Recovering From a Bad Date + Crack Pie Bars

Crack Pie Bars
If you haven’t heard of it before, Crack Pie is a dessert made by Christina Tosi of Momofuku Milk Bar, and as its name suggests, it’s pretty addictive. Similar to a chess pie, there aren’t any special ingredients in it, but there’s a reason it’s got a cult following- it is insanely tasty and transcends the buttery goodness of most baked goods. [Small tangent/rant: If there was ever an acceptable instance in which to use the god-awful term “nom” that has become all but expected in food blogs, this would be it. That said, it’s still not ok to use, people.] I can’t get through a slice in less than two separate sittings (which is for the best, since it’s $5 a pop), especially now that I know exactly how indulgent it is. If you read the ingredient list, you’ll know what I mean, but don’t let it deter you- a little slice isn’t that bad.
If anything, it’s great for turning a bad day/night around, or as this title suggests, reeling from a bad date. Will it erase the awkward conversation and time wasted trying to look decent for that person [in this instance, decent meant getting out of bed, putting on makeup, and worse, pants]? Probably not. But if you buy a slice (or have one saved in your refrigerator for emergencies), go home, take off those awful pants and put on some Netflix, I can pretty much guarantee you will feel at least a little better. Unless you have diabetes- if you do, this tactic may not be for you.. DSC_0404I read about crack pie a couple of months after Milk Bar started making it in New York magazine, and went there shortly after for the first time, beginning what would become a (now) five year strong obsession with Tosi and everything she makes. When her cookbook finally came out, I bought it immediately and desperately want to bake my way through it they way one blogger did with David Chang’s book. Her recipes are very specific, even slightly demanding, but the product is well-worth the extra effort.DSC_0412DSC_0416DSC_0421DSC_0422Crack Pie BarsI’ve actually been making crack pie for four years now, originally working of a speculated recipe, then a post from Bon Appetit’s website, and finally the real deal. It requires you to make a giant oat cookie to make a crust out of, cool it, break that down, press the crust into pans, make the fillings, bake it, then cool it and refrigerate/freeze it extensively. Listed here are a few thoughts/ideas/tricks I’ve picked up over the years.


  • Before I had a food processor to grind down the cookie for the crumb crust, I would break it down by hand and then very carefully blend in the butter with my hand-held electric mixer, covering the bowl with my body to stop the pieces from flying out. An easier, less-messy approach would be to break the cookie down into big chunks, put it in a ziplock bag and roll it over with a rolling pin/beer bottle
  • I streamline the process a bit by making the cookie 1-2 days in advance, grinding it down to a crumb and then storing it in an air-tight container until I need it.
  • Tosi also recommends freezing it overnight, so making the pie(s) the night before actually works in your favor. Just make sure to give it 1 hour or so to soften up a little, as it can be difficult to cut when completely frozen
  • As the photos show, I made the pie into bars by using one full recipe, which normally yields two 10″ pies, in a 9×13″ pan. You can also use two 8×8″ square pans.You can halve it to make one, and if you don’t have a 10″ pie pan, I’ve made due with a 9″ pie or tart (my preference) pan.
  • If you bake these in a square or rectangular pan, USE PARCHMENT PAPER. Seriously, nothing is a bigger bitch than getting these out of a pan without a liner, and cooking spray/butter will not cut it. If you don’t have parchment paper, aluminum foil is better than nothing, though I’ve found it rips when trying to remove the bars from the pan(s).
  • Tosi insists the filling must be made with a stand mixer, but until last year I never had one and always managed with my hand-held one.


Crack Pie

adapted slightly from Christina Tosi’s Milk Bar

Bake the Oat Cookie:

8 tablespoons (1/2 cup, 4 oz or 1 stick) unsalted butter, at room temperature
1/3 cup packed light brown sugar
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 egg yolk
1/2 cup all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats
1/8 teaspoon baking powder
pinch of baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  2. Cream the butter and sugar in a stand mixture with a paddle attachment for 2-3 minutes, 4-5 minutes if using a handheld one, until fluffy and pale yellow in color.
  3. On low speed, add the egg yolk and increase the speed to medium-high and beat for 1-2 minutes, until the sugars are fully dissolved and the mixture is pale white.
  4. On low speed, add the flour, oats, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Mix for a minute, until the dough comes together and all the dry ingredients have been incorporated.
  5. Spray a quarter sheet pan with non-stick cooking spray and line with parchment paper or a Silpat. Spread the cookie dough on the the pan until it is 1/4″ thick- the dough won’t cover the whole pan, which is fine.
  6. Bake for 15 minutes, or until golden on top and puffed slightly but set firmly. Cool completely before using. If not using it right away, wrap it well in plastic wrap and store in the fridge for up to 1 week.

Make the Crust:

1 recipe Oat Cookie
1 tablespoon tightly packed light brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

  1. 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 crumble it by hand.
  2. Transfer the crumbs to a bowl, add the butter, and knead the butter and ground cookie mixture until moist enough to form a ball. If it’s not coming together, add an additional 1-2 tablespoons melted butter [I always do].
  3. Divide the oat crust evenly between the two tins. Using your fingers and palms, and/or a metal measuring cup (my choice), press the oat cookie crust firmly into the bottoms and sides of each tin, making sure they are evenly covered.
  4. Use the pie shells immediately, or wrap well in plastic and store at room temperature for 5 days or up to 2 weeks in the fridge.

Make the Pie Filling:

1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
3/4 cup tightly packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup milk powder
1/4 cup corn powder [I couldn’t find any near me so I just skipped it]
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
16 tablespoons (2 sticks) unsalted butter, melted
3/4 cup heavy cream
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
8 egg yolks

  1. Combine the sugars, 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.
  2. Add the melted butter and mix on low for 2-3 minutes until all the dry ingredients are moist.
  3. Add the heavy cream and vanilla and continue to mix on low for 2-3 minutes, until any white streaks from the cream have completely disappeared. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula.
  4. Add the egg yolks, beating them into the mixture just to combine; be careful not to beat any air into it, but mix until the filling is glossy and homogenous.
  5. Use filling immediately, or store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 1 week.

Assemble the Pies:

  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F.
  2. Put both pie shells on a sheet pan. Divide the filling evenly between the crusts; the filling should fill the tins three-quarters of the way full.
  3. Bake for 15 minutes only- the pies should be golden brown on top but will still be very jiggly. If using 9″ tins, bake for 18-20 minutes; for 2 8×8′ pans, 20-25 minutes, and for one 9×13″ pan, 30 minutes
  4. 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 down. Keep the pies in the oven during this process.
  5. When the oven reaches 325°F, close the door and bake the pies for 5 minutes longer (add a couple minutes for a 9″ tin, double the time for the 8×8′ or 9×13″ options). The pies should still be jiggly in the center but not around the outer edges. If it’s still too jiggly, bake for another 5 minutes or so.
  6. Gently remove the pies from the oven and transfer to a rack to cool to room temperature. Then freeze the pies for at least 3 hours, or overnight, to condense the filling.
  7. If not using right away, wrap well in plastic and store in the freezer for up to 1 month.
  8. Serve it cold, dusted generously with confectioners’ sugar.

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