Crack pie was made famous by the likes of Kelly Ripa, Anderson Cooper and The Los Angeles Times, which wrote about the Momofuku Milk Bar confection that retails for $44 in New York City. Ever since I read the story, I became obsessed. Then, Bon Appetit printed the recipe and I fainted.
From what I can tell, crack pie is basically a chess pie with a cookie crust. Chess pie was another confection new to me when I moved to The South. The super-sweet pie is a basic custard sweetened with sugar, vanilla and often includes cornmeal. Crack pie has a similar custard that includes cream and powdered milk (?), but the crust is the key: made out of a giant oatmeal cookie that you crumble and press with butter and more sugar, it gives the pie a salty crumb to mingle with the gooey insides.
I think what makes it addictive is that saltiness. Something about salt, especially when matched with sugar, makes people lose all control.
Before I post the recipe, let’s get something very straight. This pie is rather unattractive. It’s one of those pies that you have to serve with the disclaimer, “But it tastes really good!” or “It cost me $45!”
My most foodiest friend Jeb made this pie recently in his Portland, Ore. home. When I texted him to say the custard had a rather blah, brownish color, he replied, “I dare you to name a more ugly dessert.” Luckily, a dusting of powdered sugar helps disguise that.
And then I had problems with how ooey-gooey it was, making it nearly impossible to cut out a clean slice. Jeb, who is no novice in the kitchen, made me feel better, saying his turned out the same. Perhaps creator Christina Tosi left something out of the recipe so no one could quite copy it? I’ll have to investigate next time I’m in NYC (December!).
From Bon Appetit, I give you…
Oat cookie crust –
- Nonstick cooking spray
- 9 T unsalted butter at room temp
- 5 1/2 T golden brown sugar, packed
- 2 T sugar
- 1 large egg
- 3/4 c. plus 2 T old-fashioned oats
- 1/2 c. flour
- 1/8 tsp baking powder
- 1/8 tsp baking soda
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 3/4 c. sugar
- 1/2 packed brown sugar
- 1 T nonfat dry milk powder
- 1/4 tsp salt
- 1 stick unsalted butter, melted and cooled
- 6 1/2 T heavy whipping cream
- 4 large egg yolks
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- Powdered sugar
(Note: crust can easily be made the day before, which I recommend. Also note that the pie must cool overnight in the fridge before serving.)
Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 13x9x2-inch baking pan with parchment paper; coat with nonstick spray. Combine 6 tablespoons butter, 4 tablespoons brown sugar, and 2 tablespoons sugar in medium bowl. Using electric mixer, beat mixture until light and fluffy, occasionally scraping down sides of bowl, about 2 minutes. Add egg; beat until pale and fluffy. Add oats, flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt and beat until well blended, about 1 minute. Turn oat mixture out onto prepared baking pan; press out evenly to edges of pan (mine was spotty and uneven, but it cooks great). Bake until light golden on top, 17 to 18 minutes (it will still be soft in the middle). Transfer baking pan to rack and cool cookie completely.
Using your hands, crumble oat cookie into large bowl; add 3 tablespoons butter and 1 1/2 tablespoons brown sugar. Rub in with fingertips until mixture is moist enough to stick together. Transfer cookie crust mixture to 9-inch-diameter glass pie dish. Using fingers, press mixture evenly onto bottom and up sides of pie dish as evenly as possible. Place pie dish with crust on rimmed baking sheet.
Now, for the filling.