In past Tribune Cooks articles, I have revealed that I enjoy torturing myself with Bon Appetit magazine. I receive the tempting food periodical (which really should be sold in black shrinkwrap) monthly, thanks to my diligent collection of Coca-Cola bottle caps, which I use to enter codes for points toward free goodies.
Due to the number of Diet Coke drinkers in my office, I always have enough points to ensure Bon Appetit will arrive in my mailbox, and that it will make me want to cook.
Always on the lookout for recipe ideas, I noticed that Pi Day was approaching: March 14, or 3.14. Playful nerds have dubbed this day Pi Day in honor of the number whose purpose and meaning has long since been left behind in pre-calculus. How clever! The day is celebrated by baking pies and banging away at calculators.
Crack Pie is done cooking when the filling is brown in spots and set around edges but center still moves slightly when the pie pan is gently shaken.
Pies have enjoyed a recent revival thanks to the yearly need for a new bakery food trend (sorry cupcakes, you're so 2007), so pie recipes were in abundance.
The pie that caught my eye in Bon Appetit was aptly named "Crack Pie," a creation from a Manhattan bakery that has hooked everyone from Martha Stewart to Anderson Cooper. Countless blog posts and articles have been written about this pie, which would cost the newcomer a not-so-sweet $44, but once addicted, the price may seem worth the fix.
For some reason, the bakery actually revealed the recipe to the public, which defeats the purpose of having a pie so addictive that one could name their price for a slice.
Oat Cookie Crust
Nonstick vegetable oil spray
9 tablespoons (1 stick plus 1 tablespoon) unsalted butter, room temperature, divided
5 1/2 tablespoons (packed) golden brown sugar, divided
2 tablespoons sugar
1 large egg
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons old-fashioned oats
1/2 cup all purpose flour
1/8 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon (generous) salt
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
1 tablespoon nonfat dry milk powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted, cooled slightly
6 1/2 tablespoons heavy whipping cream
4 large egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Powdered sugar (for dusting)
Oat Cookie Crust
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 13-by-9-by-2-inch metal baking pan with parchment paper; coat with nonstick spray. Combine 6 tablespoons butter, 4 tablespoons brown sugar and 2 tablespoons sugar in medium bowl. Using electric mixer, beat mixture until light and fluffy, occasionally scraping down sides of bowl, about 2 minutes. Add egg; beat until pale and fluffy. Add oats, flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt, and beat until well blended, about 1 minute. Turn oat mixture out onto prepared baking pan; press out evenly to edges of pan. Bake until light golden on top, 17 to 18 minutes. Transfer baking pan to rack and cool cookie completely.
Using hands, crumble oat cookie into large bowl; add three tablespoons butter and 1 1/2 tablespoons brown sugar. Rub in with fingertips until mixture is moist enough to stick together. Transfer cookie crust mixture to 9-inch-diameter glass pie dish. Using fingers, press mixture evenly onto bottom and up sides of pie dish. Place pie dish with crust on rimmed baking sheet.
Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 350 degrees. Whisk both sugars, milk powder and salt in medium bowl to blend. Add melted butter and whisk until blended. Add cream, then egg yolks and vanilla and whisk until well blended. Pour filling into crust. Bake pie 30 minutes (filling may begin to bubble). Reduce oven temperature to 325 degrees. Continue to bake pie until filling is brown in spots and set around edges but center still moves slightly when pie dish is gently shaken, about 20 minutes longer. Cool pie two hours in pie dish on rack. Chill uncovered overnight. Can be made two days ahead. Cover; keep chilled.
Sift powdered sugar lightly over top of pie. Cut pie into wedges and serve cold.
The recipe didn't seem too complicated, so I gave it a whirl in honor of Pi Day. You basically bake a giant oatmeal cookie, crumble it up with some butter and brown sugar, then press it into a crust. The crust is then filled with all manner of baking basics: cream, butter, sugar, eggs, vanilla, etc. I had everything for the recipe already in my kitchen.
Things hardly ever live up to their hype, but this pie was no tease. I could see paying whatever I had for one more bite. But in the interest of my teeth, I chose to share the pie with friends. One friend tasted a small chunk, then came back. And back. And back.
Another friend took two pieces, and I later remembered he was diabetic (he's fine). Through Facebook, I learned that after I left, a group shared the last piece, leaving one unlucky pie-taster licking the napkin for one last crumb. One friend told me that he ate the napkin, but I'd like to believe he was joking.
So, try the Crack Pie if you dare. Make sure a cold glass of milk is at hand. Now that I've hooked all my friends, I'll be running a pie-lab out of my kitchen.