There’s a growing trend in restaurants and food chains these days to try and make their food as “homemade” looking as possible [*read: plain, inconsistent, and usually ugly]. Why? Because people are rebelling against processed foods, and for good reason. But it’s not just Domino’s and McDonald’s who’ve noticed this.
During Thanksgiving a friend and I were distributing some cupcakes I had made: One was a gingerbread cupcake and one was a chocolate peppermint cupcake. I was a little ashamed of the gingerbread batch because the frosting wasn’t that stiff, so I just threw on a sugar decoration. However, I worked my A** OFF getting the peppermint frosting to look like the best @^%$_&@! candy cane anyone’s freaking seen.
Look how I buried the gingerbread in the background.
Can you guess what happened? That’s right: No one touched my beautiful peppermint lovelies. Everyone wanted the frumpy gingerbread. My friend, noticing that I was going from pouty to full-on bitch face, explained to me that times are a’ changin’ and no one wants to eat food-colored processed-looking foods…no matter if they’re TEDIOUSLY BAKED FROM SCRATCH. [Clearly I never think about this experience. Ever.]
Milk Bar became famous for many reasons, all of them legit, but the one that shot the tiny dessert shop into fame was the creation of Christina Tosi’s Crack Pie.
I had seen this pie in photos and I’ll be honest-it looked like sh-t run over twice. “Who would eat this?” I puzzled, “It doesn’t even have fruit in it!”
Ahhhh. But then I went to NYC for my birthday in February this year and sampled a little of everything from Milk Bar that I’ve obsessed over for months. And even though I had one of the largest, most expensive food babies the city had to offer, I had to see what all these critics and magazines were raving about.
HO-LY FU-K! I think I blacked out because before I knew it the pie was gone and I was whimpering in distress “Where did it go?!”
So without further ado, I bring you Milk Bar’s Crack Pie, straight from her cookbook Milk. [*Note: It’s important that you use this recipe from her actual cookbook. Many of the recipes for Crack Pie, including those in foodie magazines, are incorrect-they leave out 1-2 critical “secret” ingredients that Tosi only included in her cookbook. And yes, I know what you’re thinking. And no, it’s not actual crack ;)]
In the words of Mama June, “It don’t have to be fancy to be good.” 😉
- Stand mixer
- Parchment or a Silpat
- Quarter sheet pan or larger
- Food processor
- Spice grinder [optional]
Oat Cookie Crust:
- 1 stick unsalted butter, rm. temp.
- 1/3 cup tightly packed light brown sugar
- 3 Tbl. white sugar
- 1 egg yolk
- 1/2 cup flour
- 1 1/2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
- 1/8 tsp. baking powder
- Pinch of baking soda
- 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
- 1 1/2 cups white sugar
- 3/4 cup tightly packed light brown sugar
- 1/4 cup milk powder [This is just nonfat milk powder you can find in any grocery store]
- 1/4 cup corn powder [Corn powder is NOT the same as corn flour or cornmeal. Tosi’s corn powder is made by grinding-this is where I used my spice grinder-freeze dried yellow corn, which you can find on Amazon. DO NOT skip this ingredient; it gives the pie its unique texture and flavor!]
- 1 1/2 tsp. kosher salt
- 2 sticks unsalted butter, melted
- 3/4 cup heavy cream
- 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
- 8 egg yolks [DO NOT get any whites mixed in with your yolks, since this will decrease the density of your pie. Separate the yolks from the whites by sifting the whites through your fingers].
This is what the corn powder should look like.
- 1 Tbl. tightly packed light brown sugar
- 1/4 tsp. kosher salt
- 4 Tbl. unsalted butter, melted
- Confectioner’s sugar for dusting
Make the oat crust:
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Combine the butter and sugars in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and cream together on medium-high for 2-3 min. until fluffy and pale yellow. Scrap down sides of the bowl. On low speed, add the yolk and increase the speed to medium-high and beat 1-2 min., until the sugar granules fully dissolve and the mix is a pale white.
On low speed, add the flour, oats, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Mix for a min. until the dough comes together and any remnants of dry ingredients have been incorporated. Pam-spray a quarter sheet pan and line with parchment or just use a Silpat. Plop the dough in the center of the pan and, with a spatula, spread it out until it’s 1/4-inch thick. The dough won’t cover the entire pan; this is OK.
Bake for 15 min. or until it resembles an oatmeal cookie-caramelized on top and puffed slightly but set firmly. Cool completely. [*Note: Wrapped in plastic, the cookie will keep in the fridge up to 1 week]
Line your pie shells:
Put the oat cookie, brown sugar, and salt in a food processor and pulse until the cookie is broken down into a wet sand. Transfer the crumbs to a bowl, add the butter, and knead the butter and cookie mix until moist enough to form a ball [*Note: If it is not moist enough to do so, melt an additional 1-1 1/2 Tbl. butter and knead it in].
Wet sand crust.
Make the filling:
Combine the sugar, brown sugar, milk powder, corn powder, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and mix on LOW speed until evenly blended.
Add the melted butter and paddle for 2-3 min. on LOW until all the dry ingredients are moist.
Add the heavy cream and vanilla and continue mixing on LOW for 2-3 min. until any white streaks from the cream have disappeared. Scrape down sides of the bowl. Add the yolks, paddling them into the mix just to combine [*Note: Be careful not to aerate the mix, but be certain the mix is glossy and homogenous. Mix on low speed until it is. Filling can be kept up to 1 week stored in the fridge in an airtight container].
Bake the pie:
Divide the filling evenly between the 2 crusts. The filling should fill them 3/4 of the way full. Bake for 15 min. only! The pies should be golden brown on top but still very jiggly.
Open the oven door and reduce the oven temp. to 325 degrees. When the oven reaches this temp. [after roughly 5 min.], close the door and bake the pies for 5 min. longer. The pies should still be jiggly in the center but not around the outer edges [*Note: It took me more like 10-15 min. to get this consistency, so just keep checking].
Gently take the pies out and transfer to a rack to cool to rm. temp. Then freeze your pies for at least 3 hours, or overnight, to condense the filling. Take out of the freezer and let sit in the fridge a few hours [Well-wrapped, the pies will keep 5 days in the fridge and up to 1 month in the freezer].
Serve the pie cold! Decorate with sifted confectioner’s sugar if desired.