Thanksgiving Pie – Toffee Blonde Pie with Cinnamon Toast Crumb Crust, Pumpkin Ganache & Boozy Cranberry Sauce

November 22, 2016

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I’m sure you already know this but…Thanksgiving is upon us! It is time to get all your menus for the big day finalized and you just might want to start cooking! But before you make that final shopping run, I wanted to share a great dessert recipe with you. I call it “Thanksgiving Pie”. Now I’m sure there are a lot of folks out there who consider Pumpkin Pie or even Sweet Potato Pie to be their “Thanksgiving Pie”. I get that. But they haven’t tasted this Thanksgiving Pie. In fact, I’d wager that with one little forkful, this pie would be able to wrest that title away from any other contender. You see my Thanksgiving Pie is actually a Toffee Blonde Pie with Cinnamon Toast Crumb Crust, and a Pumpkin Ganache topping. And as if that wasn’t enough, I serve it with a garnish of Boozy Cranberry Sauce drizzled over the top. You see….that title is ridiculously long winded. Hence, Thanksgiving Pie. Or maybe you could call it “Special Thanksgiving Pie”.

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It has got all of those iconic Thanksgiving flavors going on, the pumpkin, the cinnamon, the cranberry. Yum, yum yum! I got the idea for this amazing pie from Chef Christina Tosi in her Momofuku Milk Bar Cookbook. If you look, you won’t see a recipe for this actual pie there. I cobbled it together from various recipes listed there. The cookbook is designed around “mother recipes” and then lists variations you can take to build on that recipe. There are definitely some tried and true Momufuku Milk Bar favorites listed there, but you can also get creative with the flavor profiles and come up with your own favorites.

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Now keep in mind, there are a few steps involved here in making this masterpiece. You definitely must plan ahead because I know things tend to get really hectic this time of year. But there is still plenty of time, no worries whatsoever. And you can make the Blonde Pie Filling and Pumpkin Ganache ahead of time and then just make the crust and assemble when you are ready. It can all be done the day before the big day and just be chilling somewhere.

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Once folks are just starting to slip into their Turkey Comas but still want a little dessert before completely losing consciousness, voila! You will be ready with the Thanksgiving Pie of their dreams!

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Thanksgiving Pie - Toffee Blonde Pie with Cinnamon Toast Crumb Crust, Pumpkin Ganache & Boozy Cranberry Sauce

  • Servings: 1 Ten inch pie 8-10 slices
  • Difficulty: moderate - a lot of steps and recipes within recipes
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recipe cobbled together from various Christina Tosi recipes found in the Momofuku Milk Bar Cookbook

Ingredients:

For the Cinnamon Toast Crumb Crust:

  • 2 sticks unsalted butter
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 4 cups diced crusts and end pieces from 1 loaf of packaged white bread (10 ounces of crusts)

For the Blonde Pie filling:

  • 160 grams (5 1/2 oz.) white chocolate
  • 55 grams (4 Tablespoons) unsalted butter
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 40 grams (3 Tablespoons) sugar
  • 105 grams (1/2 cup) heavy cream
  • 52 grams (1/3 cup) flour
  • 1 cup toffee chips
  • 4 grams (1 teaspoon) kosher salt

For the pumpkin ganache:

  • 150 grams (5 1/4 oz.) white chocolate
  • 25 grams (2 tablespoons) butter
  • 50 grams (2 tablespoons) glucose ( no glucose? substitute 18 grams (1 Tablespoon) corn syrup
  • 55 grams (1/4 cup) cold heavy cream
  • 75 grams (1/3 cup) Libby’s pumpkin puree
  • 4 grams (1 teaspoon) salt
  • 1 gram (1/2 teaspoon) cinnamon

For the garnish:

  • Fresh cranberry sauce (optional. You can use store-bought cranberry sauce or if you aren’t already spending enough time on this pie and you can’t bear to leave the kitchen yet – see Cranberry Sauce recipe below)

Directions:

Make the Crust:

Preheat the oven to 325° F. In a saucepan, melt the butter. Cook over moderate heat, stirring, until the butter is golden brown, about 8 minutes; strain into a glass measuring cup.

Pour half of the melted butter into a bowl. Add the sugar, salt, cinnamon and chopped bread, and toss. Spread the mixture on a baking sheet and bake for 35 minutes, stirring once or twice, until golden. Let cool.

Rewarm the remaining butter. Place Cinnamon Crunch croutons in a food processor. Pour the remaining butter over the croutons. Pulse until fine crumbs form. Place the crumbs into a 10-inch pie plate. Refrigerate for 5 minutes. Press the crumbs evenly over the bottom and sides of the pie plate. Refrigerate the crust until chilled, 15 minutes.

Make the Toffee Blonde Pie Filling:

Combine the white chocolate and butter in a microwave-safe bowl and gently melt them on medium, in 30 second increments, stirring between blasts. Once melted, whisk the mixture until smooth.

Put the egg yolks and sugar in a medium bowl and whisk together until smooth. Pour in the white chocolate mixture and whisk to combine. Slowly drizzle in the heavy cream and whisk to combine.

Stir the flour, toffee chips, and salt together in a small bowl, then carefully fold them into the filling. Use immediately, or store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.

Make the Pumpkin Ganache:

Combine the white chocolate and butter in a microwave safe dish and gently melt them in the microwave in 15 second bursts, stirring between blasts. The result should be barely warm to the touch and totally homogeneous.

Transfer the chocolate mixture to a container that can accommodate and immersion blender (yes, it must be an immersion blender, Chef Tosi insists!) – something tall and narrow. Warm the glucose in the microwave for 15 seconds, then immediately add to the chocolate mixture and buzz with the hand blender. After a minute, stream in the heavy cream, with the hand blender running – the mixture will come together into something silky, shiny and smooth.

Blend in the pumpkin puree, salt and cinnamon. Put the ganache in the fridge to firm up before using, at least 4 hours, or ideally, overnight. Stored in an airtight container, pumpkin ganache will keep fresh in the fridge for 1 week.

Assemble the pie:

Once your Cinnamon Toast Crumb Crust has chilled, fill it with the cooled Toffee Blonde Pie filling. Use a spatula to smooth top. Place cooled Pumpkin Ganache in a piping bag fitted with a star tip. Pipe ganache over the top of the pie. If you would rather, you can simply use a spatula to smooth the ganache over the top of the Toffee Blonde Pie filling. Serve with a side of Boozy Cranberry Sauce if you desire. (and why wouldn’t you….)

Enjoy!

Thanksgiving Pie brought to you by: Runcible Eats (www.leaandjay.com)

Boozy Cranberry Sauce

Ingredients:

  • 12 ounces, weight Fresh Cranberries
  • 3/4 cups Granulated Sugar
  • 1 Tablespoon Loosely Packed Orange Zest
  • 1/2 cup Freshly Squeezed Orange Juice
  • 1 stick Cinnamon
  • 1/2 cup quality Bourbon

Directions:

Pick through the cranberries, removing any stems or berries that don’t look plump and ripe. Rinse the remaining cranberries well, then place them in a heavy bottomed saucepan with the sugar, orange zest, orange juice, and cinnamon stick. Stir to combine, then place the pan over medium heat. Cover the pan with a lid and cook for 15 minutes, stirring every 5 minutes or so.

After 15 minutes, the cranberries should all have burst. Remove the pan from the heat. The sauce will look very liquidy, but will thicken as it cools. After the sauce has cooled completely, stir in the bourbon. Remove the cinnamon stick and serve the cranberry sauce at room temperature or chilled.

Cranberry sauce can be made 2–3 days ahead of time.

Links to Useful Kitchen tools and Ingredients for Thanksgiving Pie:

Momofuku Milk Bar Cookbook

OXO Good Grips Stainless Steel Food Scale

Cuisinart Pro-Classic Food Processor

Kitchen Aid Hand Blender

Heath Bits O’Brickle Toffee Bits

Libby’s Pumpkin Puree (This link is for 6 -15 oz. cans. Way more than you need for this recipe. However, you can at least see what it looks like here and then maybe find it in your local market or heck, get all 6 and be ready anytime a pumpkin need arises)

Glucose

 


Pretzel Ice Cream Pie

September 16, 2016

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Pretzel Ice Cream Pie! What can I say…Another winner from the Momofuku Milk Bar Cookbook! All you pretzel lovers out there need to sit up and take notice because this decadent dessert packs quite the pretzel punch. First let me tell you about the the crust. Well it’s made of magical Pretzel Crunch which is pretzels crumbled up with butter, sugar and malt powder. Crunchy, buttery, sweet & salty bliss! I found it to be nearly as addictive as the Cornflake Crunch that I encountered when I made those Milk Bar Cornflake Marshmallow Chocolate Chip Cookies. So yeah, I probably could have just sat there and gobbled up all of the pie crust then and there, but thank goodness I was able to control myself because this glorious pie shell is filled with this unbelievably delectable Pretzel Ice Cream. Now this isn’t vanilla ice cream that has some pretzel pieces thrown into it. Oh no. This is pretzel flavoured ice cream, made with pretzel infused milk, which I had no idea was even possible. But it is! And once you’ve tasted it, you’ll be hooked! This ice cream is very rich, sweet and salty and has a deep malty pretzel flavour. It  feels amazingly smooth and creamy in your mouth. Chef Tosi attributes this texture to using gelatin rather than eggs when making the ice cream base. The only thing I added was a drizzle of dark chocolate over the top of the pie. Truly the best ice cream pie I’ve ever encountered!

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Now I’m not going to lie to you, making this pie was a good deal of work. I certainly wouldn’t just happen to make one on a whim. As with most Chef Tosi recipes, you actually have to make a couple of recipes for ingredients before you can make the dish you are actually trying to create. And then there are always some odd ingredients that you may need to order online before you get started. With this particular recipe I had to turn to amazon to get glucose. I know, there is a notation that you can substitute corn syrup for glucose, but I have definitely learned a couple of things while working with the Momofuku Milk Bar cookbook. You have to follow those recipes closely or you will be disappointed. To that end, I am leery of substituting anything. I stick with the ingredients Chef Tosi intended be used and measure all ingredients exactly using a scale. If you are rather slap dash in the kitchen, I admire you but your success will likely be somewhat fleeting. But those with an eye to detail who are happy to plan ahead, will be fully rewarded with the abundance of mouthwatering morsels to be found in this magical cookbook.

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So I suppose that this Pretzel Ice Cream Pie is more of an occasion dessert. I originally made it for the husband’s birthday. Loving pretzels and sweet & salty combinations, he was very pleased.

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I can definitely see serving this for a non-traditional Thanksgiving Day dessert. I’m sure a few folks out there are a bit weary of good old Pumpkin Pie. Or it would be very welcome at a big Super Bowl party. Whatever you do, find some time to make this amazing treat. It is soooo worth it!

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Pretzel Ice Cream Pie

  • Servings: One 10 inch pie 8 - 10 servings
  • Difficulty: easy but many steps and recipes within recipes
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Recipe from: Momofuku Milk Bar cookbook by Chef Christina Tosi

Ingredients:

  • 1 recipe Pretzel Crunch (recipe to follow)
  • 25 grams (2 Tablespoons) butter, melted
  • 1 recipe Pretzel Ice Cream (recipe to follow)
  • 1/4 cup chocolate chips – for drizzle (optional)

Directions:

Using your hands (or a food processor if you prefer), crumble the pretzel crunch clusters to half their size. (The smaller size will make for better distribution of the moisture and fat, creating a nice crunchy crust.)

Toss the melted butter into the crumbled pretzel crunch, mixing well. Using your fingers and the palms of your hands, press the mixture firmly into a 10-inch pie tin, making sure the bottom and sides of the pie tin are evenly covered. Wrapped in plastic, the crust can be frozen for up to 2 weeks.

Use a spatula to spread the ice cream into the pie shell. If you would like to drizzle a bit of chocolate over the top of the pie as I did, simply melt about 1/4 cup of chocolate chips of your choice. (I used dark chocolate). You can do this in a double boiler or simply melt it in the microwave in 10 -15 second bursts. Let cool slightly. Either drizzle the chocolate free hand or if you are a bit obsessive compulsive you can place it in a pastry bag and thereby do a much more controlled drizzle.

Freeze the pie for at least 3 hours, or until the ice cream is frozen hard enough so the pie is easy to cut and serve. Wrapped in plastic wrap, the pie will keep for 2 weeks in the freezer.

Pretzel Crunch

Yield: 2 cups

Ingredients:

  • 100 grams (about 1/4 (16-ounce) bag (2 cups)) mini pretzels
  • 60 grams (1/4 cup tightly packed) light brown sugar
  • 25 grams (2 tablespoons) sugar
  • 20 grams (1/4 cup) milk powder
  • 10 grams (1 tablespoon) malt powder
  • 100 grams ( 7 tablespoons) butter, melted

Directions:

Heat the oven to 275°F.

Pour the pretzels in a medium bowl and crush them with your hands to one-quarter of their original size. Add the milk powder, malt powder, sugar, and salt and toss to mix. Add the butter and toss to coat. As you toss, the butter will act as glue, binding the dry ingredients to the pretzels and creating small clusters.

Spread the clusters on a parchment- or Silpat-lined sheet pan and bake for 20 minutes, at which point they should look toasted, smell buttery, and crunch gently when cooled slightly and chewed.

Cool the pretzel crunch completely before storing or using in a recipe. Stored in an airtight container at room temperature, the crunch will keep fresh for 1 week; in the fridge or freezer, it will keep for 1 month.

Pretzel Ice Cream

Ingredients:

  • 300 grams (about 3/4 (16-ounce) bag, (6 cups)  mini pretzels
  • 440 grams (2 cups) milk
  • 1 1/2 gelatin sheets
  • 200 grams (1/2 cup) glucose (75 grams (1/4 cup) of corn syrup can be substituted)
  • 30 grams (2 tablespoons tightly packed) light brown sugar
  • 45 grams (1 1/2 ounces) cream cheese
  • 2 grams ( 1/2 teaspoon) kosher salt
  • 0.75 grams (1/8 teaspoon) baking soda

Directions:

Heat the oven to 300°F

Spread the pretzels on a sheet pan and toast for 15 minutes, until the pretzels have slightly darkened in color and your kitchen smells pretzely. Cool completely.

Put the pretzels in a large bowl, pour the milk over them, and stir while steeping for 2 minutes.

Strain the milk mixture through a fine-mesh sieve and discard the soggy pieces of pretzel.

Bloom the gelatin. Place the sheet gelatin in a small bowl of cold water. It has bloomed when it has become soft, after about 2 minutes. If it still has bard bits, it has not bloomed long enough. If it completely falls apart, it has overbloomed. Gently squeeze the bloomed gelatin to remove any excess water. *Powdered gelatin can be substituted for the sheet gelatin: use 3/4 teaspoon. Sprinkle it evenly over the surface of 2 tablespoons of cold water in a small cup. Allow the granules to soften entirely for 3 -5 minutes.

Warm a little bit of the pretzel milk and whisk in the gelatin to dissolve. Add the remaining pretzel milk, glucose, brown sugar, cream cheese, salt, and baking soda and whisk until all of the ingredients are fully dissolved and incorporated.

Pour the mixture into your ice cream machine and freeze according to the manufacturer’s instructions. The ice cream is best spun just before serving or using, but it will keep in an airtight container in the freezer for up to 2 weeks.

Enjoy!

Pretzel Ice Cream Pie brought to you by Runcible Eats (www.leaandjay.com)

Links to Useful Kitchen Tools & Ingredients for Pretzel Ice Cream Pie:

King Arthur Flour Malted Milk Powder

Perfecta Gel Silver Gelatin Sheets

Glucose

Cuisinart 2 Quart Frozen Yogurt Sorbet & Ice Cream Maker

Momofuku Milk Bar Cookbook


Milk Bar’s Cornflake Chocolate Chip Marshmallow Cookies

September 23, 2015

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I think I have actually reached cookie nirvana. I mean I like cookies…pretty much never met one that I turned my nose up at. But these cookies…oh my god!!! They’ve got it all. Crunchy and chewy, sweet and salty, chock full of gooey marshmallows and shot through with little tidbits of chocolate and crispy Cornflake Crunch (oh…I’ll talk about that Cornflake Crunch bit of the recipe in just a sec…). These cookies will take you back to those lovely slow saturday mornings when you were a kid and just sat around with a bowl of cereal, zoning out on cartoons. They’re a bit like a s’more…’cept totally different. Unique I tell you. And irresistible! I could not stop eating them. Rather addictive you might say. Perhaps it is not surprizing then that the recipe comes from Chef Christina Tosi’s Momofuku Milk Bar cook book. She is the amazing chef responsible for Crack Pie, which I tried my hand at awhile ago. And since these cookies have a name which is very descriptive, yet a mouthful to get out, I’ve taken to calling them “Cookie Crack” which I feel is pretty dang accurate!

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Now I will tell you right away, these cookies have gained a reputation amongst the online food bloggers as being quite finicky. So I was verrrrrrrry careful to follow chef Tosi’s instructions to a T and didn’t really have any problems. The only thing I actually changed was the size of the cookie – chef Tosi recommends scooping out 1/3 cup cookie dough per cookie which gives you a complete monster cookie. Cool perhaps and exactly what you might want if you are buying one in a cafe, but I wanted a smaller around the house sized cookie so I went with a 1 tablespoon sized scoop. I also reduced the baking temperature to 350°F and the time to 12 minutes. The original recipe calls for 375° for 18 minutes, which would have set off all the fire alarms between here and New York if I had attempted that for my smaller sized cookies. I will say though, once you reach the baking stage, you need to watch these cookies like a hawk. I’m serious. Don’t start trying to do some other chores in another room, don’t get caught up face booking or twittering. Mind the cookies! They seem to have a knack at going from “oh it’s slightly golden, I’ll give it a few more minutes” to ” good lord where is the fire extinguisher” in no time at all! Remember also that you need to let the cookies cool a bit on the baking sheet before transferring them to a cooling rack and they will continue to cook a bit while sitting on that hot sheet, so maybe take them out of the oven just a bit before you would say they were perfectly done.

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I should at this point also give you a few bits of advice concerning Milk Bar Recipes that may be helpful. You should just know going into it that all of Chef Tosi’s recipes are like those Russian Matryoshka dolls, there is always one or two recipes to be found inside the final recipe. So with these cookies, you will first need to make up a batch of Cornflake Crunch which you will then crumble up and add into the cookie dough. But let me stop here for just a second to tell you about the glory of that Cornflake Crunch…It is a big part of what makes these cookies so awesome. Crunchy, sweet and salty joy! The recipe will actually yield more Crunch than you need to make the cookies, which is a good thing because it is dang near impossible to stop eating it, like straight off of the cookie sheet. With what I did manage to save I have used to top ice cream, have sprinkled it over yogurt and oatmeal as well as used it to gussy up a tried and true classic dessert (stand by for that recipe in the not too distant future 😉 ). Trust me, you will not be sad that there is a little bit extra Cornflake Crunch.

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The next thing I should mention is that although Chef Tosi does provide both european style weight measurements in grams as well as american style cup measurements for all of her recipes, you really need to go with the weight measurements. Now don’t get me wrong, I have always admired the cooks who could just play loose and fast with all the ingredients and still have delicious morsels spill forth from their kitchens. However, those folks won’t do well with a Milk Bar recipe. Precision is what is required here and my scooped cup of flour, I can almost guarantee you will be different from the next persons. So bite the bullet and get out there and buy a good old scale. Once you get the hang of it you won’t dream of going back! Measurements are not the only bit you need to focus on either. There are some techniques which must be executed exactly as well in order to enjoy success. The first is creaming  the butter. Chef Tosi insists on a ten minute creaming process. She goes into great detail explaining why in the cookbook, which if you haven’t bought yet, you just don’t know what you’re missing out on! But suffice it to say, she considers the creaming step the most important one in making a Milk Bar cookie.

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Also important with these cookies is the chilling time. When she says chill the dough for one hour, she is serious. Do not bake these cookies at room temperature, because you will be so sorry. I actually chilled my cookie dough overnight, just to be sure! So there you have it! All of my cautionary advice for making these delicious Cornflake-Chocolate Chip-Marshmallow Cookies. It’s really not that difficult and for all that focus and concentration you will be rewarded with a batch of unbelievably tasty cookies. Chewy and crunchy, covered with pools of gooey bubbly marshmallow, and flaked with chocolate. Cookie Crack extraordinaire! Get baking!!!

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Milk Bar's Cornflake Chocolate Chip Marshmallow Cookies

  • Difficulty: easy - but several steps and remember to allow for chill time in the fridge. Please read above blog for tips and hints for success.
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recipe slightly adapted from: Momofuku Milk Bar cookbook

Ingredients:

  • 225 gram (16 tablespoons/2 sticks) butter, at room temperature
  • 250 grams (1 1/4 cup) granulated sugar
  • 150 grams (2/3 cup) tightly packed light brown sugar
  • 1 egg
  • 2 grams (1/2 teaspoon) vanilla extract
  • 240 grams (1 1/2 Cup) flour
  • 2 grams (1/2 teaspoon) baking powder
  • 1.5 grams (1/4 teaspoon) baking soda
  • 5 grams (1 1/4 teaspoon) kosher salt
  • 270 grams (3 cups) Cornflake Crunch (recipe to follow)
  • 125 grams (2/3 cup) mini chocolate chips
  • 65 grams (1 1/4 cup) mini marshmallows

Directions:

Combine the butter and sugars in the bowl of a standard mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and cream together on medium-high for 2 to 3 minutes. Scrape down the sides of the bowl, add the egg and vanilla, and beat for 7 to 8 minutes.

Reduce the mixer speed to low and add the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Mix just until the dough comes together, no longer than 1 minute. (Do not walk away from the machine during this step or you will risk overmixing the dough.) Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula.

Still on low-speed, paddle in the Cornflake Crunch and mini chocolate chips just until they’re incorporated, no more than 30 to 45 seconds. Paddle in the mini marshmallow just  until incorporated.

Using a 2 3/4 ounce (NSF #16) ice cream scoop (or a 1/3 cup measure) portion out the dough onto a parchment-lined sheet pan. This sized scoop will yield jumbo sized cookies. I prefer to use a 1 Tablespoon (NSF#40) cookie scoop. The cookies are still good sized (about 3 to 3 1/2″ across). Pat the tops of the cookie dough domes flat. Wrap the sheet pan tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 1 hour, or up to 1 week. Do not bake your cookies from room temperature- they will not hold their shape!

Heat the oven to 350°F.

Arrange the chilled dough a minimum of 4 inches apart on parchment-or silpat lined sheet pans. Bake for 13 minutes. the cookies will puff, crackle and spread. At the 13 minutes mark, the cookies should be browned on the edges and just beginning to brown toward the center. Leave them in the oven for an additional minute or so if they aren’t and still seem pale and doughy on the surface.

Cool the cookies completely on the sheet pans before transferring to a plate or to an airtight container for storage. At room temperature, the cookies will keep fresh for 5 days; in the freezer they will keep for 1 month.

Cornflake Crunch

yield: 360 grams (4 cups)

Ingredients:

  • 170 grams (5 cups) cornflakes
  • 40 grams (1/2 cup) milk powder
  • 40 grams (3 Tablespoons) sugar
  • 4 grams (1 teaspoon) kosher salt
  • 130 grams (9 tablespoons) butter, melted

Directions:

Heat the oven to 275°F.

Pour the cornflakes in a medium bowl and crush them with your hands to one-quarter of their original size. Add the milk powder, sugar and salt and toss to mix. Add the butter and toss to coat. As you toss, the butter will act as glue, binding the dry ingredients to the cereal and creating small clusters.

Spread the clusters on a parchment or Silpat-lined sheet pan and bake for 20 minutes, at which point they should look toasted, smell buttery, and crunch gently when cooled slightly and chewed

 Cool the Cornflake Crunch completely before storing or using in a recipe. Stored in an airtight container at room temperature, the crunch will keep fresh for 1 week; in the fridge or freezer, it will keep for 1 month.

Enjoy!

Milk Bar’s Cornflake Chocolate Chip Marshmallow Cookies brought to you by: Runcible Eats (www.leaandjay.com)


Crack Pie

February 1, 2015

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I’m so excited! Tomorrow my favourite varmint, Punxsutawney Phil, will be stepping out of his burrow at Gobbler’s Knob and letting everyone know if there will be 6 more weeks of winter or if perhaps Spring is one the way. Groundhog Day is nigh! The chances that he will see his shadow tomorrow in Pennsylvania, thus heralding the arrival of Spring, are not favourable. There is a big snow event happening up in that neck of the woods today and tomorrow. I guess we’ll just have to wait and see what he has to say. Phil has been correct in his prognostications for the past two winters!

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One extraordinary rodent!

Phil & all the folks up in Punxsutawney aren’t the only folks celebrating now. February 1st, which falls half way between Winter Solstice and Spring Equinox, also marks the festivals of Imbolc, St. Brigid’s Day and Candlemas, all of which are associated with fertility, fire, purification and weather divination. Quite an auspicious time of year! I’m very happy to be marking an event today as well. February 1st just happens to be the 4th year anniversary of  the my cooking blog! Yup… Four years ago today I posted my first recipe. It was for Cream Tea Scones with Currants.

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I had been blogging for a little while at that point, but not about food. I originally started this blog as a way to get information out to folks who were planning to travel to Ireland to attend our wedding. I found out that I actually liked to blog and then it eventually morphed into the more food centric version that you see today. It was difficult to choose which recipe I wanted to share with you for this anniversary edition, but I ultimately decided that it just had to be Crack Pie. Maybe because I must be on crack to continue trying to publish 2 times a week and for 17 days straight St. Patrick’s Day blogapolooza starting March 1st… But also because Crack Pie is definitely one of those special occasion kind of desserts.

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So I imagine you might be wondering, possibly with some trepidation, what is Crack Pie? Crack is definitely one of those words that just jumps out at you when you come across it huh? I remember one such occasion back when I was in college in Ireland. I hadn’t been there very long and was hanging out with some new-found friends in a local pub. One fellow was trying to convince me to come along with him to a house party nearby. When I hesitated a bit, he said “Ah come on, you should. They’ll be great crack there.” Uhhhh…excuse me?!! Well that is what I heard anyway. I soon learned (but not soon enough to attend said party) that I had misheard him. What he actually said was not “crack” but “craic” Irish for good times or fun, but unfortunately pronounced exactly the same way…. Kind of changes your whole imagery of the party huh? But wait, back to that pie….really? You haven’t heard of Crack Pie?!!

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Come on! That particular confection has a cult following! Crack Pie, invented by Chef Christina Tosi, is one of the top-selling treats at the famous Momofuku Milk Bar in NYC. And when I say top-selling, just listen to this. a whole pie sells for $44. They sell 60 -90 Crack Pies every day or two! Hmmm…sounds like quite a few folks have developed a bit of a habit. Yup….if you like sweet…no wait a second….SWEET desserts, this rich, salty/sweet pie is insanely addictive! And I’m sure at this point you just want me to tell you what it is. Well, you can read the list of ingredients below, but that doesn’t really help and describing the taste is difficult. In consistency, it is like a Chess Pie or like a pecan pie, without the pecans, but the flavour is unique. The crust is made from crumbled oatmeal cookie

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and the filling is gooey, buttery, bliss that tastes somewhat reminiscent of  that Corn Pop cereal you used to eat as a kid. Remember this stuff?!!

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This is due to a secret, well not so secret, ingredient. Strangely adaptations of the recipe often leave it out. But more on this later.

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Now the version of Crack Pie that I have here is from Christina Tosi herself.  I felt it was important to make it as closely as I could to the real deal Crack Pie. I will say this does present a couple of challenges. The first is that her recipe, unlike some other versions which have been adapted, is for two pies. That meant I did indeed make two of those babies. I didn’t try to half the recipe and you shouldn’t either. Part of what makes Crack Pie Crack Pie is that it spends some quality time in the freezer. Chef Tosi claims that it is essential to achieve the correct consistency. So I put both pies in the freezer and after we gobbled one down, it was great knowing that I had another just waiting for the perfect occasion to emerge. Another thing that Tosi’s Crack Pies have in them, that is missing from most of the clone recipes I found is the elusive corn powder.

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Corn powder is made from taking freeze-dried corn and simply grinding it up into a powder in your food processor. It not only acts as a binder but it also gives the pie its unique Corn Pop – like taste. Corn starch and corn flour are not good substitutes if you are trying for authentic. You can buy Corn Powder from the Momofuku Milk Bar or you can find freeze-dried corn at the ever so handy Amazon. I have an Amazon Prime membership and freeze-dried corn was delivered to my door on a Sunday, which I think is pretty dang amazing! So plan ahead if you want to make an authentic Crack Pie. And believe me….you do. Following the recipe, or should I say recipes, because like all Chef Tosi creations there is a recipe, within a recipe, within a recipe to master before you reach your final goal. But Oh…it is so worth it. One bite of that salty/sweet nirvana known as Crack Pie (hah! one bite….I should say “once you’ve come up for air” cause you will not stop at one bite…) and you’ll be convinced. So  go ahead and make this legendary confection. Your sweet tooth (or teeth) as the case may be, will thank you – once they get over that initial sugar ache!

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Crack Pie

  • Servings: Two 10 inch pies each serving 8 - 10
  • Difficulty: easy
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recipe from: Chef Christina Tosi at Momofuku Milk Bar or perhaps you should invest in the Momofuku Milk Bar cookbook for even more yummy treats!

Ingredients:

  • 1 recipe oat cookie
  • 15 g (1 tbs tightly packed) light brown sugar
  • 1 g (1/4 tsp) salt
  • 55 g (4 tbs) butter, melted, or as needed
  • 1 recipe crack pie® filling
  • confectioners’ sugar, for dusting

Directions:

Pre heat the oven to 350°F.

Put the oat cookie, brown sugar, and salt in a food processor and pulse it on and off until the cookie is broken down into a wet sand. (If you don’t have a food processor, you can fake it till you make it and crumble the oat cookie diligently with your hands.)

Transfer the crumbs to a bowl, add the butter, and knead the butter and ground cookie mixture until moist enough to form into a ball. If it is not moist enough to do so, melt an additional 14 to 25 g (1 to 1½ tablespoons) butter and knead it in.

Divide the oat crust evenly between 2 (9-inch) pie tins. Using your fingers and the palms of your hands, press the oat cookie crust firmly into each pie tin, making sure the bottom and sides of the tin are evenly covered. Use the pie shells immediately, or wrap well in plastic and store at room temperature for up to 5 days or in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.

Put both pie shells on a sheet pan. divide the crack pie® filling evenly between the crusts; the filling should fill them three-quarters of the way full. Bake for 15 minutes only. The pies should be golden brown on top but will still be very jiggly. (I baked mine for about 20 minutes here)

Open the oven door and reduce the oven temperature to 325°F. Depending on your oven, it may take 5 minutes or longer for the oven to cool to the new temperature. Keep the pies in the oven during this process. When the oven reaches 325°F, close the door and bake the pies for 5 minutes longer. The pies should still be jiggly in the bull’s-eye center but not around the outer edges. If the filling is still too jiggly, leave the pies in the oven for an additional
5 minutes or so. (I don’t know what was up with my oven, or perhaps it was because I was using 9 inch pie tins rather than 10 inch ones, but I had to bake my pies about 30 more minutes before it was even remotely set. Don’t despair if this happens to you. Have patience. Some how I managed and my Crack Pies were fantastic! And finally, remember that the very center of the pie will still look jiggly when you take it out of the oven. You’ll be afraid that it isn’t done, but it is. Remember to over-cooketh a Crack Pie is a sin!)

Gently take the pan of crack pies® out of the oven and transfer to a rack to cool to room temperature. (You can speed up the cooling process by carefully transferring the pies to the fridge or freezer if you’re in a hurry.) Then freeze your pies for at least 3 hours, or overnight, to condense the filling for a dense final product—freezing is the signature technique and result of a perfectly executed crack pie®.

If not serving the pies right away, wrap well in plastic wrap. In the fridge, they will keep fresh for 5 days; in the freezer, they will keep for 1 month. Transfer the pie(s) from the freezer to the refrigerator to defrost a minimum of 1 hour before you’re ready to get in there.

Serve your crack pie® cold! Decorate your pie(s) with confectioners’ sugar, either passing it through a fine sieve or dispatching pinches with your fingers.

Oat Cookie

Ingredients:

  • 115 g (8 tbs) butter, at room temperature
  • 75 g (1/3 cup tightly packed) light brown sugar
  • 40 g (3 tbs) granulated sugar
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 80 g (1/2 cup) flour
  • 120 g (1 1/2 cups) old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 0.5 g (1/8 tsp) baking powder
  • 0.25 g (pinch) baking soda
  • 2 g (1/2 tsp) kosher salt
  • pam or other nonstick cooking spray (optional)

Directions:

Heat the oven to 350°F.

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 to 3 minutes, until fluffy and pale yellow in color. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula. On low speed, add the egg yolk and increase the speed to medium­ high and beat for 1 to 2 minutes, until the sugar granules fully dissolve and the mixture is a pale white.

On low speed, add the flour, oats, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. mix for a minute, until your dough comes together and any remnants of dry ingredients have been incorporated. The dough will be a slightly fluffy, fatty mixture in comparison to your average cookie dough. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.

Pam-spray a quarter sheet pan and line with parchment, or just line the pan with a silpat. Plop the cookie dough in the center of the pan and, with a spatula, spread it out until it is 1/4 inch thick. The dough won’t end up covering the entire pan; this is ok.

Bake for 15 minutes, or until it resembles an oatmeal cookie-caramelized on top and puffed slightly but set firmly. Cool completely before using. wrapped well in plastic, the oat cookie will keep fresh in the fridge for up to 1 week.

Crack Pie® Filling

You must use a stand mixer with a paddle attachment to make this filling. It only takes a minute, but it makes all the difference in the homogenization and smooth, silky final product. I repeat: a hand whisk and a bowl or a granny hand mixer will not produce the same results. Also, keep the mixer on low speed through the entire mixing process. If you try to mix the filling on higher speed, you will incorporate too much air and your pie will not be dense and gooey-the essence of crack pie®.

This recipe makes the filling for two Crack Pies.

Ingredients:

  • 300 g (1 1/2 cups) granulated sugar
  • 180 g (3/4 cup tightly packed) light brown sugar
  • 20 g (1/4 cup) milk powder
  • 24 g (1/4 cup) corn powder
  • 6 g (1 1/2 tsp) kosher salt
  • 225 g (16 tbs) butter, melted
  • 160 g (3/4 cup) heavy cream
  • 2 g (1/2 tsp) vanilla extract
  • 8 egg yolks**

Directions:

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 to 3 minutes until all the dry ingredients are moist.

Add the heavy cream and vanilla and continue mixing on low for 2 to 3 minutes until any white streaks from the cream have completely disap­peared into the mixture. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula.

Add the egg yolks, paddling them into the mixture just to combine; be careful not to aerate the mixture, but be certain the mixture is glossy and homogenous. mix on low speed until it is.

Use the filling right away, or store it in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 1 week.

**note: It will be the death of your wildly dense pie filling if there is any bit of egg white in the mixture. I believe the easiest, and best, way to separate an egg is to do so in your hands. You may also use the two half-shells to separate the eggs, but the cracked shells can tear the yolk open, and you may not totally separate all the white. If you do this by hand,you can feel when you get every last bit of white away from the yolk. Remember to wash your hands under warm soapy water for 30 seconds or more before and after you handle raw eggs!

Enjoy!

Crack Pie® brought to you by: Runcible Eats (www.leaandjay.com)

 


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