Have you heard of ASMR? Wikipedia defines it as an “experience characterized by a static-like or tingling sensation on the skin that typically begins on the scalp and moves down the back of the neck and upper spine”. People in Korea and China combine mukbang—where they film themselves eating (often copious amounts of food)—with this new ASMR trend by using high-quality microphones that pick up every single satisfying crunch, slurp, gulp. I recall innocently tapping on one of these videos on Instagram, unknowingly losing myself in an endless stream of sounds that made it increasingly difficult to click the little X in the top left corner. Don’t feel the tingling though. I probably never will. I also don’t know what attracts me so much to these videos of people eating. Is it a repressed Freudian desire to stuff my face? Is it my innate Chinese mother instinct—as my mom always told me, “Eat more!”—that eggs these people as they precisely shovel food down their throats? And how are most of these people young and attractive? This sounds like the kind of job that I would like…
Just don’t watch the Chinese guy who savagely chomps whole lobsters and crabs, or the people who eat ice. Even just the thought of it hurts my teeth. I know they do it for the crunch, but c’mon at least give some thought to their future selves, who would like fully functioning teeth, thank you very much.
The crunch really is the most satisfying sound, though. Nothing else compares. For my entire 17-year-old lifespan, the crunch keeps me coming back for more, for that “one last bite”. Yeah, slurpy noodles taste good, and soft cakes are superb, but crunch, with its combination of texture and sound, produces an experience almost euphoric. My theory that every amazing dessert has a crunchy element is probably true. Just look at Momofuku Milk Bar cakes. The cakes and fillings are great, but a Milk Bar cake wouldn’t be a Milk Bar cake without the crunch, those little nuggets of salty-sweet goodness that elegantly crown the top of the cake. Or the quintessential chocolate chip cookie: my ideal cookie features a moat of crispy edges encircling a fudgy, chewy interior.
These brown butter millet cookies are helping me along my quest to master the art of texture. A soft-chewy brown butter scented cookie surrounds pockets of crunchy millet brittle. You get two layers of crunch, from both the millet and the hardened sugar. I could start my own ASMR channel with these cookies…
brown butter millet cookies
- 1/2 cup millet
- 100 g (1/2 cup) granulated sugar
- 1 stick unsalted butter
- 75 g (3/4 cup) granulated sugar
- 75 g (3/4 cup) brown sugar
- 1 large egg
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 200 g (1 1/2 cup) unbleached flour
- 50 g (1/4 cup) fine cornmeal can sub extra flour
- 1 tbsp cornstarch
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1/4 tsp salt
Spread the millet out on a parchment-lined sheet pan. In a medium saucepan, melt the sugar until amber-colored. Pour the sugar over the millet in an even layer and let cool until hardened. Use a rolling pin to chop the brittle into small chunks.
In another saucepan, brown the butter by cooking it over medium heat until fragrant and brown-colored. Pour into a bowl and let cool 10 min before proceeding.
Preheat oven to 325℉. Prepare a sheet pan with parchment paper.
Add the sugars to the brown butter and whisk until combined and color has lightened a bit. Add the egg and vanilla, then whisk until just combined.
Add the flour, cornmeal, cornstarch, baking soda and salt. Using a spatula or large spoon, gently fold until just combined. Dump in the millet brittle chunks and fold to disperse.
Measure out roughly 2 tbsp size balls of cookie dough, placing them spaced apart on the prepared pan. Bake for 10-12 minutes. They will appear undercooked, so let cool on the pan for 10 min to set. Enjoy!