When I saw an article about Crack Pie, I was curious. When I heard that is sold in a New York café for $44 each and that people all over the country bought them and paid for overnight shipping, I was intrigued. But, when I read that the recipe is a version of Chess Pie, I thought to myself, “Just another Yankee messing with what the South already perfected.” My grandmother made a plain Chess Pie and a Lemon Chess Pie that melted in your mouth. She always apologized when she made it and considered it a dessert of last resort because it is basically just a pie crust with eggs, butter, sugar, flavoring and a tad of cornmeal to hold it together. But, her Chess Pie was nothing to be ashamed of. So, why mess with success? The article said that the pastry chef at this café decided to change up the crust to make it a mix of salty and sweet similar to kettle corn. Well, I do love kettle corn so despite my misgivings, decide to try the recipe. Even though it makes two pies, I doubled it because the article warned, like the substance the pie is named for, you can’t stop with one slice, and I wanted to have some pies to give away for Easter. The crust is made from an oatmeal cookie that is pretty tasty all on its own. Being a cookieholic, I had to stop myself from picking at the cookie or I wouldn’t have enough for crusts. The recipe takes a while not only because you have to make the cookie and then, wait for it to cool to construct the crust but because each pie has to be baked separately in the oven. It was tempting to shove all four into the oven at once, but I was patient, desiring to follow the directions to the letter so that when it didn’t turn out as good as my grandma’s pie, there would be no question that it was my fault and not the recipes. The author of the article recommended eating the pie warm while the chef said it was intended to be eaten cold. I tried it warm and wasn’t impressed. My original suspicions were confirmed. Northerners know nothing about southern cooking. Later in the day, friends came over and I served the pie cold. What a difference in taste once the flavors blended! I began to rethink my earlier criticism. In fact, the longer the pie sat in the fridge, the better it got. More caramel tasting with a stronger contrast between sweet and salty. Just like kettle corn. I’m hooked and kicking myself that I gave three of the four pies away! I must make more! But, at 432 calories a slice, I better not make it too often! How much better would it be if I got addicted to God’s Word? It’s just a sweet and satisfying and a lot better for my health!
PS After posting this, I realized that there were multiple lessons that could be learned from this tale. Like reconciliation, admitting when you are wrong, not judging and more. But, perhaps most importantly, it is in timing. Because you must cook this pie for exactly the number of minutes it says at the temperatures it says and no more. The pie will not look done when you take it out of the oven and will jiggle in middle, but it will be done so don’t leave it in any longer. Like your middle when you have eaten this pie, a little jiggle is a good thing when it comes to pie.
Crack Pie Recipe (from LA TIMES)
Servings: Makes 2 pies (6 to 8 servings each)
Note: Adapted from Momofuku. This pie calls for 2 (10-inch) pie tins. You can substitute 9-inch pie tins, but note that the pies will require additional baking time, about 5 minutes, due to the increased thickness of the filling.
Cookie for crust
2/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon (3 ounces) flour
Scant 1/8 teaspoon baking powder
Scant 1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) softened butter
1/3 cup (2 1/2 ounces) light brown sugar
3 tablespoons (1 1/4 ounces) sugar
Scant 1 cup (3 1/2 ounces) rolled oats
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.
Crumbled cookie for crust
1/4 cup (1/2 stick) butter
1 1/2 tablespoons (3/4 ounce) brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
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). 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. Set the prepared crusts aside while you prepare the filling.
1 1/2 cups (10 1/2 ounces) sugar
3/4 cup plus a scant 3 tablespoons (7 ounces) light brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup plus 1 teaspoon (3/4 ounce) milk powder
1 cup (2 sticks) butter, melted
3/4 cup plus a scant 2 tablespoons heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
8 egg yolks
2 prepared crusts
Powdered sugar, garnish
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. Dust with powdered sugar before serving.
Each of 16 servings: 432 calories; 4 grams protein; 45 grams carbohydrates; 1 gram fiber; 27 grams fat; 16 grams saturated fat; 187 mg. cholesterol; 36 grams sugar; 125 mg. sodium.