#39 – Cookie Crusts

#39 – Cookie Crusts

This is Recipe Roundup. Last week we talked about ways to make a holiday feast a little healthier. As promised, this week we are going to do the opposite!

I’m a big pie fanatic. To me this isn’t a question of the dessert’s merits up against cake – I believe both have their time and place. My obsession with pie is about the amount of customization the simple framework of a round pastry offers. It can be savory or sweet; It can have a top or be open faced; Pies take ingredients that are otherwise unlikely to be eaten, like rhubarb, and make them into glorious delights. 

 

Filling by nature is almost always going to be delicious unless major mistakes are made. I’m not a big crust fan – I’ve been known to shamelessly ditch anywhere from 25 to 75% of the crust on a piece of pie and just gobble up it’s innards. That’s why when making a pie, I believe that crust is key. 

 

Unless you have a pastry recipe that is hands down delicious – perfectly crisp, flaky, and buttery …a crust that brings an integral element rather than just existing as the outer container for filling – then I highly recommend experimenting with cookie crusts. 

 

We’re all familiar with the pre-made graham cracker crusts that are great in a pinch. But let’s take it to the next level. The best cookies for cookie crusts are usually the cheapest – the big packs of basic wafer cookies that you would lay out on your office counter. Almond Windmills, coconut butter cookies, vanilla wafers, ginger snaps, digestive biscuits – you want them to be crisp as opposed to anything soft baked. You are more than welcome to use more expensive cookies, but only as it suits your tastes to do so. You can also use cookies that have chips in them. 

Ingredients:

1 1/2 cups of cookie crumbs

5 – 6 tbs of melted butter

1 – 1/4 cup sugar

Any add-ins as discussed below

 

Directions:

  1. Your first step is to crush the cookies into nice, uniform crumbs. A food processor or blender that is completely dry works great for this – but if you have neither, you can place the cookies in a plastic food bag and use a rolling pin on top to crush them down.
  2. Once they are all crushed up, you have the opportunity to add anywhere from 1 tablespoon  to  ¼ cup of sugar. If you think you will be happy with the sweetness as is, just stick with a tablespoon – it will still help to bring the crust together. Mix the sugar into the crumbs
  3. Finally, add in 5-6 tablespoons of melted butter and mix completely.
  4. Use your fingers to press the mixture into a 8-9 inch pie pan.
  5. If you’re making a no-bake pie, it’s not necessary to pre-bake your pie crust, but I always do anyway. Just make sure the crust cools completely before you put your filling in to set.
  6. For baking pies, pre-bake your crust for 7 minutes at 375 F

 

Let’s talk about some combination suggestions:

  • Ginger snaps with lemon or even a pecan pie
  • Coconut cookies with a key lime or chocolate silk pie
  • Almond or spice cookies with pumpkin and squash pies.
  • Vanilla wafers will work with just about anything, but of course, a banana creme pie comes to mind.

The combinations are endless!

 

Feel free to add little things into your cookie crust like:

  • small chunks of crystallized ginger
  • craisins
  • citrus zest
  • extra spices.

You can also add another dimension to your crust by browning the butter before adding it to the crumbs. 

 

**A final note about sandwich cookies – sandwich cookies like Oreos can also be used, but my suggestion is to separate the wafers from the cream inside. Crush the wafers like normal, then use 6-8 tablespoons of the leftover cream (adding butter if needed) to make the pressable dough.  (Don’t try to completely melt this cream, but soften it using 5-10 second intervals in the microwave or in a double boiler.)

 If you try this out, please send your reviews and pictures to sage@amrmail.org

For Recipe Roundup, this is Sage Tanguay.

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