Salted Brown Butter Birthday Blondies

My daughter is a blondie girl. ❤ We enjoyed these amazing no-frills blondies as part of her 15th birthday celebration this year.

The original recipe is titled Caramel Canvas Blondies in Midwest Made: Big Bold Baking from the Heartland by Shauna Sever, one of my favorite books. Sever comments that they are known by many other names such as Butterscotch Bars or Toffee Bars in Midwest community cookbooks.

The salted caramel-esque base could easily accommodate any add-in but my birthday girl requested this minimalist version. 🙂 Classic, crowd-pleasing deliciousness.

Yield: about 2 dozen bars

  • non-stick cooking spray, for pan
  • 384g (3 cups, spooned and leveled) all-purpose flour
  • 2 1/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp flaky sea salt (I used Maldon)
  • 1/2 tsp fine sea salt
  • 480g (2 cups plus 2 T, firmly packed) light brown sugar
  • 3 large eggs, fridge cold
  • 1 large (20g) egg yolk, fridge cold
  • 1 T pure vanilla extract
  • 3 sticks (1 1/2 cups or 339g) unsalted butter, browned and cooled
  • 2 to 3 cups (about 300 to 450g) chocolate chips, nuts, candy bits, or other mix-ins, optional
  1. Make the Brown Butter: Place the butter in a light-colored pan over medium heat. Cook until foaming, amber in color, and until the milk-solids brown and separate, about 5 to 7 minutes. Immediately remove from heat and transfer to a heat-proof bowl to cool.
  2. Position a rack in the center of the oven. Preheat to 325 F (170 C), preferably on convection.
  3. Spray a 9×13-inch (23×33 cm) metal baking pan with non-stick cooking spray. Line the pan with parchment paper, leaving an overhang on 2 opposite sides. Set aside.
  4. In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, and flaky and fine salt.
  5. In a large bowl, whisk together the brown sugar, eggs, egg yolk, and vanilla until lighter in color and texture, about 1 minute.
  6. Whisk in the cooled browned butter.
  7. Fold in the flour mixture just until no dry floury streaks remain.
  8. Fold in mix-ins, if using. Stir until just combined.
  9. Scrape the batter into the prepared pan and use and offset spatula to smooth the top.
  10. Bake until the blondies are fragrant and golden, with a slightly glossy surface and a raised, wrinkled perimeter beginning to pull away from the sides of the pan, about 30 minutes in a convection oven or up to 40 minutes in a standard oven.
  11. Let cool completely in the pan set on a wire rack.
  12. Using the parchment paper, lift the blondies out of the pan to transfer to a cutting board. Cut into bars of desired size.

Note: Store blondies in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 5 days.

Salted Caramel Apple Cookies

Wow. These cookies may be my new favorite autumn dessert. I knew that we would love them when they were described as if “a caramel apple and a snickerdoodle got together and created some seriously delicious magic.” 🙂

This recipe is from Bon Appétit, contributed by Kelly Janke. I used Kanzi apples. Apparently, any type of apple will work in these cookies.

The original recipe stresses the importance of cooking the apple caramel to the proper consistency. It was a little tricky, but the instructions were very helpful. All of the liquid from the apples is cooked down until it has evaporated, leaving behind a “tacky and pliable” caramel. This wonderful caramel is folded into the cookie dough to create swirls in the finished cookies- fabulous.

Yield: Makes 25 cookies

For the Apple Caramel:

  • 3 medium apples (about 1 1/2 lbs total), peeled, cored (I used 3 (1 lb 6 oz total) Kanzi apples)
  • 1 1/4 cups (250 g) granulated sugar
  • 1/8 tsp cream of tartar
  • 2 T chilled unsalted butter
  • 1 1/2 tsp Diamond Crystal or 1 tsp Morton kosher salt
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground cardamom (I used freshly ground cardamom, sifted)
  • 1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg

For the Dough & Assembly:

  • 3 1/2 cups (438 g) all-purpose flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp Diamond Crystal or 1 tsp Morton kosher salt
  • 1 tsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp cream of tartar
  • 1 cup (2 sticks) chilled unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1 cup (200 g) granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup, packed (100 g) dark brown sugar
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1 T vanilla extract
  • flaky sea salt (I used Maldon)

To Make the Apple Caramel:

  1. In a food processor with the grater attachment, coarsely grate apples (or use large holes of a box grater).
  2. Transfer grated apples to a clean kitchen towel and squeeze over a medium bowl to extract all the juice possible. (I just squeezed the grated apples with my clean hands!)
  3. Measure out 1/4 cup (4 T) apple juice and set aside (save any leftover apple juice for another use).
  4. Set grated apples aside (you should have about 2 1/2 cups).
  5. Bring sugar, cream of tartar, and reserved 1/4 cup (4 T) apple juice to a rapid boil in a large saucepan over medium heat, stirring just to dissolve sugar. Cook, without stirring but swirling pan often, until bubbles slow and caramel turns a deep amber color, 5–7 minutes.
  6. Remove caramel from heat and stir in butter, salt, cinnamon, cardamom, and nutmeg.
  7. Set pan over medium-low heat and add reserved grated apples, stirring quickly to combine (don’t worry if the caramel mixture looks like it’s seizing at first). Cook apple caramel, stirring constantly, until it’s noticeably stickier, the liquid has evaporated, and it almost forms a ball as you stir, 10–14 minutes. (Don’t be tempted to continue cooking- if the caramel becomes too dry it will be more of a fruit leather when it cools.)
  8. Scrape apple caramel onto a parchment-lined baking sheet and spread out in an even layer. Let cool, at least 30 minutes.
  9. Set 1/4 cup apple caramel aside for topping cookies.

To Make the Dough, Assemble, & Bake:

  1. Place racks in upper and lower thirds of oven and preheat to 375°. (I used the true convection setting.)
  2. Whisk flour, salt, baking soda, and cream of tartar in a medium bowl to combine.
  3. Beat butter, granulated sugar, and brown sugar in a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, starting on low speed, then increasing speed to medium, until combined, about 2 minutes total.
  4. Add eggs one at a time, incorporating thoroughly before adding the next, then add vanilla.
  5. Reduce speed to low; add dry ingredients and mix just until combined.
  6. Add apple caramel and pulse mixer two or three times to swirl caramel throughout dough or fold in caramel using a sturdy rubber spatula (take care not to overmix or else you’ll lose the swirled caramel effect as the cookies bake).
  7. Using a 3 T (#20) cookie scoop portion out 16 balls and divide between 2 parchment-lined baking sheets, spacing at least 2″ apart (you will have dough left over for a 2nd batch).
  8. Top each cookie with a few small pieces of reserved apple caramel and sprinkle with flaky sea salt.
  9. Bake cookies, rotating baking sheets top to bottom and front to back halfway through, until golden brown at the edges, 12 to 16 minutes.
  10. Let cookies cool 5 minutes on baking sheets then transfer to a wire rack and let cool completely.
  11. On cool cookie sheets, repeat process with remaining dough to make 8 (or 9) more cookies.

Do ahead: Cookies can be made 5 days ahead. Store airtight at room temperature. (True! Still delicious the next day.)

Salted Caramel Ice Cream

My daughter and I planned to make caramel cookies and cream ice cream after enjoying the flavor at Storm Bros. Ice Cream Factory in Annapolis, Maryland this spring.

I started (and finished!) my caramel ice cream recipe search with Jeni Britton. One of my favorite homemade ice creams is Jeni Britton’s Vanilla Bean– I make it at least once a summer. President Biden is also big fan of her ice cream. She has a new flavor, White House Chocolate Chip, inspired by his favorite order. 🙂

The secret to her fabulously creamy ice cream is the inclusion of corn starch and cream cheese in the base. “Salty Caramel” is one of the most popular flavors in their stores. The caramel is made using a dry-burn technique. The resulting caramel flavor is rich and sophisticated.

This recipe was adapted from Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams at Home by Jeni Britton Bauer, via BonAppetit.com, contributed by Julia Bainbridge. I modified the technique. We first used the ice cream as filling in snickerdoodle ice cream sandwiches. Yum! The leftover ice cream was served with crushed Oreos as a topping instead of being mixed in. Perfect- beyond creamy too.

Yield: about 1 quart

  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1 tablespoon plus 1 teaspoon cornstarch
  • 1 1/2 ounces (3 tablespoons) cream cheese, softened
  • 1/2 teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 1/4 cups heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons light corn syrup
  • 2/3 cup granulated sugar
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  1. Mix about 2 tablespoons of the milk with the cornstarch in a small bowl to make a smooth slurry.
  2. Using a hand mixer, beat the cream cheese and salt in a medium bowl until smooth. (I used a stainless steel bowl.)
  3. Mix the cream with the corn syrup in a measuring cup with a spout.
  4. Fill a large bowl with ice and water. (I used a giant glass bowl. It is important that the bowl with the cream cheese can easily fit into the bowl of ice water.)
  5. Heat the sugar in a 4-quart saucepan over medium heat until it is melted and golden amber in color. **Note: This is a dry-burn technique- be cautious. Caramelizing the sugar this way is faster but you have to watch it very closely and be ready to incorporate the cream.** See below.
    • The Dry-Burn Caramelization Technique:
    • Stand over the pan of sugar with a heatproof spatula ready. Do not touch the sugar until there is a full layer of melted and browning liquid sugar on the bottom of the pan with a smaller layer of unmelted white sugar on the top.
    • When the edges of the melted sugar begin to darken, use the spatula to bring it into the center to help melt the unmelted sugar.
    • Continue stirring and pushing the sugar around until it is all melted and evenly amber in color- like an old penny.
    • When little bubbles begin to explode with dark smoke, give the sugar another moment and then remove from the heat.
  6. Immediately after removing from the heat, and, stirring constantly, slowly add a bit (about 1/4 cup) of the cream and corn syrup mixture to the caramel: It will fizzle, pop, and spurt. Stir until well combined, then add a little more and stir. Keep adding the cream a little at a time until all of it is incorporated.
  7. Return the pan to medium-high heat and add the milk. Bring to a rolling boil and boil for 4 minutes. Remove from the heat.
  8. Gradually whisk in the cornstarch slurry.
  9. Bring back to a boil over medium-high and cook, stirring with a heatproof spatula, until slightly thickened, about 1 minute. Remove from the heat.
  10. Gradually whisk the hot milk mixture into the cream cheese until smooth. (I used a hand-held mixer.)
  11. Add the vanilla and whisk.
  12. Place the bowl in the ice bath, making sure that the ice water doesn’t come in contact with the ice cream base.
  13. Let stand, stirring occasionally and adding more ice as necessary, until cold, about 30 minutes.
  14. Using a fine mesh sieve, strain mixture into a frozen ice cream machine canister. Churn until thick and creamy. (I churned mine for 25 minutes.)
  15. Pack the ice cream into a storage container, press a sheet of parchment or plastic wrap directly against the surface, and seal with an airtight lid. (I used a glass loaf pan.)
  16. Freeze in the coldest part of your freezer until firm, at least 4 hours. (I froze the ice cream a day in advance.)

Buttery Apple Crêpes with Cinnamon Custard & Salted Caramel Sauces

Crêpes have always been special to my family because my dad made them for breakfast on Sundays when I was growing up. We always make sure to have them at least once a year- on Christmas morning. We typically eat them simply sprinkled with sugar and occasionally with jam or fresh fruit as well.

I made these fancy crêpes for our celebratory Valentine’s Day dessert from a crêpe cookbook that my sister gave me for my birthday. ❤ I loved the browned butter in the crêpe batter. As a sauce fan, I also loved that these crêpes were served with two wonderful sauces.

This recipe was adapted from Crêpes: 50 Savory and Sweet Recipes by Martha Holmberg. I made the sauces and crêpe batter a day in advance. Delicious!

Yield: Makes 6 to 8 filled crêpes plus extra crêpes and sauce

For the Salted Caramel Sauce:

Yield: 3/4 cup (180 ml)

  • 100 g (1/2 cup) granulated sugar
  • 2 tsp light corn syrup
  • 6 T heavy cream or crème fraîche
  • 1 T unsalted butter
  • 1/8 tsp pure vanilla extract
  • 1/4 tsp coarse salt or coarse sea salt
  1. Put the granulated sugar, corn syrup, and 2 tablespoons of water in a small, heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium-high heat. Bring to a boil, stirring just until the sugar is beginning to dissolve.
  2. Let the mixture boil without stirring, occasionally swirling the pan, until it is a deep amber, very fragrant, and you can see tiny wisps of smoke, 4 to 12 minutes. Watch carefully!
  3. Remove the saucepan from the heat and carefully pour in a small amount of the cream; it will bubble up furiously. Whisk in remaining cream a little at a time so it doesn’t bubble over.
  4. Whisk in the butter, vanilla, and salt until the caramel is very smooth.
  5. Transfer to a serving bowl and let it cool to room temperature; it will thicken as it cools.
  6. Serve warm or at room temperature. (I made it a day in advance and refrigerated it overnight. I brought it to room temperature prior to serving.)

Note: Stored in an airtight container, the finished sauce will keep in the refrigerator for 1 month or in the freezer for 3 months.

For the Cinnamon Custard Sauce (Crème Anglaise):

Yield: 1 cup (240 ml)

  • 1/2 cup (120 ml) whole milk
  • 1/2 cup (120 ml) heavy cream
  • 2 large egg yolks
  • 50 g (1/4 cup) lightly packed light or dark brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • pinch of coarse salt or sea salt flakes
  1. Heat the milk and cream in a medium saucepan over medium heat until it’s just beginning to steam. Watch carefully! Don’t let it boil- it will change the flavor.
  2. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl with a spout, whisk together the egg yolks, brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt until well blended but not foamy.
  3. Slowly pour half of the hot milk-cream mixture into the bowl with the egg mixture, whisking constantly and quickly.
  4. Return the pan with the remaining milk and cream to the heat and whisk the yolk-cream mixture into the pan.
  5. Switch the whisk to a heat-proof rubber spatula or a wooden spoon, and gently cook the sauce, scraping the bottom and sides of the pan, until the custard thickens and registers 175 to 180 F (80 to 82 C) on a candy or instant-read thermometer.
  6. Transfer to a serving bowl and let cool to room temperature. Chill in the refrigerator until cold, about 2 hours.

Notes: Half & Half can be substituted for the combination of whole milk and heavy cream. The finished sauce will keep for 3 days in the refrigerator.

For the Sautéed Apple Filling:

  • 4 T (55 g) unsalted butter
  • 4 firm, tart apples (800g / 1.75 lbs) such as Braeburns, peeled, cored, and cut into 1/2-inch (12mm) dice (I used 4 large (840g) Ruby Frost apples)
  • 75 g (6 T) granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp ground cinnamon
  • pinch of coarse salt
  1. Melt the butter in a large skillet over medium heat.
  2. When the butter is foamy, add the apples and cook, stirring occasionally, until they’re almost tender, 5 to 8 minutes.
  3. Sprinkle the apples with the granulated sugar, cinnamon, and salt and cook, stirring often, until the apples are tender when pricked with a fork, 3 to 4 minutes more.
  4. Remove the pan from the heat and let the apples cool slightly.

For the Brown Butter Crêpes:

Yield: 15 to 18 8-inch crêpes

  • 1 3/4 cups (420 ml) whole milk (can add up to a total of 2 1/4 cups (540 ml) to adjust consistency)
  • 4 large eggs
  • 1/2 tsp coarse salt
  • 190 g (1 1/2 cups) all-purpose flour
  • 6 T (85 g) unsalted butter
  • butter or vegetable oil, for the pan
  1. In a small pan over medium heat, melt the butter. Continue to cook until the butter turns golden brown and smells nutty and delicious. Pour melted butter and browned milk solids into a glass measuring cup with a spout to cool before using.
  2. Put 1 3/4 cups milk (420 ml), the eggs, and salt into a blender. (I used a Vitamix.) Process for a few seconds to blend.
  3. Remove the lid and add the flour. Cover and blend until very smooth, about 20 seconds.
  4. Remove the lid, pour in the browned butter- including the toasty brown milk solids, cover, and process until combined, about 10 seconds more.
  5. Transfer the batter to a large glass measuring cup with a spout.
  6. Let the batter rest at least 5 minutes and up to 24 hours. (If resting for more than 30 minutes, store in the refrigerator.)
  7. Before making the crêpes, test the batter’s consistency: it should be as thick as heavy cream but not as thick as pancake batter. If it’s too thick, whisk in up to 1/2 cup (120 ml) of the remaining milk.
  8. Heat an 8-inch (20 cm) crêpe pan over medium-low to medium heat until it’s hot enough to make a drop of water sizzle upon contact. (I always check to make sure the base of the handle is hot.)
  9. Using a heat-proof brush, coat the pan with oil. (Alternatively, use a folded paper towel to coat the pan with 1/2 teaspoon of butter. The butter should sizzle but not turn brown. Adjust the heat of the pan, if necessary.)
  10. Using a ladle, pour about 1/4 cup (60 ml) of the batter into the center of the pan, and at the same time lift the pan from the heat, tilting and turning it in all directions sos the batter spreads evenly across the bottom of the pan in a thin circle. (If the crêpe has any holes in it, quickly add a few drops of batter to fill them in. If there is excessive batter, immediately pour the excess back into the bowl of batter.)
  11. Cook the crêpe until the edges begin to dry and lift from the sides of the pan and the bottom is nicely browned, about 1 minute.
  12. Use a table knife, slim spatula or your fingers to lift the crêpe and quickly flip it over. Smooth out any folded edges or pleats and then cook unit the center is firm and the second side is browned, about 20 seconds more. (The first side is almost always prettier and more evenly browned so it is noted as the presentation side.)
  13. Slide the crêpe from the pan onto a large plate.
  14. Repeat with the remaining batter, adjusting the heat and wiping the pan with more oil or butter as you cook.
  15. The finished crepes can be stacked on each other as they are done.

Note: Leftover crêpes can be wrapped tightly and stored in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. If storing them in the freezer, lay pieces of waxed or parchment paper between them so that they don’t stick together. They will keep in the freezer for 2 to 3 months. To thaw, let the stack sit at room temperature until the crêpes are pliable, about an hour.

To Finish the Dish:

  1. Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 425 F(220 C).
  2. Butter the bottom of a baking dish. (or use cooking oil spray) (I only baked 4 filled-crêpes at a time, so I used a small baking dish. If baking all at once, use a 9×13-inch baking dish. The crêpes should be tightly packed.
  3. Lay the crêpes presentation-side down on a clean work surface.
  4. Divide the apples equally among the crêpes, spooning them onto the bottom third of each one.
  5. To fold the crêpes, pull the bottom edge of each crêpe up and over the apples, then roll it up a half turn. Tuck in each side, and finish rolling up from the bottom.
  6. Arrange the crêpes seam-side down in a single layer in the prepared baking dish.
  7. Bake until heated through, 4 to 10 minutes.
  8. Spoon a thick ribbon of cinnamon custard on a dessert plate.
  9. Lay a crêpe over the custard sauce and drizzle the salted caramel sauce over the top. Serve immediately.

Vanilla Cupcake Ice Cream Sandwiches

Who isn’t a fan of an ice cream sandwich? We love every variation in my house, so, naturally, I had to try this version using vanilla cupcake tops.

This recipe was adapted from Food and Wine, contributed by Candace Nelson. I made the cupcake tops using a muffin top pan to give them more surface area- genius, right?

We gobbled up these all-American treats for dessert during the Super Bowl this year. I filled half with salted caramel gelato and half with vanilla bean ice cream. The vanilla ice cream-filled sandwiches were our favorite.

Yield: Serves 6

  1. Preheat the oven to 325°, preferably on convection. Coat a standard muffin pan or a muffin top pan with cooking oil spray.
  2. 
In a medium bowl, whisk the flour with the baking powder and salt.
  3. In a small bowl, whisk the milk with the vanilla.
  4. In a stand mixer fitted with the paddle, beat the butter with the sugar 
at medium-high speed, scraping down the bowl once or twice, until light and fluffy, about 2 minutes.
  5. At medium-low speed, beat in the eggs one at a time until incorporated.
  6. At low-speed, beat in the dry ingredients and the milk mixture in 3 alternating additions until smooth.
  7. Spoon about 1/4 cup of the batter into each prepared cup.
  8. Bake the cupcakes for 15 minutes if using a muffin top pan, or about 18 to 25 minutes in a standard pan, until a toothpick inserted in 
the centers comes out clean.
  9. Let cool in the pan for 5 minutes, then cool 
completely on a wire rack, about 1 hour.
  10. Working with 1 cupcake at a time, carefully slice off the cake top. Reserve 
the cupcake bottom for another use.
  11. Arrange the top smooth side down 
on a platter. Repeat with the remaining cupcakes. Freeze the tops for 1 hour.
  12. Spread 1/4 cup of the ice cream 
onto each of 6 cupcake tops.
  13. Close the sandwiches with the remaining cupcake tops and gently press together. Wrap individually in plastic wrap.
  14. Freeze for at least 30 minutes before serving.
Note: The ice cream sandwiches can be wrapped in plastic and frozen for up to 1 week. Let soften at room temperature for 10 minutes before serving.

One Year Ago: Cinnamon Swirl Bread

Two Years Ago: Country Apple Fritter Bread

Three Years Ago: Soft Baked Snickerdoodles

Four Years Ago:

Five Years Ago:

Ina Garten’s Salted Caramel Brownies

My daughter has loved a book series about a girl named “Kylie Jean” since she starting reading them in first grade. In one of the books, Kylie Jean Fashion Queen, Kylie’s mom bakes caramel brownies. My daughter has been asking for them ever since. I’m not sure why it has taken me so long to comply! (She’s in 5th grade this year. :/ )

The recipe for these super rich, moist and delicious brownies was adapted from Ina Garten’s Barefoot Contessa Foolproof via Food Network.com. I used large eggs, espresso powder, salted caramel sauce, and omitted the sprinkling of sea salt. We ate them with a scoop of vanilla ice cream. Decadent. Thanks, Kylie Jean! 🙂

  • 1/2 pound (2 sticks) unsalted butter
  • 14 ounces semisweet chocolate chips, divided
  • 3 ounces unsweetened chocolate (I used 72% cacao dark chocolate)
  • 3 large eggs
  • 1 T instant espresso or 1½ T instant coffee granules, such as Nescafé
  • 1 T pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup plus 2 T sugar
  • 1/2 cup plus 2 T all-purpose flour, divided
  • 1½ teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 4 to 6 ounces good caramel sauce (I used Trader Joe’s Salted Caramel Sauce)
  • 2 to 3 teaspoons flaked sea salt, such as Maldon (I omitted this because I used salted caramel sauce)
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, preferably on convection. Butter and flour a 9 x 13 x 1½-inch baking pan.
  2. Melt the butter, 8 ounces of the chocolate chips, and the unsweetened chocolate together in a medium bowl set over simmering water. Allow to cool for 15 minutes.
  3. In a large bowl, stir (do not beat) together the eggs, coffee, vanilla, and sugar.
  4. Stir the chocolate mixture into the egg mixture and allow to cool to room temperature.
  5. In a medium bowl, sift together ½ cup of the flour, the baking powder, and salt and add to the chocolate mixture.
  6. Toss the remaining 6 ounces of chocolate chips and the remaining 2 tablespoons of flour in a medium bowl and add them to the chocolate mixture.
  7. Spread evenly in the prepared pan.
  8. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, until a toothpick comes out clean. Don’t overbake!
  9. As soon as the brownies are out of the oven, place the jar of caramel sauce without the lid in a microwave and heat just until it’s pourable. Stir until smooth. Drizzle the caramel evenly over the hot brownies and sprinkle with the sea salt.
  10. Cool completely and cut into bars.

One Year Ago:

Two Years Ago:

Three Years Ago:

Four Years Ago:

Five Years Ago:

Momofuku Milk Bar’s Crack Pie

I am actually a fan of heart-shaped Valentine’s Day desserts. ❤ But, after receiving this recipe from Nancy of Feasting With Friends Blog, I knew that I had to make this pie to celebrate with my family this year. I suppose I could have made it more celebratory by dusting the confectioners’ sugar in hearts! Next time…

I have made the Bon Appetit version of this best-selling Momofuku Milk Bar pie a few times in the past. This version is the real deal (I think!). They are both delicious, of course! 😉 Salted caramel-esque. Sweet and salty with an oat cookie crust. Mmmmm!

If I had known it was going to be the coldest Valentine’s Day in 100 years, I may have picked a cozier dessert! :/ This version of the pie is served directly from the freezer… Thankfully, this is purely for texture, the actual pie didn’t taste cold. Whew! The original recipe makes 2 pies, so I divided it in half. (It sounds crazy, but I was scared to have too much of a good thing.)

By the way, there is truth in the name… we all had seconds! 😉 Happy Belated Valentine’s Day! ❤

Yield: One 10-inch pie or 9-inch pie, 8-10 servings

For the Oat Cookie:

  • 4 T unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 2 1/2 T tightly packed light brown sugar
  • 20 g (1/2 T) granulated sugar
  • 1/2 egg yolk
  • 40 g (1/4 cup) all-purpose flour
  • 60 g (3/4 cups) old-fashioned rolled oats
  • 0.25 g (1/16 tsp) baking powder
  • 0.125 g half-pinch baking soda
  • 1 g (1/4 tsp) kosher salt
  • pam or other nonstick cooking spray (optional)

For the Pie Filling:

  • 150 g (3/4 cup) granulated sugar
  • 90 g (1/4 cup plus 2 T) tightly packed light brown sugar
  • 10 g (2 T) milk powder
  • 12 g (2 T cup) freeze-dried corn powder
  • 3 g (3/4 tsp) kosher salt
  • 8 T butter, melted
  • 80 g (1/4 cup plus 2 T) heavy cream
  • 1 g (1/4 tsp) vanilla extract
  • 4 egg yolks**
  • confectioners’ sugar, for dusting, to finish

To Complete the Crust:

  • 1 recipe oat cookie (above)
  • 1/2 T (7.5 g) tightly packed light brown sugar
  • 1/2 g (1/8 tsp) coarse salt
  • 2 T (27.5 g) unsalted butter, melted, or up to 3/4 T (12.5 g) more, if needed

To Make the Oat Cookie:

  1. Heat the oven to 350°F, preferably on convection.
  2. Combine the butter and sugars in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and cream together on medium-high for 2 to 3 minutes, until fluffy and pale yellow in color. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula.
  3. Divide the egg yolk in half: Zero a bowl on a digital scale. Add whole egg yolk. Add half of the weight to the bowl.
  4. On low-speed, incorporate the egg yolk and increase the speed to medium­ high and beat for 1 to 2 minutes, until the sugar granules fully dissolve and the mixture is a pale white.
  5. On low-speed, add the flour, oats, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Mix for a minute, until your dough comes together and any remnants of dry ingredients have been incorporated. The dough will be a slightly fluffy, fatty mixture in comparison to your average cookie dough. Scrape down the sides of the bowl.
  6. Line a quarter sheet pan with parchment; spray with cooking spray.
  7. Plop the cookie dough in the center of the pan, cover with plastic wrap, and, with a spatula or rolling pin, spread it out until it is 1/4 inch thick. The dough will cover about half of the pan.
  8. Bake for 10 minutes, or until it resembles an oatmeal cookie-caramelized on top and puffed slightly but set firmly.
  9. Cool completely before using.

Note: Wrapped well in plastic, the oat cookie will keep fresh in the fridge for up to 1 week.

To Make the Filling:

  1. Combine the sugar, brown sugar, milk powder, corn powder, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment and mix on low-speed until evenly blended.
  2. Add the melted butter and paddle for 2 to 3 minutes until all the dry ingredients are moist.
  3. Add the heavy cream and vanilla and continue mixing on low for 2 to 3 minutes until any white streaks from the cream have completely disap­peared into the mixture. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a spatula.
  4. Add the egg yolks, paddling them into the mixture just to combine; be careful not to aerate the mixture, but be certain the mixture is glossy and homogenous. Mix on low-speed until it is.

Note: The filling can be used right away, or stored in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 1 week.

To Complete the Pie:

  1. Heat the oven to 350°F, preferably on convection.
  2. Put the oat cookie, brown sugar, and salt in a food processor and pulse it on and off until the cookie is broken down into a wet sand. (If you don’t have a food processor, you can fake it till you make it and crumble the oat cookie diligently with your hands.)
  3. Transfer the crumbs to a bowl, add the melted butter, and knead the butter and ground cookie mixture until moist enough to form into a ball. If it is not moist enough to do so, melt an additional 7 to 12 g (1/2 to 3/4 T) butter and knead it in.
  4. Using the bottom of a dry measuring cup, your fingers and/or the palms of your hands, press the oat cookie crust firmly into the pie dish, making sure the bottom and sides of the tin are evenly covered. Use the pie shells immediately, or wrap well in plastic and store at room temperature for up to 5 days or in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.
  5. Put the pie dish on a rimmed sheet pan. Place the filling in the pie crust; the filling should fill them three-quarters of the way full.
  6. Bake for 15 minutes only. The pies should be golden brown on top but will still be very jiggly.
  7. Open the oven door and reduce the oven temperature to 325°F. Depending on your oven, it may take 5 minutes or longer for the oven to cool to the new temperature. Keep the pie in the oven during this process.
  8. When the oven reaches 325°F, close the door and bake the pie for 5 minutes longer. The pie should still be jiggly in the bull’s-eye center but not around the outer edges. If the filling is still too jiggly, leave the pie in the oven for an additional 5 minutes or so.
  9. Gently take the pie out of the oven and transfer to a rack to cool to 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.)
  10. Then freeze the pie for at least 3 hours, or overnight, to condense the filling for a dense final product—freezing is the signature technique and result of a perfectly executed crack pie®.
  11. Serve your crack pie® cold! Decorate with confectioners’ sugar, either passing it through a fine sieve or dispatching pinches with your fingers.

Note: If not serving the pie right away, wrap well in plastic wrap. In the fridge, it will keep fresh for 5 days; in the freezer, it will keep for 1 month. Transfer the pie from the freezer to the refrigerator to defrost a minimum of 1 hour before you’re ready to serve.

**Note: It will be the death of your wildly dense pie filling if there is any bit of egg white in the mixture. The easiest, and best, way to separate an egg is to do so in your hands. You may also use the two half-shells to separate the eggs, but the cracked shells can tear the yolk open, and you may not totally separate all the white. If you do this by hand, you can feel when you get every last bit of white away from the yolk. Remember to wash your hands under warm soapy water for 30 seconds or more before and after you handle raw eggs!

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