I ordered Milk Bar cake online and it was 100% worth it
Pastry chef Christina Tosi’s iconic treats come shipped to your door.
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Before moving to Philadelphia, my husband and I lived a few blocks from a Brooklyn Milk Bar outpost, where we’d stop for coffee and, once in a while, a strawberry lemon cake truffle or a cup of cereal milk soft serve coated with bits of sugary corn flakes. I’ll never forget the first time I tasted Milk Bar’s cereal milk ice cream (it was 2008, pre-Instagram). Made with corn flake-steeped milk, this ice cream is weird, wonderful, and a total revelation. And if there was ever an occasion that called for an over-the-top celebratory cake, our go-to was Milk Bar.
In the last year, though, after navigating virtual school for our three daughters, countless Zoom meetings, and the exhausting sadness of missing friends and family, we realized that maybe we don’t need a special occasion to order a special cake. Maybe we should be celebrating a random Tuesday. And so we did. I ordered a classic Milk Bar Birthday Cake.
What is Milk Bar?
Famed pastry chef Christina Tosi opened her first bakery in New York City in 2008, selling inventive, offbeat treats like Compost Cookies (chocolate chip cookies with pretzels, potato chips, graham crackers, coffee, oats, and butterscotch), Cereal Milk Soft Serve (you already know about this one), and the cult favorite Milk Bar Pie.
More than a decade later, Milk Bar now operates bakeries in New York City, Los Angeles, Boston, and beyond, and ships its baked goods all over the country. Packaged cookies have also started popping up on shelves at nationwide retailers.
Besides her cookies and soft serve, some of Tosi’s most popular creations include delightful layer cakes and cake truffles—bites of cake coated with a super-thin layer of chocolate and rolled in “sand,” which is a super fine mix of sugar, flour, and baking powder.
How does it work?
Browse the website by dessert type—cakes, cookies, pies, or cake truffles; toggle through different occasions (like Mother’s Day or graduation); or peruse by price point (under $100 or under $50).
Besides the selection of individual treats, you can order (for yourself or sent to someone else) bundled packages, like The Sweet Spot that comes with the Milk Bar Pie, a dozen birthday cake truffles, and a cookie assortment.
Decide what you’d like, and then pick your delivery date up to 30 days in advance. Desserts are flash frozen to ensure peak freshness, and then packaged according to the type of treat. Cakes are swaddled in plastic wrap, then tucked into a box and surrounded by ice packs so they don't get jostled in transit. All other treats (like cookie tins and cake truffle boxes) are put into an insulated bag, and the ice packs keep them cool until they arrive at your door.
Milk Bar bakes all its goodies in a commissary kitchen, and it delivers seven days a week, so you can get the box in time for your special occasion no matter the day. Flat-rate shipping is $15, but is waived on orders over $100, and packages ship via FedEx, OnTrac, AxelHire, CDL, and BOND. Milk Bar ships everywhere in the U.S. but does not ship to U.S. territories, overseas military addresses, or P.O. boxes.
What I ordered
To best see how the treats held up in transit, I opted for the confection that seemed most high risk—the classic 6-inch birthday cake, plus a box of a dozen birthday cake truffles.
The cake arrived on exactly the day I chose, in the late morning. I opened the insulated bag that came inside the exterior cardboard box to find, first, a sample of the latest MIlk Bar product: a two-pack of chocolate birthday truffle crumb cakes. (Sweet, thanks!) Under that, there was the box of cake truffles and the cake. All of the items arrived cool and perfectly intact.
When I took the cake out of the box, it was covered in plastic wrap and with a round cardboard disc covering the top and bottom of the cake. Its circumference was wrapped in a thicker strip of plastic that looked like it was cut by hand with scissors (the edge was somewhat jagged.) Once I removed the plastic and cardboard, the cake was ready to serve as it had thawed enough during transit.
How does it taste?
This isn’t your average cake. If you’ve never tried the 6-inch Milk Bar Birthday Cake, you might think it won’t be enough for celebrating with more than one or two other people. It looks kind of small, you might say to yourself. I could take this down faster than you can sing two rounds of Happy Birthday. But you would be mistaken.
With three spongy, rainbow sprinkle-infused yellow cake layers, each held together with thick, cream cheese-tinged vanilla frosting, then topped with more frosting and dotted with crunchy cake crumbs (a signature element of the cake made from flour, sugar, and vegetable oil), it's deceivingly dense, and easily serves 8 to 12 people.
Is Milk Bar worth it?
My family and I thoroughly loved this midweek celebratory treat. It felt a little odd to slice into such a festive dessert without first singing an off-key chorus of happy birthday, but after one heaping forkful of sprinkle-speckled cake and frosting, we quickly got over it. The only hiccup was the small piece of plastic I found in my slice, which looked like it came from the jagged edge of the plastic wrap that encircled the cake. It was a small thing and didn’t take away from how delightful the entire experience was.
Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.