Editor's note: Zachary Feldman of "In the Midnight Hour" is back with Midnight Snack—where to satisfy a particular late-night craving. Today? Milk and cookies in the Villages. .
If you're like me, deep down, you know that Santa Claus is real without a shred of doubt in your heart. (It simply makes sense that an immortal yet overweight elderly man would have the back strength to slide down a chimney and deliver presents to all 7 billion of us in a single night.) If you're a naysayer, just know that you're rebuking one of your own—Kris Kringle is a food lover, and his voracious appetite for hours-long nocturnal cookie-and-milk binges proves it. Holiday season is cookie season, and in this city, night owls can take advantage of bakeries offering twilight confections.
David Chang has his dissenters, but everyone seems to love the hell out of Momofuku Milk Bar's Christina Tosi; unless you've been hiding underground, chances are you're familiar with products like Crack Pie and Cereal Milk.
The pastry juggernaut's cookies ($1.65 ea.) are no less exalted—a lineup that includes corn and blueberry & cream, and a trio of flavored milks (cereal, strawberry, coffee) gives would-be Saint Nicks a bevy of pairing options. One swig of strawberry milk following a bite of intensely dark chocolate-chocolate cookie might have you thinking about the truly silly practice of "milk-and-cookie pairing", and those hallmark Cereal Milk flavors of sweetened corn and wheat only get amplified by the Compost and cornflake-marshmallow cookies. I'm guessing the key to Milk Bar's popularity lies in Tosi's use of salt to offset sweetness. Either way, late-night cookie hounds have a destination here.
Open past 2am every night of the week, Insomnia Cookies satisfies midnight cookie cravings in a rather straightforward sense. You'll find no organic or heirloom ingredients here, but the baked goods targeted towards baked customers. Of the twelve varieties listed, the oversized Triple Chocolate ($2.50) delivers its cocoa dosage via Hershey's kisses and both semisweet and milk chocolate chunks. It's your textbook chocolate chip cookie, pumped up slightly in size and scope. With a lovely exterior crunch, the S'mores Deluxe ($2.50) ripples with nuggets of graham and marshmallow that give the cookie a pleasant caramelized elasticity. Milk options are limited to the Tuscan Dairy Milk Chug line, available in whole, 1% and chocolate.
Yuletide cheer heads East courtesy of Spot Dessert Bar and Ian Chalermkittichai, appointed this fall to replace much of Pichet Ong's original menu (the restaurant shares owners with Chalermkittichai's other project with Todd English, Ember Room). His plated desserts, like green "tea"ramisu and smoked coconut cheesecake compare favorably to Ong's finest works like the yuzu eskimo, which still resides on the menu.
Two of the three available cookies ($2.75 ea.) are holdovers from the 2009 launch. One of those is chocolate chip coconut, a grand disc of semisweet morsels given both cream and textural crunch with the addition of the shredded tropical fruit. The Laurel to that cookie's Hardy is most definitely a petite mound of white chocolate and macadamia nuts, buttery and sweet in the extreme; any larger and it would be overwhelming. Standing in for boring old milk, you could always go the Ovaltine route. Ong is an unabashed fan of the infamous malt powder (his most noted contribution being the Ovaltine kulfi at Spice Market), and you can find it served hot, cold or in ice cream. Opt instead for the refreshing milk bubble tea ($4.25) studded with glutinous tapioca pearls, a drink which can usually be overly sweet, but here retains a pleasant bitterness from the black tea.
So get in the holiday spirit, or don't; milk and cookies slide right into the season—regardless of your stance of the crossroads between religion and consumerism.