Amnesty Cookies

baking cookies

When I was speaking at the Blogher Food Conference last year, one of the organizers was telling us that on the last day of each month, she carries out what she calls E-mail Amnesty Day. On that day, she deletes all her e-mail in her Inbox, then issues an all-points-bulletin to everyone she knows that if there was anything important in there, to e-mail her again. She swore that it drastically reduced her e-mail and any meltdowns one might have trying to answer it all.

I thought that was an interesting idea, and when I looked around my apartment the other day, (which wasn’t half as scary as my Inbox), I realized that I had a huge miscellany of half-bags and jars of stuff left over from various baking projects, odds and ends that I was saving, which I said to myself (at the time) that I’d certainly use in the future. And this weekend, I thought it was high time to do something about it and get rid of them all, to do an exhaustive, clean sweep and get rid of everything.

kit-kat bars ingredients for compost cookies

What also prompted the purge was when I read where Adam made something called “Compost Cookies”, a recipe which includes anything you wish to dump in it, from chocolate chips to Fritos.

He replied, on Twitter, “What would you put in your version?” And then it hit me, that I should give these highly-praised Compost Cookies, a recipe from pastry chef Christina Tosi of Momofuku Milkbar, a try.

butterscotch chips butterscotch chips

I puttered about my apartment, gathering up goods, like that small blob of caramelized white chocolate I’d been picking at whenever it rose to the top of the pile of stuff, the 3/5ths of a bag of butterscotch chips that I used for Triple Chocolate Scotcheroos, four chocolate truffles I didn’t get around to eating which looked lonely, a half-jar of croquante from a brush with a molecular gastronomy, three miniature Kit-Kat bars from Japan, and the last morsels and bits from the bottom of a five kilo box of French chocolate pistoles.

Sine the recipe pretty much gives you leeway to use up three cups of stuff, including pretzels, potato chips, or whatever snack foods you want (or have on hand)…I kissed those Kisses goodbye, gave a scissory guillotine to some orphaned oursons guimauve, and said au revoir to all that.


Well…one of the three Kit-Kat bars didn’t make it into the mix. I had to taste one, to make sure they were was still usable, right? And maybe a few marshmallow bears, before sending them off to meet their melting fate.

marshmallow bears

For better or worse, in France, there’s all sorts of goofy snack foods, including one that I didn’t know if it still existed in the states or not: Bugels.

(I used something called “Google” and found out that yes, they do. I guess since no one sold them at the San Francisco farmer’s market, I sort of forgot about them.)

Although the supermarket shelves in France aren’t the all-out assault the American snack foods aisles are (re: shelves vs. aisles), we do have roast chicken-flavored potato chips, and there’s plenty of other nutritionally-dubious stuff to choose from, nonetheless. And the versions that you see here are often close to the original ones we had in the states, before everything thing in them got banned. Most likely because a lot of them fly under the radar here, they still taste the same as they did in the old days, since they’re full of insidious hydrogenated fats and even le glucose.


Like America, France is still a relatively-free country (although the banks and mobile phone companies here would like it otherwise), the great thing is that you can put anything the heck you want in this batter: thin mints, Pepperidge Farm goldfish, crisp bacon, Captain Crunch, salted butter caramels, Bugels, peanut brittle—whatever. Everything…out, out, Out!

As Adam mentioned, the dough was oh-mes-étoiles good. Don’t even think about tasting it before you bake the cookies, because if you do, you won’t likely have enough to bake off a single sheet pan of these. The salty pretzels embedded in the brown sugared batter, and corny Bugels a-plenty mingled with the big hunks of top-quality chocolate and low-quality butterscotch chips makes a dough that’s one salty-sweet, buttery-crunchy, amazingly delicious mess.

chopping bugels

Unlike when Adam said to Eve, “Stand back! I don’t know how big this thing is gonna get!”, when I scooped the cookie batter on to the sheet, I knew for sure they were going to be mighty-big whoppers. (Unlike Adam. Well, I mean the Adam of Adam and Eve. I don’t know about Adam Roberts.)

The recipe says to use a 6 ounce ice cream scoop. Do you have any idea how big a six ounce scoop is? That’s about 3/4 cup of batter.

Per cookie.

Hey, the bigger the better, I suppose. And I had a lot of stuff to plow through, so I wasn’t questioning anyone.


4 cups bugel batter

Being a good little baker, I followed the Compost Cookie recipe almost precisely, and the first batch were puddings of underdoneness, with lava rock-like edges. Someone on my Flickr page said they looked like “chicken pot pie cookies.”

compost cookies

I guess I was so excited to get rid of things that in my haste, I neglected to read where in the recipe, it said it was obligatory to freeze the scoops of dough for at least one hour, which I then dutifully did with the rest of the batter.

After baking off another two baking sheets, each one producing six identically flat cookies, which luckily didn’t resemble caramelized savory hand pies (although there’s an idea for anyone enterprising out there who wants to run with it) I went back and re-read the recipe yet again, and realized that the baking sheet needs to be frozen as well. So it was back to the chopping block for me.

thin cookies

Considering there isn’t space for a postage stamp in my freezer, finding space in there was no easy chore, let me tell you. But if I could clear out some space in my cabinets, gosh darn it, I could give it a go in my freezer.

And because when I’m having a problem I do what everyone else does: blame the French. So I resorted to dipping into my stash of American flour.

US flour cookie dough

And sure enough, success. Whew!

compost cookies

Oh, and what did I do with those extra cookies, the flat, the chicken pot pie-like, and overbaked, too thin ones? I cut them up and put them in the freezer, where I’m storing them, to use for another baking project in the future.

chopping cookies

Oh, no!. . .


  • Ok, am I the only one who never has any of these things left over?? LOL

  • I did a cheater version of these things this morning before I went to work. I used a packaged chocolate chip cookie mix & crunched pretzels into it, Made them in a bar style. WONDERFUL! And oh, was I popular at work today!

  • What a fun post. I had not heard of these cookies, I have been dumping random things like this into brownies. I will have to give these a try sometime soon. I have been chilling my cookie dough down for awhile now when I bake cookies. It is hotter than Hades in Houston, and cookies just come out better for me if chill the batter down before baking cookies.

  • What an awesome idea!

    I bet you could make cookie crumbs with the ones that didn’t work out so well and coat something in them and pan fry it and make it extra-delicious. French toast maybe?

  • So what’s the consensus here, then? In the comments here and on the posting on Adam’s blog, there are many, many comments about the cookies spreading out too much and burning.

    Is it because there isn’t enough flour, or because of this whole whipping the butter for 10 minutes? It seems like people are trying to chill the dough long enough, so I don’t know if that’s the issue. It seems like there might just be a problem with the recipe…

  • I followed the recipe to a tee and mine came out looking like Adam’s. Tasted delicious too! Great way to get me to actually start my spring cleaning. Thanks for the recipe, David!

  • Stephanie: Thanks, and your cookies look great. It’s interesting that some people have success with her recipe and others don’t.

    MK: Just above, in my previous comment, I linked to a few places where people had success with the recipe. It seems like an odd technique, to whip the butter for so long (which usually causes spreading) and to add a relatively scant amount of flour. But since it works for some people, and not for others, it’s hard to tell the cause.

    Anna: I didn’t see the recipe on their site, but I think adding oats (or oat flour) is a good idea. I think Chef Tosi is writing a cookbook and perhaps when it comes out, there will be another version of the cookie that addresses the variations.

  • I have something of a cupboard amnesty pretty much every Friday, as I always try and use up at least my fresh food before heading to the market on Saturday. (In fact, that is precisely what my blog is all about.)
    Yesterday I realised that I had a couple of things in my cupboard that had been resident there for far too long – namely a tin of that yummy French chestnut purée and a block of 100% cacao. So I made chocolate chestnut brownies.

  • I need to give these a try…dried goji berry/jersey milk chocolate/brazil nut/candied ginger/yam chip/mac nut/pepita/stale marshmallow santa frankencookies soundlike a good evening project. All in the name of spring cleaning/purging. Another bugel heyday-era treat for me were bacon daisies…small flower shaped, bacon flavoured corn chip kind of things. bugels are still around in Canada, bacon daisies disappeared in the late 70’s. yummy.


  • I was wondering, do you think the corn syrup adds value to the recipe? I’m going to try the recipe today and have everything BUT the corn syrup. Like you, I am interested in following the recipe to a T, just to see what the results are, so I’m running out to the supermarket now. Then I’m left with a huge bottle… I guess pecan pies are in the near future.

    Love your posts!

  • Eesh!!! I neglected to read the comments before making these – and I wish that I had. Same problem as everyone else. But when looking at the cookie madness recipe, it’s not only the flour thats different, it’s only one stick of butter versus the AG 2 sticks. Seems like a totally different cookie? Guess I have to go steal some more candy from my kids!!

  • Publix! Oh how I miss Publix. If only Skopje had ethnic markets, too….

  • What a fabulous idea. Not sure these cookies have made it across the pond yet. I was just considering having a pasta and rice amnesty. Not sure I can make anything with all the bits at the bottom of packets I have in my cupboard.

  • I made these Sunday and they came out really really well. I did use a full-sized ice cream scoop, so they are huge. I baked the dough frozen, but did not chill the cookie sheet, which I will try next time. I think they were a tad too soft in the center, so I might add just a touch more flour, but otherwise – spectacular. The long beating of the sugar/eggs really does wonders for the flavor and that tiny sugary give when the cookie is bitten. More salty things next time for sure.
    (The next day I was putting up batches of pizza dough for the freezer, so I made myself an Amnesty Pizza to clear out the old cheese, meats, etc.)

  • David, I have been experimenting with this type of cookie for months now. I have lots of little “remnants” from when I cut into my dessert company’s goodies, and being a typical chef who NEVER wants to throw anything away, I just incorporated them into my favorite chocolate chip cookie dough and wa-la! They were great. I have named these cookies something I thought was a little more “sellable” than Compost Cookies. (Garbage Cookies was a suggestion that was tossed.) So, be on the lookout for Kitchen Sink Cookies.