What the Heck is Anderson Cooper Talking About?: Crack Pie

Recently, I couldn't help noticing that the food blogosphere has been hopping with stories about the Crack Pie at Momofuku Milk Bar in New York City. The pie is a variation of chess pie, a Southern classic. While I haven't the pleasure of visiting Milk Bar, I am a huge fan of chef David Chang -- the mind behind all of the Momofuku restaurants -- and until someone proves otherwise, I'm going to stick with my current opinion that he can do no wrong.

What really piqued my interest in Crack Pie, however, was hearing CNN's Anderson Cooper rave -- on multiple occasions -- that he is completely addicted to the stuff. After all, Anderson Cooper is not exactly an Oprah type who regularly goes around gabbing about his favorite things. I figured if he's hooked, this pie has got to be some good stuff. In January, the Martha Stewart Show aired a segment where Martha visited Milk Bar, and David Chang and pastry chef Christina Tosi showed her how to make the pie. I watched the video (you can see it here) a few times and transcribed the recipe. Then a few weeks later, the LA Times ran an article on Crack Pie and printed the recipe. I couldn't wait to give it a try.

You start out by making your own oatmeal cookie. After it cools, you crumble it up and run it through the food processor with brown sugar, salt, and butter to make the crust, which you then press into two pie tins (the recipe yields two pies). This oatmeal cookie smelled absolutely amazing in the oven, and it also tasted delicious. I was getting pretty excited about this pie even after just making the crust.

The filling is very simple. It's just brown sugar, granulated sugar, salt, milk powder, melted butter, heavy cream, vanilla, and egg yolks. I used 10-inch pie pans as directed in the recipe and I was a little concerned as to how little filling there was. When I poured the filling into the pans, there wasn't a lot of it and I was wondering it there was too much exposed crust above the filling.

However, after 30 minutes in the oven (I ended up baking my pies for 5 minutes longer than the recipe suggested), the filling had risen nicely, right up to the top of the crust. The filling was quite puffy and jiggly when I took it out of the oven, but it soon sank and firmed up upon cooling. The top was nicely golden and I refrigerated the pies overnight.

The next day, I sprinkled the pies liberally with powdered sugar before serving. I had a huge problem with the bottom crust sticking to the pan, and when I tried to cut slices, I couldn't get them out of the pan cleanly. I made a couple more pies later in the week and tried to see if some baking spray on the bottom of the pie tins and lots of tamping down on the pie crust might help. It didn't seem to make any difference, and I still had a major stickage problem. Out of four pies I made, I was able to get one slice out cleanly, and it's the one you see in the picture below.

So what's the verdict on Crack Pie? It pretty much tastes like the gooey part of a pecan pie, without the pecans. If you like pecan pie, you'll love Crack Pie. Pecan pie happens to be my least favorite pie in the world; even so, I thought this pie was quite tasty. The crust is absolutely delicious, and the creamy/gooey texture is just luxuriously decadent. It's very sweet. Tom said he swears he could feel a cavity forming as he tried a slice. I would not rate it as addictive, but I can definitely see how some folks might go bananas over the stuff.

Momofuku sells whole Crack Pies for $44. If you live outside of New York City, they will send you one via FedEx for a pretty penny. But if you're interested in trying it, I suggest you put away your wallet and just try the recipe for yourself!

Recipe: Crack Pie from Christina Tosi of Momofuku Milk Bar, printed in the February 11, 2010 Los Angeles Times.

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Louise said…
I've been meaning to try Crack Pie too, but have other recipes in the queue. I'm not sure I'll care for it as it looks like too many calories is a forkful. I've been collecting blog notes to use when I get around to making the pie. The problem you had with the crust doesn't seem to be common. I watched the Martha video and the one listed below. I just came across these minis.