Since Sam and I enjoyed doing our cake collab together so much, we figured we would venture into another Milkbar classic, this time being pies! Milkbar/crack pie is such a staple, and we wanted to do our own interpretation of it using some ingredients to bring in a more festive feel. Fun fact, the original dessert Christina Tosi made was called “crack pie”, but she has since renamed it to “Milkbar pie”. The reasons, I’ve heard many different ones, so I won’t bother listing all of them here, but the TLDR version of it is just to make the pie more synonymous with the bakery, and what easier way to do that then give the pie the bakery’s namesake? But enough context about the semi-origin stories of Milkbar/crack pie. There’s literally a whole segment on it in Chef’s Table on Netflix you can watch if you need any more information on how it came to be. What you need to know is that crack pie consists of an oat cookie crust, this sugary, buttery, gooey filling, and is usually dusted with confectioner’s sugar because, well, America.
For our interpretation of this Christina Tosi classic, we went with an almond-based crack pie filling, as an homage to a bourdaloue(French pear and almond) tart, something Sam mastered during her time in culinary school. We also have poached pears as an actual component in the pie itself, since that would be a fun way to introduce a rather festive dessert into the pie filling. I added a couple of fun touches to the pie as well, being honey butter potato chips, something my friend Ann introduced me to, and an almond snow, using tapioca maltodextrin to create it, since making maltodextrin snows and ashes is a ton of fun, and they work beautifully in dessert in terms of subtly introducing a flavor into it. The honey butter potato chips, which hilariously are a popular snack in Korea, add a fun salty-sweet crunch to the cookies, in place of the oats you would normally find. I scaled my recipe for the crust so that you will need roughly a single 2-oz bag of the chips to make this pie! For the snow, that was my way of doing a powdered sugar-looking component, but without caking the finished pie in too much sugar. I like my sweetness in moderation, because, well, Taiwan.
Both the poached pear and pie filling recipes will be on Sam’s site, while the crust and almond snow recipes will be on mine! For the crust, I went with a honey butter potato chip crust, making cookies out of the potato chips with extra honey and butter first. Traditional(as weird as it is to say it) Milkbar/crack pie uses an oat cookie crust. Meaning, you have to bake oat cookies, or a giant oat cookie bar first, then crumble it with some melted butter, and mush that into the sides of a tart pan. It would then be rebaked with the filling until that mixture is almost fully-baked. The carry over cooking will do the rest, although Sam’s recipe will cover that process in more detail. For my version, I went ahead and baked the poached pears directly into the pie filling, although I believe Sam used the pears as a topping instead, which adds a lot more height to the pie(either or is fine, I just wanted my pie to be more compact so I could store it easier). What I love about the almond-brown butter snow is that is adds a fragrant nuttiness that works well with both the pear and the honey butter potato chips, so this recipe really does come together quite nicely!
For the honey butter potato chip crust:
1 stick unsalted butter, at room temperature, plus 4 tbsp more
½ cup dark brown sugar
½ tsp salt
1 tsp vanilla extract
3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking powder
¼ cup almond meal
2oz loosely crushed honey butter potato chips
In a bowl, whip the butter with honey, sugar, salt, and vanilla for about 5 minutes, or until fluffy in texture and pale brown in color. At this point, add in the egg first, then fold in the flour, baking powder, almond meal, and finally, the potato chips. Spread the dough into a lined sheet tray to about 1/16-inch thickness and bake at 375 degrees F for 15 minutes. Allow the dough to cool slightly before mixing it with 4 tbsp browned butter to form another dough. Press the dough into the sides of a lined tart pan.
For the almond-brown butter snow:
1oz brown butter
2oz Almond Inspiration/almond butter
A pinch of salt
½ cup tapioca maltodextrin
If using the Almond Inspiration, melt the chocolate down with the brown butter over a double boiler. If using the almond butter, just skip that step. Mix everything together to form a light brown snow-like powder. Store in an airtight container if not using right away. Dust the finished tart with the snow in lieu of powdered sugar.