What my daughter is tucking in to, straight from the pie dish is called Crack Pie. The recipe for which was emailed to me by a very good friend in San Francisco. She was curious as to what this new craze taking over NYC was all about. I promised to make it for her and describe its taste virtually.
So what is Crack Pie you are probably wondering? Well, it was the question on my lips when I considered the list of ingredients and tried to imagine what putting them all together would create. To be clear this pie contains no crack, just butter, heavy cream, brown sugar, sugar and more sugar. And wow is it sweet! Once the mixture has been cooked you kind of have a Pecan Pie without the pecans. But with more oozy goo. I have read it is a variation on Chess Pie, an old Southern favourite, which is similarly sweet and shares many of the same ingredients.
What separates Crack Pie to its counterparts is the oatmeal butter crust that adds a salty component to the experience – something that is not to be underestimated. Isn’t the salt-sweet thing all the rage? Well without it, in this case, you’re taste buds would probably implode.
Crack pie is sold at Momofuku Bakery & Milk Bar and is the creation of its pastry chef, Christina Tosi. If you buy an entire pie from the eatery it will set you back $44 ($6 a slice). Amazingly they sell anywhere between 60 and 90 pies a day. They now send it by Fedex across the country. I guess that says it all.
So why “Crack” Pie. Well let me show you what might happen after induling in it’s mouth numbing delights.
I mean is that normal behaviour? And what about this…
You begin to feel ever so slightly jittery. Your mouth is alive with a silky smooth butter-sugar sensation that you never want to end. Your thoughts are beginning to buzz around your head and nothing seems to make sense. You will probably smile, maybe even giggle but most importantly you will not be able to stop yourself from taking one more spoonful. A life of Crack Pie lies ahead of you and suddenly nothing else matters.
If that’s not food drug then what is?
It’s the kind of think you would imagine Nigella Lawson inhaling during one of her 3am food binges. Straight from the fridge, spoon in hand, dressing gown, slippers, and head hidden by the slightly ajar door. Just don’t try going back to bed as the sugar high lasts for some time.
For me the best thing about Crack Pie was the look of amazement on my children’s faces when I told them that was what I was baking. And after they got over the “wow my mom just said ‘crack’” moment the giggles that ensued. Of course to them crack means an all together different thing and for that I am grateful. But how great is it to say to your 11 year old son when he comes home tired and emotional from a day at school, “Don’t worry honey just have some Crack (Pie).” Or is that just me…
Momofuku’s Crack Pie
A few things you may want to know before attempting this recipe.
Currently there is much discussion on the Internet as to it’s actual ingredients. In an interview with Christina Tosi, she mentions the addition of corn starch/flour. However this item does not appear on any of the published recipes. Adding a couple of teaspoons to the filling might be an option to help with the setting process.
You want to have a very thin layer of the filling in your pie crust. Too much and it will not set. I know this from experience (see photos above). If you’re pie tin has a high edge to it like mine (about two inches) then just fill it up halfway. As the recipe is enough for two pies, don’t decide, like me, to just put it all in to the one dish! Unless you like your pie extra gooey of course.
And finally, a health warning. Don’t eat this if you have a heart condition. It just wouldn’t be smart!
As adapted from Momofuku
Cookie Base (for crust)
2/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon flour
1/8 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup softened butter
1/3 cup light brown sugar
3 tablespoons sugar
1 cup rolled oats
Heat the oven to 375 degrees.
In a medium bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
In a separate bowl mix together the butter, brown sugar and sugar until light and fluffy.
Using a whisk mix the egg into the butter mixture until fully incorporated.
Mix in the flour mixture, a little at a time, until fully combined. Stir in the oats until incorporated.
Spread the mixture onto a lined 9-inch-by-13-inch baking sheet and bake until golden brown and set, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat and leave to cool.
1/4 cup butter
1 1/2 tablespoons brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
Crumble the cookie crust in to a food processor. Add in the butter, brown sugar and salt and pulse until it resembles bread crumbs and clumps together when pressed between your fingers. 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. Put the prepared crusts in the refrigerator while you prepare the filling.
1 1/2 cups sugar
3/4 cup plus 3 tablespoons light brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup plus 1 teaspoon milk powder
1 cup butter, melted
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons double/heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
8 egg yolks
Icing sugar to garnish
Heat oven to 350 degrees.
In a large bowl, whisk together the sugar, brown sugar, salt and milk powder. Whisk in the melted butter, then whisk in the cream and vanilla.
Gently whisk in the egg yolks, being careful not to add too much air.
Divide the filling evenly between the 2 prepared pie shells.
Bake the pies 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), a further 15-20 minutes. (If it begins to get too brown before it has finished cooking put a layer of foil over the top.) Remove the pies and cool on a rack.
The pies need to be refrigerated so that they are chilled and set. The pies are meant to be served cold, and the filling will be slightly gooey. Dust with powdered sugar before serving. Eat with spoons straight from the dish.
Here’s a link to mini crack pies straight from the Momofuku blog http://momofukula.blogspot.com/2010/02/crack-pie-minis.html.
And for the really enthusiastic here’s a link to a video of Christina Tosi making Crack Pie on television http://www.nbcnewyork.com/shows/lxnewyork/Christina_Tosi_Makes_Crack_Pie_All__National_.html. This also includes the recipe in grammes.