Brown Butter Crack Pie

Brown Butter “Crack Pie”
This pie is a brown butter-infused version of Momofoku’s Milk Bar Pie, once known as Crack Pie. Milk Bar Pie is decadent, sweet, salty and gooey with a chewy oatmeal crust. And it’s crazy delicious.

And then there’s the brown butter. Nutty, toasty, caramel-y brown butter. Replacing the butter in the recipe with brown butter seemed like a no-brainer way to “gild the lily”. There is brown butter in the oatmeal cookie crust and in the crazy-delicious filling.

Brown Butter Crack Pies

This pie is really four recipes in one. Make it all in one go or spread it over the next few days.

For some helpful tips before you begin, click here.

Makes 2 9-inch pies.

This recipe is in four parts:

1. Make the OATMEAL COOKIE.
2. Make the OATMEAL COOKIE CRUST.
3. Make the CRACK PIE FILLING.
4. Make the CRACK PIE.

Make the Oatmeal Cookie:

INGREDIENTS:

  • 113 g (1/2 cup or 1 stick)) butter
  • 15 g (2 tablespoons) milk powder
  • 75 g (1/3 cup, tightly packed) light brown sugar
  • 40 g (3 tablespoons) granulated sugar
  • 30 ml (2 tablespoons) milk
  • 1 egg yolk
  • 60 g (1/2 cup) all-purpose flour
  • 135 g (1 1/2 cups) old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 1/2 g (1/8 teaspoon) baking powder
  • 1/4 g (pinch) baking soda
  • 3 g (1/2 teaspoon) salt

INSTRUCTIONS:

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F(176°C). Prepare a baking sheet.

– Heat the oven to 350°F(176°C).
– Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Lightly coat with cooking spray, too.

2. Brown the butter (with the milk powder).

– Have a heat-proof bowl nearby (for the hot brown butter).
– Melt the butter in a heavy-bottomed, preferably light-colored saucepan over medium-high heat. Swirl the pan around to heat the butter evenly.

  • The butter will sputter, bubble and foam.
  • Once the sputtering  starts to subside, the butter will begin to turn clear and the milk  solids will sink to the bottom of the saucepan.

– Stir in the milk powder.

  • The butter will become foamy again after adding the milk powder.

– Turn the heat down to medium.
– Continue to swirl the butter around and stir with a wooden spoon or silicone spatula, scraping up any browning bits sticking to the bottom of the saucepan.
– Once the milk solids have become brown, (about the color of  butterscotch) and the butter smells toasty and nutty, immediately remove from heat and pour into the heat-proof bowl to cool.

3. Cream the brown butter and the sugars. Add the milk and egg yolk.

– In a stand mixer with the paddle attachment, cream the brown butter and the sugars on medium high for 2 to 3 minutes until fluffy and paler in color. Scrape down the sides of the bowl occasionally with a rubber spatula.
– On low speed, add in the milk and egg yolk. Increase the speed to medium-high and beat for 2 to 4 minutes until the mixture is fluffy and lighter in color.

4. Combine the dry ingredients. Mix with the brown butter mixture.

– Briefly stir the flour, oats, baking powder, baking soda, and salt into the creamed butter mixture to combine.
– Mix on low speed just until the dough comes together and any remnants of dry ingredients have been incorporated. Scrape down the sides of the mixing bowl with a rubber spatula as needed.

5. Spread the cookie dough on the prepared pan and bake for 15 minutes.

– Spread the cookie dough evenly on the prepared baking sheet with a spatula into a 9×13-inch rectangle.
– Bake the cookie at 350°F(176°C) for 15 minutes or until it resembles an oatmeal cookie – caramelized on top and puffed slightly but set firmly.
– Cool completely before using for the pie crust.

  • If not making the pie crust until the next day or later, store the cooled cookie in a well-sealed container or Ziploc bag at room temperature for up to 3 days or in the refrigerator for up to a week. (The cookie can be broken up in pieces.)

Make the Oatmeal Cookie Pie Crust:

INGREDIENTS:

  • 1 recipe Oatmeal Cookie
  • 20 g (1 1/2 tablespoons) brown sugar
  • 1.5 g (1/4 teaspoon) salt
  • 57 g (1/4 cup) butter, melted

INSTRUCTIONS:

1. Pulverize the oatmeal cookie, brown sugar and salt into crumbs. Mix in the melted butter.

– Place the oatmeal cookie, brown sugar and salt into a food processor and pulse until everything is the texture of wet sand.

  • If you do not have a food processor, you can place the ingredients in a Ziploc freezer bag and crush everything into crumbs with a  mallet or the bottom of a heavy saucepan.

– Transfer the cookie crumbs to a bowl and pour in the melted butter.
– With a rubber spatula or your hands, knead the butter and cookie crumb mixture until the contents of the bowl are moist enough to knead into a ball. If it is not moist enough to do so, add an additional 1 to 2 tablespoons melted butter.

2. Divide and press the cookie crumb mixture into two pie plates.

– Divide the cookie crumb mixture evenly between two pie plates.
– Press firmly into the pie plates, making sure the bottom and the sides are evenly covered.

  • If not making the pies right away, wrap the pie shells well in plastic wrap and store at room temperature for up to 5 days or in the refrigerator for up to 2 weeks.

Make the Crack Pie Filling:

INGREDIENTS:

  • 226 g (1 cup or 2 sticks) butter
  • 31 g (1/4 cup) milk powder
  • 300 g (1 1/2) cups sugar
  • 150 g (3/4 cup) brown sugar
  • 24 g (1/4 cup) corn powder (ground freeze-dried corn)
  • 9 g (1 1/2 teaspoons) salt
  • 240 ml (1 cup) heavy cream
  • 2.5 ml (1/2 teaspoon) vanilla extract
  • 8 egg yolks

INSTRUCTIONS:

1. Brown the butter (with the milk powder).

– Have a heat-proof bowl nearby (for the hot brown butter).
– Melt the butter in a heavy-bottomed, preferably light-colored saucepan over medium-high heat. Swirl the pan around to heat the butter evenly.

  • The butter will sputter, bubble and foam.
  • Once the sputtering  starts to subside, the butter will begin to turn clear and the milk  solids will sink to the bottom of the saucepan.

– Stir in the milk powder.

  • The butter will become foamy again after adding the milk powder.

– Turn the heat down to medium.
– Continue to swirl the butter around and stir with a wooden spoon or silicone spatula, scraping up any browning bits sticking to the bottom of the saucepan.
– Once the milk solids have become brown, (about the color of  butterscotch) and the butter smells toasty and nutty, immediately remove from heat and pour into the heat-proof bowl. Set aside to cool.

2. Combine the dry ingredients. Stir in the remaining ingredients one at a time until the mixture is glossy and homogeneous.

– In a stand mixer with the paddle attachment on low speed or with a wooden spoon, mix together the sugars, corn powder and salt until everything is evenly distributed.

  • It is important to use a mixer with a paddle attachment on the lowest speed or a wooden spoon, not a whisk or granny mixer, for the entire process. If you try to mix the crack pie filling on any speed higher than a low speed, you will incorporate too much air and your pie will not be dense and gooey- the essence of the crack pie.

– Add the brown butter to the mixer and paddle for 2 to 3 minutes or until all the dry ingredients are moist.
– Add the heavy cream and vanilla and mix until the white from the cream has completely disappeared into the mixture. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula occasionally.
– Add the egg yolks to the mixer, paddling them into the mixture just to combine. Be careful not to aerate the mixture, but be certain the mixture is glossy and homogeneous. Mix on low speed until it is.

  • If not baking the pies right away, the Crack Pie filling can be stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.

Make the Crack Pie:

INGREDIENTS:

INSTRUCTIONS:

1. Preheat the oven to 350°F(176°C).

– Heat the oven to 350°F(176°C).
– Place the oven rack in the lower-middle position.

2. Fill the pie shells with the filling.

– Place both pie shells on a 1/2 sheet pan.
– Divide the crack pie filling evenly over both pie shells. The filling should fill the pie shells three-quarters full.

3. Bake the pies at 350 °F(176°C for 15 to 20 minutes. Then at 325°F(163°C) for 5 minutes.

– Bake at 350°F(176°C) for 15 to 20 minutes. The pies should be golden brown on top, but will still be very jiggly. (This may take longer if your pie shells and filling are still cold from refrigeration.)
– Open the oven door partially and reduce the baking temperature to 325°F(163°C). Depending on your oven this may take 5 minutes or longer to cool to the new temperature. Keep the pies in the oven during this process.
– When the oven reads 325°F(163°C), close the oven door and bake the pies for 5 minutes longer. At 5 minutes, the pies should still be jiggly in the bulls eye center, but not around the outer edges. If the filling is still too jiggly, leave the pies in the oven an additional 5 minutes or so.

  • If the pies are browning too fast on top and yet are still too jiggly, place a cold sheet pan on an oven rack right above the pies.

4. Cool the pies to room temperature. Then freeze.

– Gently take the half sheet pan of pies out of the oven and transfer to a rack to cool at room temperature. (You can speed up the cooling process by carefully transferring the pies to the fridge or freezer if you’re in a hurry.)
– Then freeze your pies for at least 3 hours or overnight to condense the filling for a dense final product – the signature of a perfectly executed crack pie.

5. Sprinkle with powdered sugar, if desired, and serve.

– Decorate your pies with confectioners sugar sprinkled through a fine sieve or the pinch of your fingers, if you wish. (That is their signature look, but I think the pies are beautiful as they are.)

  • Wrap the crack pies if you are not serving them right away.

TO STORE:
Keep refrigerated. Or freeze.

Brown Butter Crack Pies
*****
Brown Butter Crack Pie slices

About this recipe

This Brown Butter “Crack Pie” is rich and decadent. It’s sweet and salty, soft and chewy. And the brown butter adds nutty, toasty undertones.

The recipe has four parts and many steps. But it is not difficult to make and only takes patience. (Lots of setting time.)

TIPS:

Here are 4 helpful tips:

1) About oats, corn powder and powdered milk in the brown butter:

Old-fashioned rolled oats: Use old-fashioned rolled oats or even Quick-cooking oats. But don’t use steel-cut, Irish or Scottish oats. They are too coarse. Don’t use instant oats either. They are pre-cooked and can become mushy.

Old-fashioned rolled oats

Corn Powder: Corn powder adds a flavor and textural element to your pie. If you can’t find corn powder, use freeze-dried corn and pulverize it in a food processor. Otherwise, just skip it and add a couple more tablespoons of milk powder instead.

Powdered milk in the brown butter: Powdered milk intensifies the flavor of brown butter by increasing the amount of toasty milk solids. Toasty milk solids is where so much of the flavor is.

Foamy brown butter with powdered milk

**Note: If you want a firmer, chewier, toffee-like texture in your Brown Butter Crack Pies, or if your are planning on using it for Brown Butter Crack Pie Ice Cream, stir in an extra 31 g (1/4 cup) milk powder into the filling.

2) To get the cleanest slices: a hot knife and a chilled pie.

– For clean slices of this very sticky pie, heat up a knife with a smooth edge under hot water (Wipe dry.) and slice the pie straight out of the refrigerator while still very cold. If the pie is still too soft to get clean slices, slice the pie frozen.

Clean slices of Brown Butter Crack Pie

3) Can’t finish a whole pie? Slice and freeze.

– If you have a lot of leftover pie, slice and then securely wrap individual slices in plastic wrap for freezing. Pie on demand! (Brown Butter Crack Pie is great straight from the freezer!)

Wrapping slices of pie

4) Want to skip browning the butter?

If you wish to make Milk Bar Pie as it is in the original recipe (without browning the butter), follow the recipe (except don’t brown the butter) with the adjustments below:

Oatmeal Cookie:
– Omit the milk powder and milk.

Crack Pie filling:
– Mix the milk powder in with the dry ingredients.
– Omit 60 ml (1/4 cup) heavy cream.

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Brown Butter Crack Pie
*****

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