Thursday, February 18, 2010

Heaven on Earth/Crack Pie

This recipe was published in the LA Times on February 11th and I made it on February 12th. I am surprised I even managed to hold out that long, but somehow I waited patiently until I had enough time to devote to what was nothing short of a ritual experience. The Momofuku restaurants in New York have been my favorites for the past few years; in other words, since I discovered them. Every meal I have had there has been superlative and although I would give you a rundown of every delicious bite, that's not what this post is about. You see, first there were the restaurants, but then came the Milk Bar. At first I was intrigued by their signature cereal milk, but when I finally managed to get down there I learned that this bakery was so much more than a Milk Bar. As a living person, it seemed more or less like heaven on earth.

Corn cookies (now retired, but I still miss them deeply), Banana Cake with hazelnut crunch, cinnamon bun pie; all of these have graced the Milk Bar's menu. I assure you that anything that leaves the ovens of this bakery is sure to be outstanding. Excessive? Yes. Startling sweet? Yes. Buttery and rich? Yes and Yes. For this reason, going there is not a day-to-day occurrence but an occasion and a treat. And a treat it is, every single time I go. Every visitor I have had in New York gets to taste their delicacies and I am pretty sure everyone I know has heard me rave about it at least once. And finally, on February 12th I had the chance to recreate some of the exquisite deliciousness that exemplifies the Momofuku Milk Bar. Crack pie is one of their signature dishes, yet one of the few things I have never tasted en place. Well, from 300 miles north it tasted pretty unbelievable and I have a whole group of friends who still have the sugar high to prove it.

So why 'crack pie'? Because it's addictive and so good, like crack. The "cracki-ness" comes from the slightly salty toasted oatmeal cookie crust. It also comes from the luscious, buttery and sugary center and from the way part of the crust absorbs the filling creating a chewy marriage of flavors and textures that is more or less indescribable. In my case the "cracki-ness" (god, I love that word) also comes from the fact that I doubled the salt in all the parts of the recipe, making the salty-sweet balance even more desirable. This is only my humble opinion and I definitely had to think twice before tweaking it, this is a Momofuku recipe after all. Basically, what I am trying to tell you is that this recipe is worth the multiple steps and the infinite calories. If you know Momofuku you'll know why I say this and if you don't, stop reading and get in your kitchen right now, you'll thank me.

Momofuku's Crack Pie
( from the LA Times, who got it from Christina Tosi at Momofuku)
yields 2, 10-inch pies, 6-8 servings each.

Cookie for crust ingredients:
2/3 c. plus 1 tbsp. (3 ounces) flour
Scant 1/8 tsp. baking powder
Scant 1/8 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt (original recipe calls for 1/4 tsp.)
1/2 c. (1 stick) softened butter
1/3 c. (2 1/2 ounces) light brown sugar
3 tbsp. (1 1/4 ounces) sugar
1 egg
Scant 1 c. (3 1/2 ounces) rolled oats

Cookie Directions:
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.

Crust Ingredients:
Crumbled cookie for crust
1/4 c. (1/2 stick) butter
1 1/2 tbsp. (3/4 ounce) brown sugar
1/4 tsp. salt (original recipe called for 1/8 tsp.)

Crust Directions:
1) 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).
2) 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.
3) Set the prepared crusts aside while you prepare the filling (I set them in the fridge).

Filling Ingredients:
1 1/2 c. (10 1/2 ounces) sugar
3/4 c. plus a scant 3 tbsp. (7 ounces) light brown sugar
1/2 tsp. salt (original recipe calls for 1/4 tsp.)
1/3 c. plus 1 tsp. (3/4 ounce) milk powder
1 c. (2 sticks) butter, melted
3/4 c. plus a scant 2 tbsp. heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
8 egg yolks
2 prepared crusts

Final Directions:
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.


Your fellow New Yorker Friend said...

All I can say is this cake was unreal Frenchie. I was so delighted to try it. You did Momofuku proud!

Donalyn said...

Hi - thanks for stopping by my blog and for commenting on the rutabaga. Does freezing it work well? I had always heard that freezing it made it watery. Do you freeze it cooked or raw?

And I've seen this pie all over the place the past few weeks - will have to give it a try!

And - you may want to check out my other site,, a food photo submission site.

my spatula said...

this sounds AMAZING. crack pie, yes please!

Maria said...

I'll take a slice ... or two!