If you follow the food media, then you know about crack pie. I mean, Crack Pie ™. Yup, I believe that Momofuku has trademarked the name. I did not have a chance to visit Momofuku's Milk Bar during my last visit to New York City, but I will definitely go to Milk Bar during my next trip to NYC. And I will try Christina Tosi's Crack Pie ™. If the real thing tastes anything like the pie I baked today, then I will gladly pay $44 for the pie. Although, if the real thing does taste anything like the pie I baked today, then I actually don't need to buy the pie ever again since I can do it myself.
When I first set out to make the crack pie, I wasn't sure which recipe to use. Searching the internet resulted in 2 or 3 "official" recipes from Tosi. Her Milk Bar cook book is coming out this month and it will probably have yet another version of the recipe. I decided to go with the recipe published in the LA Times.
The recipe yields two 10-inch pies. I don't have any 10-inch pie pans, so I used one 9-inch pie pan (1-inch deep) and one 10-inch tart pan (3/4-inch deep). My pie version had a lower crust to filling ratio. The bottom crust was less distinct and melded into the thick and gooey layer of filling. My tart version had a higher crust to filling ratio. The crust stayed distinct and crisp. The thin layer of filling was less gooey and a tad more set than the filling in the pie version.
I had a hard time deciding which version I liked more. If I had to pick only one then I choose the tart version. I really liked how crisp the salty and sweet toasted oatmeal cookie crust was in the tart. It had a perfect amount of the sweet, buttery filling. Not too much and not too little.
The pie version was delicious too, but most of the bottom crust was slightly softened with the yummy filling and was not crisp enough for me. The side crust stayed crisp, but I wanted more crispy crust with every bite of my slice and not just at the edge. A 10-inch pie pan would actually result in the perfect ratio of filling to crust and just the right crispiness which is probably why the recipe says to use 10-inch pie pans (duh!). I will be running out soon to buy a couple pans since I will definitely be making this pie again.
There is an incredible amount of hype surrounding this pie. Many swoon over it. But there are just as many haters. Many of the dissenters have tried the pie at Milk Bar and were less than impressed. They tried the real thing and felt it was just so-so and would never pay to eat it again. I have no problem with that. But even more of the dissenters are people who have not tasted the Milk Bar Crack Pie ™ and have only tasted their own homemade version made using one of those "official" recipes. A lot of people are flabbergasted that anyone would have the nerve to charge $44 (or whatever price) for a simple pie and criticize a pie's cost instead of the taste of said pie. A more fair criticism would be that they would never pay $44 for the pie they made.
[BTW...Yes, I know we're in a recession and $44 for any pie in any economic climate can be considered excessive, but this is a luxury item not unlike $5 lattes or $100,000 cars.]
Initially I was a little worried about serving my crack pie since it's quite cosmetically challenged. It's very brown. Even the dusting of powdered sugar didn’t help dress it up. It was hard to slice and get out of the pan cleanly. When I set the pie out to serve, I wasn't sure what to call it. Should I just say it's a chess pie with a salty, toasted oatmeal cookie crust? Would it be presumptuous to label it "crack" pie? What if people didn't get the name? Or even worse, what if they did get it and didn't agree that it was as addictive as crack? My worries were totally unfounded. Everyone who tried my pie absolutely loved it and said it totally lived up to its name. Someone told me that butter is her favorite food group.
(Recipe from LA Times February 11, 2010)
Makes two 10-inch pies
LA Times Note: Adapted from Momofuku. This pie calls for two 10-inch pie tins. You can substitute two 9-inch pie tins, but note that the pies will require additional baking time, about 5 minutes, due to the increased thickness of the filling.
-- Instead of a 9x13 pan to bake the oatmeal cookies, I used a half-sheet pan and spread the batter out to about 9x13.
-- Instead of two 10-inch pie pans, I used one 9-inch pie pan and one 10-inch tart pan.
-- My baking time for the pies was different from what is stated in the LA Times recipe. My total baking time was 40 minutes (350F for 20 minutes and then 325F for 20 minutes).
Oatmeal cookie for crust
2/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon (3 ounces) flour
Scant 1/8 teaspoon baking powder
Scant 1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (4 ounces / 1 stick) softened butter
1/3 cup (2.5 ounces) light brown sugar
3 tablespoons (1.25 ounces) sugar
1 large egg
Scant 1 cup (3.5 ounces) rolled oats
1. Heat the oven to 375 degrees.
2. In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
3. In the bowl of a stand mixer using the paddle attachment, or in a large bowl using an electric mixer, beat the butter, brown sugar and sugar until light and fluffy.
4. Whisk the egg into the butter mixture until fully incorporated.
5. With the mixer running, beat in the flour mixture, a little at a time, until fully combined. Stir in the oats until incorporated.
6. Spread the mixture onto a 9-inch-by-13-inch baking sheet and bake until golden brown and set, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat and cool to the touch on a rack. Crumble the cooled cookie to use in the crust.
Crumbled cookie for crust (see oatmeal cookie recipe above)
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
1 1/2 tablespoons (3/4 ounce) brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
Combine the crumbled cookie, butter, brown sugar and salt in a food processor and pulse until evenly combined and blended (a little of the mixture clumped between your fingers should hold together). Divide the crust between 2 (10-inch) pie tins. Press the crust into each shell to form a thin, even layer along the bottom and sides of the tins. Set the prepared crusts aside while you prepare the filling.
1 1/2 cups (10.5 ounces) sugar
3/4 cup plus a scant 3 tablespoons (7 ounces) light brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup plus 1 teaspoon (0.75 ounce) milk powder
1 cup (8 ounces / 2 sticks) butter, melted
3/4 cup plus a scant 2 tablespoons heavy cream
1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
8 large egg yolks
2 prepared crusts
Powdered sugar, garnish
1. Heat the oven to 350 degrees.
2. In a large bowl, whisk together the sugar, brown sugar, salt and milk powder. Whisk in the melted butter, then whisk in the heavy cream and vanilla.
3. Gently whisk in the egg yolks, being careful not to add too much air.
4. Divide the filling evenly between the 2 prepared pie shells.
5. Bake the pies, one at a time, for 15 minutes, then reduce the heat to 325 degrees and bake until the filling is slightly jiggly and golden brown (similar to a pecan pie), about 10 minutes. Remove the pies and cool on a rack.
6. Refrigerate the cooled pies until well chilled. The pies are meant to be served cold, and the filling will be gooey. Dust with powdered sugar before serving.