Momofuku Milk Bar’s Crack Pie


If ever there was an aptly named baked treat, this one is it: the (in)famous Crack Pie™ from the Momofuku Milk Bar by Christine Tosi. Her Milk Bar cookbook contains a fabulous story around its invention. The recipe was apparently inspired by Chess Pie (‘jes pie,  in a southern drawl) and was prepared by Tosi one night for the “family meal” – the dishes cooked for restaurant staff to eat ahead of service. She was in a hurry that day and had taken the pie out of the oven too early, throwing it into the fridge to firm as she got on with her real prep for the evening. The pie went down well with the team despite some concern about its high sugar content. I’ll hand over to the amazing Ms Tosi herself for the rest of the story.

“I wrapped the gooey pie up, stuffed it in a lowboy, and jittered away. Minutes later, a cook, equally jittery,came up to me looking for more pie. I gave it to him. Then another cook bought the pie back to me, begging me to take it away from him. Then another came for just one more bite. We shamelessly fought over the last bites of the pie. We soared high n sugar that evening. And then we crashed. It was awful. But that’s the story of how crack pie got its name.”

It certainly is addictive … and with the current discussion about sugar as a toxin (or as my sister-in-law the personal trainer proclaims, “white death”), you can see how appropriate it all is. But I’m a big believer in doing everything in moderation (including moderation itself), so I had to give it a go. Be warned – the recipe is a bit annoyingly time-consuming (there’s a reason buying the real thing from the Momofuku Milk Bar costs $44 per pie) and you need to start the recipe the day before, because the pie needs freezing overnight. Don’t you just hate that when you don’t realise something is a two-day job up front?  Anyway, the recipe follows after the jump.

Milk Bar’s Crack Pie

This recipe actually makes two pies … a good thing, given the speed with which one will no doubt disappear. I’ve eaten two pieces alone now while typing this up! The recipe size also gave me an opportunity to try out one of Ms Tosi’s suggested variation of pecan crack pie.

In terms of size, she suggests using two disposable pie tins (10 inch). I didn’t have any so used two flan tins, and they worked fine.

For the base:

  • 115g butter
  • 75g light brown sugar
  • 40g white sugar
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 1/2 cup plain flour
  • 1-and-a-half cups rolled oats
  • 1/8 tsp baking powder
  • pinch baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt

For the filling:

  • 1-and-a-half cups white sugar
  • 3/4 cup tightly packed brown sugar
  • 1/4 cup milk powder
  • 1/4 cup cornflour
  • 1-and-a-half tsp salt
  • 225g butter, melted
  • 3/4 cup thickened cream
  • 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 8 egg yolks

Additional:

  • 1 tbsp light brown sugar, tightly packed
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 55g butter, melted
  1. Preheat the oven to 190°C to bake the pie base.
  2. Combine the base butter and sugars in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and cream together on med-high for 2 or 3 minutes, or until fluffy and pale in colour.  Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula.
  3. On low speed, add the egg yolk then return the speed to med-high. Beat for 1-2 minutes, until the sugar granules fully dissolve and the mixture is a pale cream.
  4. On low speed, add the flour, oats, baking powder, baking soda and salt.
  5. Mix for a minute, until the dough comes together and any remnants of dry ingredients have been incorporated. The dough will be a slightly fluffy, fatty mixture in comparison to an average cookie dough. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
  6. Spray grease what the Americans refer to as a quarter sheet pan – for us it’s a swiss roll pan. Then line with baking paper.
  7. Scrape the dough into the middle of the pan and with a spatula spread until it’s about 1/4 inch thick.It won’t end up covering the full base of the pan and Ms Tosi assures us that this is ok.
  8. Bake for 15 minutes, or until it looks like a pale-ish Anzac Biscuit. The book describes it as “caramelised on top and puffed slightly but set firmly”.
  9. Cool completely before using – if you want to do this ahead the base will keep in the fridge for a week if it’s wrapped well in glad wrap.
  10. Now for the filling: according to Ms Tosi it’s critical to use a stand mixer with a paddle attachment for this filling if you’re going to get the homogenisation and smooth, silky final product. She also warns you to keep the mixer on low speed throughout the entire mixing process, because higher speed mixing will incorporate too much air and prevent the pie from being dense and gooey.
  11. Combine the dry filling ingredients: sugar, brown sugar, milk powder, cornflour and salt in the bowl of the stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment.
  12. Add the 225g melted butter and paddle mix for 2-3 minutes until all the dry ingredients are moist.
  13. Add the thickened 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.
  14. 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.
  15. Use the filling right away, or stir it in an airtight container in the fridge for up to one week.
  16. Now it’s time to bring it all together: preheat the oven to 190°C.
  17. Put the oat cookie base, brown sugar and salt in a food processor and pulse it on and off until the cookie base is broken down into wet sand.
  18. Transfer the crumbs to a bowl, add the additional butter, and knead the butter and ground base mixture until it’s moist enough to form into a ball. If it’s not quite moist enough, melt an additional 25g butter and knead it in (I needed this additional butter).
  19. Divide the base mix evenly between 2 pie tins. Using your fingers and the palms of your hands, press the base firmly into each 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.
  20. Put both the pie shells on a sheet pan (and I would add it’s worth lining the pan with baking paper).
  21. Now’s also the time to add in the pecans, or actually any type of nuts. Christina Tosi also suggests mixed berry crack pie – fill the shells with any mixture of berries you have in stock. Far be it from me to question the pastry goddess, but i don’t know about the berries. nuts, yes, but berries? Too wet, not a good combination with the gooey filling … I just don’t know.
  22. Divide the crack pie filling evenly between the crusts; fill them 3/4 full (or you’ll end up with the overspill I got in the oven, at left!)
  23. Bake for about 15-20 minutes – you want the pies to look golden brown on the top but still very jiggly.
  24. Open the oven door and reduce the temperature to about 160°C.  Leave the pies in the oven while it cools down – this will take around 5 minutes depending on your oven. 
  25. Once the temperature is reduced, closer her up again and bake for another 5 minutes or longer. (Definitely longer in my case. My Miele oven is super accurate temperature wise  are great and I have a digital readout so can tell the temp to the exact degree, but it still took longer … and I think I could probably left it for another five minutes or so).
  26. Gently take the pan of crack pies out of the oven and transfer to a rack to cool to room temperature. Then freeze your pies for a minimum of three hours – best overnight, I think. The freezing is necessary to condense the filling for a dense final product – the recipe states “freezing is the signature technique and result of a perfectly executed crack pie”.)
  27. Transfer the pies from the freezer to the refrigerator to defrost before serving.
  28. Serve your crack pie cold. You can decorate with sieved icing sugar, although I have to admit I forgot about this step when I went in for the kill the following day. I also defrosted the pie on the bench instead of in the fridge because I couldn’t wait, which was a mistake … what was it I was saying about addiction? That’s why there’s goo around the pie; future slices straight out of the fridge were much more neat and well behaved.
  29. In the fridge, crack pies will stay fresh for 5 days and they’ll keep in the freezer for a month.
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~ by swalloworspit on June 25, 2012.

One Response to “Momofuku Milk Bar’s Crack Pie”

  1. absolutely love this pie! I made it too and had to eat it a bit at a time and distribute to friends cause it was so sinful! But one super delicious dessert for sure! (: Love how yours is still gooey in the middle!

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