Holiday Baking with Christina Tosi

The famed Milk Bar pastry chef shares her best baking hacks and favorite recipes for the holidays
Pineapple Granola Tiramisu Recipe

Try this fruity variation on a classic Italian dessert from Dolce Vizio, a café dedicated to tiramisu located in the West Village in New York City.

Holiday Baking with Christina Tosi

Christina Tosi for Baileys Original Irish Cream

Tosi released this Baileys cake recipe earlier this month, just in time for holiday baking.

When you are looking for a holiday baking advice, who better to ask for holiday baking advice than the accomplished and busy pastry chef/founder/owner of Momofuku Milk Bar Christina Tosi?

Tosi, who won the James Beard Award for Outstanding Pastry Chef earlier this year, is known for her whimsically-styled playful desserts and sometimes unusual list of ingredients, which have included corn flakes, coffee grounds, and potato chips, to name a few.

This year, Tosi has been busy judging MasterChef and MasterChef Junior, launching a Milk Bar pop-up in Madison Square Park, expanding her Milk Bar empire to D.C., and releasing her second cookbook Milk Bar Life.   

We took a minute to catch up with Tosi to find out what her all-time favorite holiday recipes are, some much needed baking hacks for working under a time crunch, and how to create her signature “naked cake” look with her latest creation, Tosi’s Baileys cake (perfect for wowing at holiday parties if you can keep from immediately slicing into it).

The Daily Meal: What are some of your all-time favorite holiday recipes?

Christina Tosi: It's not a holiday without cookies! My favorites this time of year are all hilariously enough in my second cookbook Milk Bar Life — a batch of cut-out cookies, frosted and decorated; the Greta, my mom’s recipe for sugar cookie bars shared with the world; or my grandma’s oatmeal cookies.

If I’m with my little nieces, any kind of cereal bound with marshmallow, colored green, shaped like a doughnut, and adorned festively with red hots, makes the most yummy Wreath Krispie Treats!

Can you share some of your favorite holiday hacks for baking?

For as much and as hard as I like to work, I set myself up by doing as much as possible in advance. There are a lot of cookies that you can make the dough or scoop the dough ahead of time, which makes it really easy to get the job done.

One of my favorite cookie tricks came from my grandma. In storing your cookies, put a slice of bread into the container with your cookies. That’s the best way to keep your cookies nice and moist. It will breathe new life into your cookies for three or four days.

What are some of your tips for baking in large batches for parties, edible gifts, etc.?

Make a huge batch of cinnamon buns and portion them individually unbaked. Send your guests home with them and instructions to bake and frost the next morning. It’s a baller parting gift that keeps giving.

For a more cocktail-esque party, I love to triple the recipe for Rosemary Nuts, from Milk Bar Life and pack them into little mason jars with a ribbon and nametag for each guest! I put a few bowls of the leftovers out so folks can snack while they drink and get excited about what they take home!

What are your favorite desserts to serve at large holiday parties?

A fun holiday treat that I can’t get enough of are candy canes! I eat them straight, fold them into nearly any recipe, and love mixing them into hot chocolate with a splash of Baileys Irish Cream as an after dinner treat. This is always a cozy crowd pleaser!

If you want to really pump up the volume as a host, make little recipe cards for the hot chocolate and send folks home with their own little bottles of Baileys to recreate on another fun winter’s night!

You are known for your naked cakes. How can readers recreate that look at home?

Knowing that you're not going to hide the fillings and fun of a cake behind a sheath of fondant or frosting means you can really play with color and texture within the flavor profile of a cake! Anything spreadable or textural can be a cake filling. Just be sure you have a good structure to build your cake in: We use a 6” or 10” cake ring and a strip of acetate to allow us to build the cake up and then unwrap it once it’s been layered and set in the freezer overnight!

Do you have any tips for icing cakes and keeping layers even?

When we assemble our layer cakes at Milk Bar, we use a bent spoon to spread frosting and fillings between each layer, with a close attention to texture, temperature, and timing!

Can you tell us a little bit about your latest creation, the Baileys cake?

Passion fruit, chocolate, and Baileys Irish Cream is one of my favorite flavor trios.  Though the combo sounds a little out there, it’s a mind blowingly perfect fit! (Trust me, I know a thing or two…)

It’s chocolate chip cake, soaked with Baileys, then layered with passion fruit curd, chocolate crumbs, and a coffee spiked Baileys Irish Cream Frosting. It’s a fun, bright, festive new tradition to fold into this holiday season!

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