The challenge of evaluating chocolate chip cookies is that even mediocre ones tastes damn good when served hot from the oven. With decent chocolate and plenty of butter, it's hard to go wrong.
That's why my benchmark for fresh chocolate chip cookies is high. What did the chef do differently or better? This brings me to Dominique Ansel Bakery's new Chocolate Chip Cookie Milk Shot ($3), which debuted in Austin at SXSW and has already seen several cycles of media coverage, but is only available in New York starting today. The design is deceptively simple: cookie dough shaped into a shot glass, then filled with milk to be eaten on the spot.
In what will come as no surprise to those who have followed the mad scientist French chef, Dominique Ansel has nailed it. But that took some doing. Early criticisms pointed out that the warm cookie didn't hold up to milk without turning soggy, and it was hard to alternate between bites of cookie and sips of cold milk. After some tinkering, Ansel overcame those problems for the shot's New York debut.
The superb base cookie, similar to the bakery's standard version, uses high-end 66% Valrhona chocolate. Our shot was served warm with soft, gooey chocolate chips, a buttery crumb, and a fresh-out-of-the-oven aroma (despite being reheated). Five Acre Farms whole milk infused with Tahitian vanilla fills the shot, offering its own powerful fragrance. We successfully sipped and nibbled the cookie without any problems. And take note that if you eat the cookie in-store, they'll top you off with milk if needed.
So how does Ansel make a cookie that can handle an ounce or two of milk without turning soggy and disintegrating? The secret is a heat-resistant glaze that coats the inside of the shot. The original Austin version featured a chocolate glaze that melted under reheating; this shot's glaze is more resilient, so voila! A soft cookie cup that's served warm but can still firmly hold milk.
Before we go off the deep end on another viral dessert, it's worth remembering that ultimately this is still a chocolate chip cookie with a technical trick—a very good cookie with a brilliant trick, mind you—but if chocolate chip cookies aren't your thing, this won't blow your mind. Also, though the vanilla milk is fresh and flavorful, it edges towards sweet, which some may find unwelcome alongside an already sweet cookie.
Individual shots ordered fresh at the shop cost $3 each with a limit of two per customer (includes milk top offs). You can also buy a box of eight cookie "shot glasses" for $25. For take out orders, vanilla-infused milk is sold separately in 16 ounce glass bottles.
The shots go on sale today at 3 p.m. If you're going to stand on line, make sure you know which line you're on.
About the author: Native New Yorker Niko Triantafillou is the founder of DessertBuzz.com his photographs of desserts and pastry chefs have appeared in the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post and Dessert Professional Magazine. He is an unabashed foodie nerdling. Follow him on Twitter at @DessertBuzz.