Christina Tosi turns mistakes into magic in ‘Milk Bar Life,’ out now

Christina Tosi keeps very, very busy. She is the chef, owner and founder of Milk Bar, the beloved, quirky/creative sister bakery of the Momofuku restaurant group. She is currently filming “MasterChef Junior,” the hit cooking show with kid contestants for which she is the newest judge. Her cookbook, “Milk Bar Life: Recipes and Stories,” is out now.

And all the while she keeps creating new trend-setting treats and eats all the time.

You’d think she has little time (or patience) for mistakes. But with Christina Tosi, there are no mistakes, just opportunities.

Before she opened Milk Bar and started ruling the world of adventurous baking, Tosi burnt honey in the Momofuku Ko kitchen and had a revelation. As she was about to throw away her error, her fun-loving attitude and out-of-the-box style pushed her into deciding instead to taste it.

“[I] found that it had taken on some crazy umami notes — and I actually found it more interesting than plain old honey!” she said in her cookbook.

Her advice for home cooks and bakers who are afraid to jump in and make mistakes? “Be honest to who you are.”

“Have a point of view, keep your head down when noise tries to drown out your inner voice and whatever you do, keep pushing!” she said in an email.

Tosi mixes burnt honey with lots of things, and we can share three of her favorite ways to eat it, here.

Burnt-Honey Butter

1?4 cup honey (nothing fancy)

8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter

1?2 teaspoon kosher salt

1. Heat the honey in a medium saucepan over medium heat until a candy thermometer registers 325°F, about 10 minutes. Make sure you use a decent-sized pan, because it will quadruple in volume while cooking—er, burning! The honey should go bubbly and deep brown like no place you’ve ever taken a pot of honey before. Please be careful, because hot honey can burn the living daylights out of you. And when you’re checking the temperature of the honey, make sure the thermometer isn’t touching the bottom of the pan, or you will get an inaccurately high reading.

2. Remove from the heat, add the butter and salt, and stir until the butter is completely melted. Cool completely, at room temperature or in the refrigerator, so the butter firms up.

3. Transfer the butter to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and whip on high speed until it is lightened in color and completely smooth, with no chunks. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, crank the mixer back up to high speed, and whip for another 45 seconds, or until the butter is super-fluffy and light brown. Store in the refrigerator until ready to use or for up to 1 month.

Makes about 3/4 cup.

Burnt-Honey Mustard Dip

1 cup honey

1 cup plain yogurt

1 cup yellow mustard

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 tablespoon honey

1. Pour the 1 cup honey into a medium saucepan, attach a candy thermometer to the pan, and cook over medium heat until the honey registers 325°F, about 10 minutes. The honey should be bubbly and deep brown, like no place you’ve ever taken a pot of honey before. Please be careful, because hot honey can burn the living daylights out of you.

2. Remove from the heat and whisk in the yogurt, mustard, salt, and the remaining 1 tablespoon honey (this is unburnt for a kick of sweetness). Chill in the fridge before serving. The dip will keep in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week.

Burnt-Honey Butter Kale with Sesame Seeds

1 bunch (about 3?4 pound) kale

21?2 tablespoons Burnt-Honey Butter, melted and cooled slightly

2 teaspoons white sesame seeds

1?2 teaspoon kosher salt

1. Heat the oven to 200°F.

2. Remove and discard the stems from the kale. Slice the greens into 1-inch-wide strips.

3. Toss the kale with the melted honey butter, sesame seeds, and salt in a large bowl until evenly coated with the butter.

4. Spread the kale out on a baking sheet and bake for about 40 minutes, until it is fully dehydrated and crisp, like a paper-thin chip. Cool completely.

5. Store in an airtight container at room temperature for up to a week.


“Milk Bar Life” is not organized by dining course, or type of dessert. Instead, it’s organized by Tosi’s favorite things, from weekend recipes (Freakin’ Weekend) to late-night snacks (Craft Night/ Sleep Over). It’s all very fun and whimsical. Just like Milk Bar!