchen, he agreed to come with me and bake.  I signed us up and we all of a sudden had Valentine's day plans!  (I later tried to sign up for a second class only to find that they had all sold out!)

If you haven't been to Momofuku Milk bar before, you should put it on your places to visit on your next trip to New York City.  Christina Tosi is the owner/head baker and evil baking genius at Milk bar.  The treats you will find on the menu are creative, mind-boggling and delicious.  Cereal milk ice cream, cornflake marshmallow cookies, kimchi & blue cheese croissants.  Everything I've had there is crazy delicious.

BF and I arrived in Brooklyn Thursday night, ready to bake!  Well, I was ready to bake, BF was ready to help me.  Just outside the door to the Milk bar storefront in Williamsburg was a huge sign, welcoming us to the "Bake the Book Series."  We were ushered inside of the commissary - the Milk bars main baking facility.  The walls are lined with ingredients that you might not traditionally find in a bakery - cases of Ovaltine and tons of cereal.  As well as the usual stuff - giant stand mixers, a wall of ovens and bakers decked out in their kitchen whites.

Our Valentine's day class was the inaugural Momofuku class and the Milk bar team was so welcoming and excited to have us in their kitchen.  I was so excited to hear that we were the first group to be joining the team at the mixers.  Christina Tosi hollered over the crowd, climbed onto a wheeled cart piled high with baking sheets, and gave us a brief history of Milk bar.  The entire baking staff was on hand to help us in the kitchen and answer any questions we had.  They were amazing.

The class was thirty students, fifteen Beville stand mixers and lots of sugar, butter, milk and cereal.  We started out with making the Milk bar classic - Crack pie.  It's super sweet, dense pie, with a mild cereal flavor.  The recipe is in the cookbook, but the secrets are straight from the bakers.  I'll re-run this recipe in a few weeks (after BF and I finish these two pies that we still have!) and see if I remember all the little tips.  The take home tip for making crack pie - don't overmix the filling!

While our pies were baking, we made our second recipe of the night - Cereal milk.  It's a Milk bar classic and it's so crazy simple tasty.  Soak corn flakes in milk for twenty minutes.  Strain off the corn flakes then season with brown sugar and salt.  It's the "milk at the bottom of the cereal bowl."  We bottled it up and tasted a few cereal milk products, including their amazing cereal milk soft serve with corn flake crunch.  The other thing we tried out was a panna cotta made with the milk and that's what I made with my cereal milk at home!

The class finished off with a totally informal question and answer session with the whole Milk bar team.  They were an amazing bunch of people who really seemed to take pride and joy in their work.  I packed up our Crack pies and cereal milk in a carrier bag, picked up a few items before we left (glucose, dehydrated corn powder & a cookie making kit) and got my Milk Bar cookbook signed by the pastry queen herself.  It was a great Valentine's day (topped off with a stop at Crif dogs for some hot dogs) spent with my favorite guy, doing something that I love.

Thanks Milk Bar!  I can't wait to come back!

One Year Ago: Pasta with Gorgonzola Cream Sauce
Two Years Ago: English Muffins

Cereal Milk
From Momofuku Milk Bar Cookbook

The entire cookbook is given in both metric weights and traditional measures.  If you have a kitchen scale, I would totally reccommend using that rather than measuring with cups.  Before you can make the cereal milk, you have to toast the corn flakes a bit to bring out their flavor.  So I guess this recipe will take you just over 30 minutes.  About two minutes of active work.

It was reccommended to us that we use whole milk for making cereal milk.  Since I'm going to make ice cream and other desserts with this milk, it doesn't bother me to use full fat milk.  You can use a lower fat milk, but your cereal milk won't be as flavorful as the whole milk based cereal milk.

100 g (2 3/4 cups) corn flakes (not frosted flakes)
825 g ( 3 3/4 cups) cold whole milk
30 g (2 tablespoons) light brown sugar
1 g (1/4 teaspoon) kosher salt

Preheat oven to 300 F and spread the cereal on a parchment-lined baking sheet.  Bake corn flakes for 15 minutes until crunchy and lightly toasted.  Let cool completely before making cereal milk.

Pour toasted corn flakes into a large pitcher.  Pour milk over the cereal and stir vigorously.  Let the milk steep with the cereal for 20 minutes.

Strain milk through a fine sieve.  Press down on the mushy corn flakes to wring out every last bit of milk (try not to press the cereal through the sieve).  Add about half of the brown sugar and salt.  Taste.  Decide if you want to add any more sugar or salt and flavor to your own taste.

Cereal Milk Panna Cotta
From Momofuku Milk Bar Cookbook

After making this at home I had to explain what a panna cotta was to Boyfriend.  He thought it was a bread-based dessert.  I told him it was a milk-based jello dessert.  He was surprised.  This dessert is best served cold out of the fridge, topped with some fresh fruit or they suggest some banana cream!

3/4 teaspoons powdered gelatin
2 tablespoons cold water

320 g (1 1/4 cups) cereal milk
25 g (1 1/2 tablespoons, packed) light brown sugar
1 g (1/4 teaspoon) kosher salt

Sprinkle gelatin over cold water and let bloom for 5 minutes.

Heat half of the cereal milk until warmed.  Whisk in bloomed gelatin until completely dissolved.  Add remaining cereal milk, brown sugar and salt.  Pour mixture into serving glasses and transfer to the fridge.  Let set for at least 3 hours.  Enjoy your weird breakfasty dessert!
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