Christina Tosi's Favorite 'Dirty Dessert Secret' – Exclusive

Christina Tosi headshot
Christina Tosi headshot - Bennett Raglin/Getty Images

Christina Tosi is a renowned pastry chef — she's a James Beard Award winner and she had her own episode of "Chef's Table" — but she's also known for bringing junk food into her dessert creations. As she told Mashed in an exclusive interview, "I learned to tap into my culinary creative spirit by pushing the cart up and down the aisles of the grocery store on the weekly errand with my mom to go get groceries." This is evident in some of her most famous desserts, like the compost cookie, which is studded with crushed pretzels and potato chips, or her birthday cake, which is a fancified version of Funfetti.

Who could be better, then, to cook a birthday cake celebrating the 75th anniversary of Cheetos? Tosi was very excited when the brand reached out to do a collaboration because she's been a fan of Cheetos for decades. In fact, she enjoys eating them in a specific way: "One of my dirty dessert secrets for years has been taking a tub of creamy, dreamy vanilla frosting and dipping Cheetos in it." Her history with this unique sweet and salty combo made her believe a Cheetos-flavored birthday cake could be delicious. After much experimentation, she made a variation on her Milk Bar birthday cake that incorporated Cheetos seasoning dust into the frosting as an homage to her Cheetos-dipping dessert secret.

Read more: The Best Desserts You've Never Heard Of

Christina Tosi's Love Affair With Cheetos

Birthday cake with bag of Cheetos
Birthday cake with bag of Cheetos - Milk Bar

Tosi also enjoys eating Cheetos by themselves as a salty snack sans frosting. She said the orange bags were a constant companion during her first pregnancy. "With my first daughter, one of my only pregnancy cravings was I'd eat one of those little snack packs of Cheetos every single day," she told us, and even commemorated her Cheetos obsession with a pregnancy photo shoot that used bags of the snack as props.

When she was testing out different recipes for the Cheetos 75th birthday cake, she drew on her lifetime of eating the snack and tried to break down what made it work so well — and particularly why it was so unexpectedly good with vanilla frosting. Ultimately, she realized that cheddar cheese's dairy flavor is a natural pairing with dairy-forward desserts because the savory cheese and the sweet baked goods share a common origin: milk.

As she put it, "Dairy in its purest form naturally has a little bit of sugar in it, and cheese and dessert are walking in parallel, even though they don't seem like they would go together." Plus, the salty-sweet mix was out of the box in a way that appealed to the chef's sensibilities: "A great dessert is something that is always moving the target on you — when you're done with it, you're still trying to wrap your head around it and you want more."

The Cheetos 75th birthday cake is available for purchase from the Milk Bar Store while supplies last.

Read the original article on Mashed.