On my lofty mission to eat the best and sweetest desserts in New York City, I’ve already journeyed to an old-fashioned ice cream parlor in Queens, an expensive bagel store in Brooklyn, and one of the most famous cookie bakeries in Manhattan. All of those spots had some sweet treats, and I heard about all of them through social media. It seemed only natural that my next step on the grand New York dessert tour would be a place I discovered through our generation’s favorite streaming service: Netflix.
If Milk Bar sounds familiar to you, you either found it on one of the many “Best of New York” lists, or you heard about it through Chef’s Table: Pastry, which profiled the chain’s mastermind, Christina Tosi. Milk Bar was first launched in 2008, as part of the Momofuku chain of restaurants. The bakery started off as a spot for Tosi to test out some of her baking inventions, including the famous Crack Pie and compost cookies. There are also cakes (Tosi is one of the purveyors of the “naked cake,” where there is no frosting on the sides, so you can see the layers), soft serve ice cream, cookies, and cookbooks with the recipes to these fabulous treats. Tosi uses the bakery as her playground and test kitchen, and it’s pretty awesome to see the long list of wacky flavors.
Milk Bar has locations throughout Manhattan and Brooklyn, and it was merely by mistake that I stumbled on the Carroll Gardens spot during one of my trips walking around the streets of New York City. The bakery has many, many specials, but it is best known for Crack Pie, with its toasted oat crust and gooey butter filling. While I follow a simple belief that dessert needs chocolate in it, I wanted to see if this pie was worth all of the acclaim.
A little note here: I’m an avid baker. I love making cookies, brownies, cupcakes, and everything else, and I’ve always debated whether I should start my own baking gig on the side. Since I know I can make my own delicious treats, I’m a pretty harsh judge of any bakery. I’ve heard mixed reviews on Milk Bar - some people say the recipes have changed over the years, and others say that it’s way too much money and is overhyped.
First things first: Crack Pie is expensive. An entire pie (8 slices) will run you $48, or $6 per slice. It’s worth nothing that the Carroll Gardens Milk Bar is card only, so no cash is accepted. I ordered from the friendly girl behind the counter, grabbed a plastic fork, and took a seat with my cute little box of Crack Pie.
Yes, it’s very small. For a $6 slice of pie, I was expecting a much bigger piece. But honestly, any questioning I had over the size of the Crack Pie was silenced when I took a bite. This thing is sweet. Like, extremely sweet. I’ve eaten many sugary treats in my life (including cookie dough straight from the roll), and this thing was so sweet that it actually made my teeth hurt. I took my sweet (hah) time eating it, half because I wanted to get my money’s worth, and half because I was afraid of what I was doing to my dental health.
Verdict time - was the Crack Pie worth the $6 that I spent and massive sugar crash that I had? I’d say it’s worth trying the famous New York City dessert at least once to judge for yourself. I’m a chocolate fan, so I don’t see myself craving a slice of Crack Pie in the near future. If you’re a fan of the super sweet, and you’re a brown sugar and oat lover, then Crack away!
Interested in more bucket list adventures in New York City? Follow along on Instagram at @fiveboroughbucketlist!