If the story of Momofuku is David Chang turning a ramen obsession into a series of wildly successful restaurants, then the story of Momofuku Milk Bar is Christina Tosi turning whatever she could find in the Momofuku kitchen into delicious desserts. I bought the book with the intent of correcting my cereal milk panna cotta disaster, but I was quickly sidetracked by the other recipes. My first foray, cornflake-chocolate-chip-marshmallow cookies, was a huge hit with the family holiday cookie exchange. I had intended on continuing through the book, moving from cookies to cakes, but there was a recipe at the end that kept calling to me: crack pie. How could I not make something with that name?
Crack pie is a variation on traditional chess pie, which is best described as pecan pie without the nuts. That description would lead you to believe that the final product would be a crust full of goo, but the addition of milk and corn powders provide extra thickening. The filling is poured into a crust made from oatmeal cookie, which is where I began.
Rolled oats, butter, light brown sugar, flour, granulated sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and an egg yolk made enough batter to almost fill a quarter sheet pan. I had to restrain myself from nibbling at the cookie, which was much tastier than the oatmeal cookies I usually ignore. (Perhaps it has something to do with the absence of raisins.)
I pulsed the cookie with some additional salt and brown sugar, then mixed the crumbs with melted butter and divided the mix between two pie tins to make the crusts. I turned my attention to the filling, which was made from egg yolks, melted butter, heavy cream, light brown sugar, granulated sugar, salt, vanilla extract, powdered milk, and corn powder (made by pulverizing freeze dried corn kernels.)
I combined all of the dry ingredients in my mixer, then added the butter, cream & vanilla, and finally the eggs, beating at each step until the mixture was homogeneous.
I divided the filling between the two pie shells. I’ve given up on trying to eyeball equal amounts, relying on my scale to measure out equal weights instead.
After baking for 15 minutes at 350°F, I dropped the temperature to 325°F and continued to bake until just the center was still loose. After cooling the pies to room temperature, I froze them overnight, which Tosi describes as “the signature technique and result of a perfectly executed crack pie.” I transferred one of my perfectly executed pies to the fridge for an hour before serving with a scoop of chocolate cayenne ice cream, some whipped cream, and a spoonful of peanut butter powder.
Tosi mentions more than once in her book that she has a sweet tooth. I should have been tipped off by the sweetness of the cookies I had made, but I was not prepared for the sugar hit I got from the pie. It’s very sweet, a level of sweetness that made the ice cream act as the dessert’s savory component. Still, I couldn’t stop eating the pie – it was delicious, with perfect contrast between the crunchy and slightly salty crust and the firm, chewy filling. I had to force myself not to eat another piece, a testimony to the pie’s name. I purposely kept the second pie in the freezer to avoid wanting “just one more piece.”
But I’m okay, I can handle it. I’ve got it under control, really. I may be buying more eggs and butter this weekend, but it’s for breakfast, so back off.