12.20.2011

Miniature Momofuku Crack Pies

Miniature Momofuku Crack Pies by Dishy Goodness


Last year, I had the good fortune to visit New York on a business trip. Having heard about the Momofuku empire well before then, I knew that I HAD to stop at Momofuku Milk Bar (and Ssäm Bar beforehand) to sample the famous Crack Pie. The pie features a salty-sweet oatmeal cookie crust with a chewy, rich and buttery filling. It was a rapturous experience, and I savored each bite of the buttery, caramelly dessert to the very last morsel.

That trip was over 18 months ago, and I finally got around to making this revelation in my own kitchen. The impetus was my office holiday party, which included a dessert bake-off with a prize! I thought that Crack Pie would be a strong contender, so I decided to enter the contest with a dessert I'd never before attempted. I generally like to test out recipes before serving them to the public, but I had a sneaking suspicion that this was one recipe that would not fail me.

Oatmeal cookie crust being pressed into a Wilton non-stick mini-muffin pan.

I used the recipe that Christina Tosi shared with the Los Angeles Times. Rather than make two pies, I thought it would be more convenient and festive to make them into bite-sized miniatures.

I used a Wilton non-stick mini-muffin pan and pressed the oatmeal cookie crust into each well. This is the most time-consuming part of the recipe for making the tiny pies. I recommend making sure that you do not press the crust all the way up to the top of the well to make pies easier to remove afterwards. The pie will expand as it bakes, pushing the crust up and out.

The filling for half of 1 Crack Pie can fill 24 mini-pies
To make a pan of 24 mini-pies in this type of pan, you only need to make enough filling for 1/2 a pie (i.e., 1/4 the amount of the LA Times recipe). However, you do need to make the full crust recipe (which makes enough for two pies). The reason is because you are using much more crust for these individual desserts than you would for one entire pie. One tip: if you like salty-sweet as much as I do, be sure to taste the cookie crumb mixture to adjust for the right level of saltiness before pressing into the pan.

Crack Pies collapse as they cool down.
Understandably, the baking time needs to be reduced for these little cuties. If everything goes well, the pies will bubble up and look like they are breathing organisms. When you take the pies out of the oven, the filling will start to collapse almost immediately. The photo to the left (above) shows them on their way down, and the photo to the right shows what they look like after they've cooled. I was a little concerned initially because, frankly, I didn't think they looked that appealing. But I worried for nothing; they were amazing!

Gently rotate the pie in the pan before removing. To add a finishing touch, dust with confectioner's sugar.

After they cooled down, I used a thin offset spatula to carefully lift the edge of each pie. I made sure first that the pies were able to "rotate" inside the well before trying to lift them from the edges. This takes a little practice and patience, but what doesn't make it out in one piece goes to the chef! :)

A light dusting of confectioner's sugar added a wintry holiday feel, and into the fridge they went for two nights. They held up very well until the holiday party, and the sugar didn't melt away either! These are great make-ahead individual dessert treats for any and all occasions.

One final note: I highly recommend measuring the ingredients by weight as a professional baker would do. (I love my OXO Good Grips 11 lb. Food Scale!) If you don't have a scale, the recipe below offers standard measurements.

And, in case you were wondering, my miniature Crack Pies won the bake-off!

MINIATURE MOMOFUKU CRACK PIES
Servings: Makes 24 mini-pies
Note: Adapted from Momofuku Crack Pie recipe, LA Times.

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 or 4 ounces) softened butter
1/3 cup (2 1/2 ounces) light brown sugar
3 tablespoons (1 1/4 ounces) sugar
1 egg
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.

Crust
Crumbled cookie for crust
1/4 cup (1/2 stick or 2 ounces) 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). Adjust salt, if necessary. Divide the crust among the 24 wells. 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.

Filling
3/8 cup (2.625 ounces) sugar
3/16 cup plus a scant 3/4 tablespoon (1.75 ounces) light brown sugar
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/12 cup plus 1/4 teaspoon (3/16 ounce) milk powder
1/4 cup (1/2 stick or 2 ounces) butter, melted
3/16 cup plus a scant 1/2 tablespoon (1.5625 ounces) heavy cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract (I used Nielsen-Massey Vanilla Bean Paste)
2 egg yolks
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. Fill the mini-pie shells to 2/3rds full.

5. Bake the pies for 9-10 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 4-5 minutes. Keep an eye on them to make sure they do not burn. Remove the pies and cool on a rack.

6. After the pies have cooled on the rack, gently rotate each one inside its well to make sure they are not stuck to the pan. Rotate all of them before trying to remove the pies with a thin metal spatula or similar tool. Another option: you could also carefully stick a fork into the top of the pie, angling the fork towards the outer edge of the pie to remove them from the pan.

7. Refrigerate the cooled pies until well chilled. If you need to stack the pies for storage, do so after they've completely chilled and use parchment paper to separate them. The pies are meant to be served cold, and the filling will be gooey. Dust with powdered sugar before serving.

HAPPY HOLIDAYS FROM DISHY GOODNESS!
Special thanks to Mr. DG for taking photos while my hands were otherwise occupied.

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