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Christina Tosi exclusive interview

Award-winning pastry chef Christina Tosi
Award-winning pastry chef Christina Tosi
Nestle

The genius award-winning pastry chef Christina Tosi, founder of New York's mega popular Momofuku Milk Bar, teamed up with Nestle to celebrate the launch of Butterfinger Bites by creating a mouthwatering masterpiece: Butterfinger Bites pie crust. And a slice of scrumptious can be yours in just 5 minutes! Yes, that's how long it takes to recreate Tosi's tasty recipe. #ButterfingerDreamsDoComeTrue!

The culinary virtuoso took a time out to talk about everything from how her mathematics background comes in handy in the kitchen to her best holiday baking advice.

MM: What was the biggest challenge working with Butterfinger Bites as an ingredient?

Christina Tosi: The challenge was maintaining the integrity of the product without over-complicating it. I wanted something easy to make – but also wanted to maintain the flavor and texture. I wanted Butterfinger Bites to be the star of the recipe. Didn’t just want to sprinkle the ingredient on a pie. It had to be an awesome feeling that when you eat it, you think “Oh my God, it tastes like Butterfinger.”

MM: Seems like a dangerous ingredient! Caution: Way too tempting to snack on!

CT: I have to create a recipe that uses the entire bag [laughs]. If it only uses ¼ cup, the contents of the bag will disappear.

MM: Do you think Santa would like a slice? Change up the whole cookie routine?

CT: If you leave a slice of pie by the chimney, it’ll be gone.

MM: Will it be on the menu at your family’s Christmas celebration?

CT: It’s the most requested item at the family dinner table this year. Whenever I’m recipe testing, my family always asks “What’s that? What’s that?”

MM: What are some of your family’s holiday traditions?

CT: My family has sweet teeth. Our traditions are baking and bringing baked goods to family and friends. We also have card parties. We sit around the kitchen table and play Gin, Uno, Dominos. We laugh and compete and eat platters of desserts.

MM: You studied electrical engineering at UVA. Interesting start to your culinary career!

CT: I started off there, and then transferred and studied abroad. I majored in Italian and applied mathematics. Clearly as a baker, I love science. I don’t like science in the real world though! I like applying it with sugar, butter and Butterfinger Bites [laughs].

MM: Does your engineering background come into play in the kitchen?

CT: I joke with my mom that I got a fancy degree and I bake cookies all day. But mathematics, precision, and the scientific approach all go into the baking mentality. And as far as Italian goes, that taps into the left and right side of the brain and creativity. All things we use in the kitchen.

CT: Do you make Italian desserts?

CT: I eat Italian desserts more than I make them. It’s one of those things where you don’t ever try to make your mom’s best dish – it’s the purity of it. It’s entirely because of my Italian upbringing.

MM: Lot of holiday bakers sweating bullets out there. What’s your best baking advice?

CT: Keep it simple. A lot of bakers this time of year are under pressure and try to make something fabulous or a new thing. But they often end in disaster.

My favorite part of the holidays is retreating to tradition. My holiday flavors are never new. They’re classic. Start with something simple and put a twist on it. If you’re making cookies, be creative with the glaze or frosting. It’s like classic black jeans and a white-collar shirt. That always looks good. So, have the same approach with baking this time of year. Oh, and you can never have too many cookies either.

MM: What makes you so successful in such an intense industry?

CT: I very much contribute it to how I was raised. Keep your head down and do something you love – and have a little luck in there, too [laughs]. I also have a great team. We take it one day at a time.