I have heard countless stories about the famed Crack Pie from Momofuku Milk Bar in New York City. I’ve never been there myself, but based on the lore, I could only imagine how amazing it must be. Awhile back, I gifted myself with the Momofuku Milk Bar cookbook, which is where the recipe for the compost cookies I made last year originated. I hadn’t paged through that cookbook in quite some time, and after picking it up a couple of weeks ago, I remembered that the Crack Pie recipe was included at the very end of the book, as a “bonus track”, for anyone who grew up listening to cassette tapes or CDs. I was long overdue on making it, and finally dove right in. At first glance, the recipe is long with multiple steps, but I’m glad I finally got right to it. Spoiler: it’s not nearly as difficult as it seems at first glance!
This recipe is comprised of three parts: making an oat cookie “slab”, if you will… using said cookie as the base for the pie crust… then the pie filling itself. I looooved the oat cookie crust! It definitely added a great complementary flavor to the filling. As for the pie itself, I think the best way that I could describe it is a pecan pie without the pecans… or the corn syrup. I’ve also seen it compared to chess pie, although I’ve never had chess pie, so I can’t vouch for that. The filling sets up a little bit soft and gooey and sweet and, well, perfect. Come to think of it, it’s a bit like the “gooey” part of a gooey butter cake. It’s sort of a custard, but sort of not. If you like pecan pie, chess pie or gooey butter cake, I think you’ll love this!
Now, for some important notes on the recipe:
I cut this recipe in half and only made one pie. In retrospect, it would take zero additional effort to make two and then you’d have one in the freezer for surprise company!
The recipe calls for 10-inch pie plates and the author uses disposable foil tins. I attempted to use my 10-inch ceramic pie plate, but the crust wouldn’t adhere to it, as it was sort of slippery. I ended up using a 9-inch glass plate, which held the crust better. HOWEVER, if you use a 9-inch pie plate, it will take longer to set up in the oven than indicated in the recipe below. Go by the visual clues noted in the recipe. Next time, I would probably just go to the store and get the throwaway foil pans.
The author very adamantly states that the filling MUST be made with a stand mixer and a paddle attachment. She said the same texture can’t be achieved through mixing by hand or using a hand mixer.
One ingredient that left me scratching my head was “corn powder”. It’s described in the book as freeze-dried corn (not just frozen corn) that has been ground in a food processor into a powder. I honestly wasn’t about to try to track down freeze-dried corn, so I substituted cornstarch. I have no idea how much that may have affected the final product, but if you have freeze-dried corn readily available to you, go for it! Just use ¼ cup of the ground powder.
When all was said and done, this was easier than I anticipated and the pie was met with rave reviews. I can’t compare it to the original since I’ve never had it, but based on what I’ve read, I’d say it came out pretty darn close. Grab a fork and dig in!
Make the Oat Cookie: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (177 degrees C). Line a cookie sheet with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.
Combine the butter and sugars in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and cream together on medium-high speed for 2 to 3 minutes, until fluffy and pale yellow. Scrape the sides of the bowl and, on low speed, at the egg yolk and increase the speed to medium-high and beat for 1 to 2 minutes, until the mixture is pale white.
Again, scrape down the sides of the bowl and, on low speed, add the flour, oats, salt, baking powder and baking soda. Mix until the dough comes together and there are no remnants of dry ingredients, about 1 minute.
Turn the dough out onto the prepared baking sheet and, using an offset spatula, spread to a ¼-inch thickness (it won't take up the entire sheet). Bake for 15 minutes, or until the middle of the cookie is puffed, but the edges are firmly set. Cool completely before using.
Make the Crust: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (177 degrees C). In a large bowl, break up the oat cookie into small crumbs resembling wet sand. Add the brown sugar and salt and stir to combine. Add the butter and use a rubber spatula to stir and press the mixture against the sides of the bowl until a cohesive mass forms. If the crust is not moist enough to form a cohesive mass, melt an additional 1 to 1½ tablespoons of butter and mix in as before.
Divide the oat cookie crust between two pie plates and press firmly into the pie plates, making sure that the bottom and sides are evenly covered. (If not using immediately, the pie shells can be wrapped in plastic wrap and refrigerated for up to 2 weeks.)
Make the Pie Filling: Combine the sugar, brown sugar, milk powder, cornstarch and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment and mix on low speed until evenly blended. Add the melted butter and mix for 2 to 3 minutes, until all of the dry ingredients are moist. Scrape down the sides of the bowl and add the heavy cream and vanilla, then continue to mix on low speed for 2 to 3 minutes, until no white streaks remain. Add the egg yolks and mix on low speed just long enough to combine, ensuring that the mixture is glossy and homogenous, but do not over mix! (If not using immediately, the filling can be stored in an airtight container and refrigerated for up to 1 week.)
Bake the Pie: Place the prepared pie plates on a sheet pan. Divide the filling evenly between the pie crusts; the filling should only fill the plates about ¾ of the way full. Bake for 15 minutes, until the pies are golden brown on top but still very jiggly.
Open the oven door and reduce the oven temperature to 325 degrees F (163 degrees F). Leave the pies in the oven and the oven door open until the temperature reaches 325 degrees F. Once it does, close the oven door and bake for 5 to 10 minutes longer, until the pies are jiggly in the very center, but set around the outer edges.
Remove the pies from the oven and place on a wire rack to cool to room temperature. Freeze the pies for at least 3 hours or overnight (this step condenses the filling and is a required step). Transfer the pies from the freezer to the refrigerator for at least 1 hour before serving. (If not using immediately, the pies can be wrapped in plastic wrap and kept in the refrigerator for up to 5 days or in the freezer for up to 1 month.)
Just prior to serving, dust the pie with powdered sugar. Serve with a dollop of whipped cream.