Milkbar Buddy Cake

When I first got publicly eliminated during season 10 of Masterchef, and it came out that I would be working at Milkbar LA, one of the first people to reach out to me was none other than Samantha from season 9! Samantha, or Sam as we call her in real life, was working at Milkbar in New York at the time, and she was super enthusiastic to fill me in on all things Milkbar culture, so I just felt immediately welcomed into that environment because of her! Since then, we have obviously both competed on season 12, Back to Win, and along with Bri and Dara, the four of us have become extremely close – we would always sit together in the holding area between challenges and whatnot, and we always did what we could to keep our little friendship bubble positive, wholesome, and fun. Since Dara, Sam, and I all had pastry backgrounds, we definitely shared that in common, and we would always discuss funny pastry tidbits, like what is an invert sugar, and different leavening agents, dessert-nerd things like that. And of course, since Sam is my cross-country coworker, we always shared our Milkbar stories. For her, she had fond memories making the brown butter cake, since they would always encourage her to burn the butter to give it this rich, deep flavor to it. For me, it would be making whatever I wanted in Milkbar Lab with whatever exciting/bougie ingredients I could find in the pantry – fun fact, Milkbar used only Valrhona chocolate, so I made sure to take full advantage of that while I was there, and this recipe will actually include Valrhona blonde chocolate as an homage to that memory. And that was how this recipe came about!

For the components, we have a brown butter cake, black currant jam, liquid goat cheesecake, and blonde chocolate-oat cookie crunch. The recipes for the brown butter cake and jam will be on Sam’s site, which I will link below, but on mine, I will be including the recipes for the liquid cheesecake and the crunch. One of the first desserts I R&D’d at Milkbar Lab was a Milkbar cheesecake, using the corn cookies as a crust, Christina Tosi’s iconic liquid cheesecake as a filling, and rippling the whole thing with blueberry or blackberry jam. I wanted to use liquid cheesecake in this recipe as an homage to that, while I wanted to use goat cheese in particular as a nod to my first fine-dining stage as a garde manger, where we would make these logs of red miso-marinated goat cheese, and working with goat cheese for the first time there opened my eyes to all kinds of ingredients I have never even thought of working with! For the crunch, it was a slight nod to Christina’s infamous crack pie(now called Milkbar Pie), using brown butter, oats, and brown sugar to accentuate that. I used blonde chocolate, Valrhona brand specifically, to tie in with my experiences at Milkbar Lab and because the blonde chocolate really adds to that crack pie flavoring with its buttery, caramel-y notes. Sam went with the brown butter cake for the reasons mentioned before, but her usage of the black currant in the jam was directly inspired by her time in culinary school, where her chef instructor taught her about the usage of black currant internationally(unfortunately the climate in America causes a weird fungus to grown on black currant crops, making them not easy to grow), so it made her really value the flavor and usage of that fruit. Together, with our four recipes, we have a delicious cake that tastes ironically enough like a really good black currant cheesecake layer cake!

For the liquid goat cheesecake:
4oz goat cheese
4oz cream cheese
1 tablespoon cornstarch
¾ cup granulated sugar
A pinch of salt
2 tbsp buttermilk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 large egg

In a mixing bowl, start by creaming together goat cheese, cream cheese, cornstarch, sugar, and salt until combined. Whisk into that the other ingredients to form your batter. Pour the batter into a lined shallow baking tin(I used a 9-inch cake round) and bake at 300 degrees F for 25 minutes. The cheesecake should have a slight wobble to it. Once so, allow the cheesecake to cool down completely before transferring to a stand mixer with a paddle attachment and whipping it until light and fluffy, almost pale white in color.

For the blonde chocolate-oat cookie crunch:
1/2 cup dark brown sugar
3/4 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
4 tbsp brown butter
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
2oz blonde chocolate, chopped finely

In a bowl, mix together dark brown sugar, flour, baking powder, and salt. Mix in the brown butter and vanilla to form a dough first. Allow the dough to cool down slightly before mixing in the blonde chocolate pieces. Break the dough into smaller clumps, gripping down on them with your fingers to form ridges – this will allow the crunch to bake and break off into smaller pieces for decoration and assembly! Spread the clumpy ridged pieces onto a lined sheet tray. Bake at 300 degrees F for 20 minutes. Allow the crunch pieces to cool down completely before breaking into smaller pieces and storing in an airtight container. Ideally you want the thumbnail-sized pieces for the top decoration, and the rest for the layers between. If you want to refine the crunch even more, place the crumbs into a sieve and pat the sieve to remove any small powdery bits(we’d refer to that as the “sand”). .

For the soak:
1 cup milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
A pinch of salt

Mix together. Keep refrigerated until time to use.

Check out Sam’s site for the recipes on the cake batter and the black currant jam!

To assemble:
Line a 6-inch ring mold with acetate. Place down the scrap layer of cake first, then add in 1/3 of the soak. Spread on 1/3 of the jam first, 1/3 of the crunch, and pour on 1/3 of the liquid cheesecake. Repeat this for the second layer. For how I made my cake, on the third layer, start with your soak, then spread on the cheesecake and jam, marbling the two together. Freeze the cake for at least 2 hours before attempting to unmold. Arrange the remaining crunch however you want – I did a little ring of crunch towards the center of the cake, but the beauty of a Milkbar cake is that you can arrange it however you want!

2 Comments Add yours

  1. Virginia L. says:

    Thanks for sharing the BTS bits from Master chef Back to win! It’s always appreciated to know how you conceptualize your vision. You keep on doing what you are doing and come. back. to . win. We are rooting for you!


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