Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Diary of a Secret Housewife: Momofuku Milk Bar's Crack Pie

Momofuku Milk Bar's Crack Pie raises a series of pressing questions: Will you gain 100 times the calories for eating crack pie than cocaine pie?  Would Whitney smoke this?  Most importantly, what kind of mystical pie experience is worth $44?  That's right.  $44.  For something that does not include any substances that can't be readily found in your fridge and pantry.

I had to know the answers to these mysteries.

So I made Crack Pie.  Twice.

And I am here to tell you that crack ain't whack.  

I mean, I wouldn't spend $44 on it.  But it's pretty damn good.

Momofuku's Crack Pie is basically a take on an old Southern dessert, Chess Pie.  It's sugar, cream, and butter baked in a cookie crust.  Momofuku's secret is a delicious, slightly salty fresh oatmeal cookie base and a bit of milk powder to enhance the flavoring of the gooey, butterscotch-like filling.  It's quite easy to make, though it takes multiple steps and a bit of cooling time.

Here's what you need for 1 pie:

Oat Cookie Crust
  • Nonstick vegetable oil spray
  • 9 tablespoons (1 stick plus 1 tablespoon) unsalted butter, room temperature, divided
  • 5 1/2 tablespoons (packed) golden brown sugar, divided
  • 2 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 large egg
  • 3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons old-fashioned oats
  • 1/2 cup all purpose flour
  • 1/8 teaspoon baking powder
  • 1/8 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon (generous) salt

  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup (packed) golden brown sugar
  • 1 tablespoon nonfat dry milk powder
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, melted, cooled slightly
  • 6 1/2 tablespoons heavy whipping cream
  • 4 large egg yolks
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • Powdered sugar (for dusting)

You begin by making the oatmeal cookie crust.  Preheat oven to 350°F. Line 13x9x2-inch metal baking pan with parchment paper; coat with nonstick spray. Combine 6 tablespoons butter, 4 tablespoons brown sugar, and 2 tablespoons sugar in medium bowl. Using electric mixer, beat mixture until light and fluffy, occasionally scraping down sides of bowl, about 2 minutes. Add egg; beat until pale and fluffy. Add oats, flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt and beat until well blended, about 1 minute. Turn oat mixture out onto prepared baking pan; press out evenly to edges of pan. Bake until light golden on top, 17 to 18 minutes. Transfer baking pan to rack and cool cookie completely.

Using hands, crumble oat cookie into large bowl; add 3 tablespoons butter and 1 1/2 tablespoons brown sugar. Rub in with fingertips until mixture is moist enough to stick together. Transfer cookie crust mixture to 9-inch-diameter glass pie dish. (I didn't have a glass pie dish, so I used cake pans the first time and a ceramic pie dish the second time.)  Using fingers, press mixture evenly onto bottom and up sides of pie dish. Place pie dish with crust on rimmed baking sheet.

Tip: As you can see, you'll essentially be baking the oatmeal cookie twice, the first time on its own, the second time crushed and made into the pie crust.  So don't overbake the cookie the first time, or else the crust will burn while the filling is being cooked.

Next, you make the filling.  Position rack in center of oven and preheat to 350°F. Whisk both sugars, milk powder, and salt in medium bowl to blend. Add melted butter and whisk until blended. Add cream, then egg yolks and vanilla and whisk until well blended. Pour filling into crust. Bake pie 15 to 20 minutes (filling may begin to bubble). Reduce oven temperature to 325°F. Continue to bake pie until filling is brown in spots and set around edges but center still moves slightly when pie dish is gently shaken, about 10 to 20 minutes longer

Tip: The second time I made the pie, I baked it according to Bon Appetit's instructions (30 min. at 350, then 20 min. at 325) and, as you can see from the photo, nearly burnt the pie.

The first time I made the pie, however, I followed the instructions on the LA Times website, and the pie came out perfect, if not just slightly underbaked.  The underlined time recommendations above are my own, based upon trial and error; they represent a middle range from both the Bon Appetit and the LA Times recipes.

When the pie has finished baking, cool pie 2 hours in pie dish on rack. Chill uncovered overnight.  Can be made 2 days ahead. Cover; keep chilled.

Sift powdered sugar lightly over top of pie. Cut pie into wedges and serve cold.

Prepare for shivers of delight.

Oh, the pie is VERY sweet, and VERY gooey.  It's not right for everyone's palate.  I'd suggest cutting small pieces to start and serving it with a high-quality vanilla ice cream to cut the sweetness.

If you like it, feel free to send $43 my way.


Monday, September 27, 2010

Crack ain't whack.

The remains of my "crack" binge.

The remains of Whitney's.

Image Source
Stars.  They're just like us.


Sunday, September 26, 2010

Dear Anthropologie,

Please stop making me wish I enjoyed long walks in an autumn forest or am a spy for MI6.

Thanks. That's all.


You ain't a beauty, but hey you're alright.

My husband is a very unwilling photo taker.  He loves to take copious random, out-of-focus, completely unflattering shots of other people, but getting him to agree to being in front of the camera . . . for hours . . . while a photographer tells him to act like he's in love (with his, ahem, hot wife no less) . . . was a task of Herculean proportions.

If only his idol were to have stumbled into our engagement shoot . . . .

Kella McPhee via Blogness from the Edge of Town

Yeah, these lucky soon-to-be-weds were taking their engagement photos in Jersey when who should just happen to amble by but the Boss himself.*

Who then proceeds to serenade them.

At sunset.

On the beach.

Given the obsession my husband has with all things Springsteen, if this had happened to him, he quite likely would have shoved me into the ocean, whispered sweet nothings into Bruce's ear ("'Cause tramps like us, baby we were born to run."), and proposed marriage to him instead.

Instead, the only mofos who photobombed our engagement shoot were a pack of Chinese tourists, who seemed disgruntled that we were blocking their shots of the John Harvard statue.  (You might not want to get too close to that statue, dude, the drunk kids pee on it.)

Who do you wish would have photobombed your engagement or wedding photos?

* Special thanks to our friend Laura, who taunted us with this story.


Saturday, September 25, 2010

Weekly Roundup: Images That Made Me Happy

I haven't done a roundup in a while, but there was so much gorgeousness in the blogosphere this week I couldn't resist.

Image Source: Elizabeth Messina via StyleMePretty
If I had a bit more panache, I'd wear this hair piece everywhere . . . to the market, the gas station, out to mow the lawn.

Image Source: Elizabeth Messina via StyleMePretty

Or if I can't wear it on my head, then I'll just ask the girls at Saipua to throw together something for our house?

Image Source: Saipua
What a creative, fun way to display a collection of chopsticks!

Image Source: The Kitchn

And while we're in the kitchen, doesn't this salted caramel bread pudding make you drool?

Image Source: bigapplenosh
If bread pudding doesn't motivate you, then how about a chic interior with some great art and a touch of mid-century style?

Image Source: Rue Magazine via SFGirlbyBay
Have an inspiring weekend!


Friday, September 24, 2010

i love typography.

i truly, truly do.

and we love typography does too.


Thursday, September 23, 2010

Rue La La Wedding Sale

Even though we got married over a year ago, I was nonetheless weirdly thrilled to discover that Rue La La is having a wedding-themed sale today.

Image Source

A number of gorgeous Nicole Miller dresses are on steep discount, including this Grecian number, which I will be wearing in the fantasy second wedding in my dreams:

Image Source
(Don't worry, in this fantasy wedding, I'll still be marrying my husband.  Unless he does something to piss me off tonight, in which case I'll be marrying Mark Ruffalo.)

Back to reality.

They also have some gorgeous china patterns on sale, including Lenox's "Chirp," which would be so adorable in the Anthropologie-esque house that Mark Ruffalo and I inhabit in my dreams:

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. . . and "Guilded Tapestry," which looks crazy busy in this photo, but is beautiful in person:

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Click here for an invite to Rue La La if you need one.


Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Petit Coterie

J'adore these French grain sack pillows from Petit Coterie.  So rustic provincial chic.

On sale now at One Kings Lane.


Read Me, Click Me

My husband subscribes to about a billion magazines and journals. The New Yorker, The Economist, Fortune, MacWorld, The New England Journal of Medicine . . . . Our mail bin is over-flowing with all the stuff he subscribes to but rarely gets around to reading.

I've compensated by getting rid of all my subscriptions.  Thank goodness, then, for the recent proliferation of online magazines: now I get all the dish with none of the clutter.  Here are my favorites:

Lonny Magazine: Shelter and design mag from some of the former staff of Domino.

Sweet Paul Magazine: A gorgeously shot and styled food magazine.

Rue Magazine: Brand new collaboration from a number of design bloggers.

Do you read online magazines?  Which are your favorites?


Monday, September 20, 2010

So You Wish You Could Dance

I'm trying to squeeze in a bit more cardio lately with some hip hop classes. When I do hip hop, I look like an uncoordinated hobo having a drunken seizure. In my fantasies, though, my moves would be as smooooooth as these guys'.

Mike Song of Kaba Modern at Boogiezone:

Marty Kudelka's class at Millenium, featuring SYTYCD alum Jason and Ivan:


Sunday, September 19, 2010

Smashing the Fast

Posting has been light this weekend because of Yom Kippur.  Well, actually, because I was too fixated on my adorable niece who was visiting to attend to anything else.  And so I'm a bit late in offering a thank you to those of you who came to my rescue with ideas about what to serve at our mostly vegetarian break the fast party.

Ultimately, we ended up with a full and pretty darn good (if I do say so myself!) buffet:

I hope you had a lovely weekend.  And for our Jewish friends, an easy fast.  L'shana tova.


Thursday, September 16, 2010

A Late-Summer's Night Dream

Forest meets industrial in my dream house.


Tuesday, September 14, 2010

Dear Anthropologie,

If I wanted to look like an alpaca

Icing Age Jacket
or a sasquatch

Irina Cardigan
I wouldn't have bothered shaving.

Thanks.  That's all.


So You Wish You Could Dance

For today's installment of "So You Wish You Could Dance," I am digging into the archives for one of my favorite ballet videos: a music video for Herbert Groenemeyer starring Polina Semionova.  Even though I don't understand a single word of German, I can tell you that the song is uber-cheesy.  But Polina . . . she's breathtaking.

And because I love rehearsal, backstage, and class videos, here's a bonus of Polina rehearsing "La Bayadere" with Vladimir Malakhov.  If you don't watch it for her dancing, watch it for Malakhov's awesome Smurf prison jumpsuit.

Off to sew ribbons on my new pointe shoes that just arrived!


Diary of a Secret Housewife: Rosh Hashanah Honey Cake

This year, we had a fairly low-key celebration of the Jewish New Year, but one thing I do every year, regardless of how many people are coming over for dinner, is make a honey cake.  If you're one of those people who cringe at the thought of a sweet and spicy cake, I'm with you: I'm no big fan of cinnamon (unless it's in the form of a Cinnabon), and I generally dislike cloves, allspice . . . you know, the "apple pie" spices.

But this honey cake is so majestic, so moist that each year I put aside my spice prejudices and make it.  Oh, in fact, it's called "Majestic and Moist New Year's Honey Cake," and it's from Marcy Goldman, who is also responsible for Caramel Chocolate Matzoh Crunch (a.k.a. matzoh crack).

I used Goldman's batter to make cupcake-sized cakes this year, as cupcakes are faster to bake and easier to give away as gifts.  The recipe yields a very liquidy batter, but the result is a cake that is as melt-in-your-mouth on day one as it is on day four.

I served the cupcakes with a little margarine and honey.  They are plenty sweet already, but if you want a sweet new year, you gotta go all out, right?!

Here's the recipe:

  • 3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 4 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1 cup honey
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1/2 cup brown sugar
  • 3 eggs
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 cup warm coffee or strong tea (For a Chewish twist, I used a Vietnamese coffee that my mom brought back for me from Saigon.)
  • 1/2 cup fresh orange juice
  • 1/4 cup rye or whisky 
  • 1/2 cup slivered or sliced almonds 

Goldman recommends using a 9-inch angel food cake pan, but says that you can also make it in a 10-inch tube or bundt cake pan, a 9 by 13-inch sheetpan, or three 8 by 4 1/2-inch loaf pans.  (I used a muffin pan that yields 12 cupcakes.)

Preheat the oven to 350°F.  Lightly grease the pan(s).  For tube and angel food pans, line the bottom with lightly greased parchment paper.  For gift honey cakes, Goldman uses "cake collars" (available from Sweet Celebrations) designed to fit a specific loaf pan. These give the cakes an appealing, professional look.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and spices. Make a well in the center and add the oil, honey, sugars, eggs, vanilla, coffee, orange juice, and rye or whisky.

Using a strong wire whisk or an electric mixer on slow speed, combine the ingredients well to make a thick batter, making sure that no ingredients are stuck to the bottom of the bowl.

Spoon the batter into the prepared pan(s) and sprinkle the top of the cake(s) evenly with the almonds. Place the cake pan(s) on 2 baking sheets stacked together and bake until the cake springs back when you touch it gently in the center. For angel and tube cake pans, bake for 60 to 70 minutes; loaf cakes, 45 to 55 minutes. For sheet-style cakes, the baking time is 40 to 45 minutes. This is a liquidy batter and, depending on your oven, it may need extra time. Cake should spring back when gently pressed.

Let the cake stand for 15 minutes before removing it from the pan. Then invert it onto a wire rack to cool completely.

Note: If you prefer not to use the whisky, replace it with orange juice or coffee.

Chewish or not, make this cake.  You'll love it. A belated l'shana tova to all!


Sunday, September 12, 2010

Funny (strange) or funny (ha ha)?

The line between quirky and wackadoodle is sometimes blurry . . .


Quirks by Jellyby on Polyvore.com

Some of these things make me laugh.  Some are awesome (Eames elephant!).  And some leave me horrified.  But somewhere out there, someone is proudly displaying these crazy misfits in their home.  That sort of makes me happy, you know?


Friday, September 10, 2010

Anthropologie comes to Harvard Square!

My mothership has landed.  And thank goodness it waited to arrive until after I left grad school, or else I would have been even more broke and less productive.

Want a tour?


I thought the Mad Hatter's tea party set-up here was so charming.  Love the books and lamps on the ceiling!

This little boat installation is an homage to the site, which is not only near the Charles River, but was more importantly once the home of Design Research, a store that brought Scandinavian and modern design to the masses in the 50's.  DR was the first to introduce Marimekko to the States, and you can see little snippets of Marimekko fabrics in the boat's mast.

This is what the Design Research store looked like back in the day.  Gorgeous, right?

I adored this vignette on the upper floor of the five-level store (yes - five levels, like the Philly flagship!).  The vintage Polaroid camera is tres sexy.

Unfortunately, my visit coincided with the arrival of the first-years on campus; a bazillion giggly, half-naked 18-year-olds and their parents descended upon the store, and I had no choice but to beat a hasty retreat to the safety of my car.  But I saw enough to convince me that this might be my new favorite Anthro locale, even if going near Harvard makes me break out into hives.


Thursday, September 9, 2010

Brimfield Reality

Sigh.  I went all the way to Brimfield, and all I got were these photos:

Alvin, Simon, and Theodore.  Winnie the Pooh's head in the right background
Depression glass.  So named because their prices made me depressed.
Vintage Nancy Drew and Hardy Boys books.
Shelves full of jadeite and milk glass.
Vintage Polaroid set, complete with camera, film, and carrying case.

Old chemistry paraphernalia.  Or a retro meth lab.
Bookends galore.

Spice, coffee, tea, and candy tins.

Vintage food wrappers and packaging.

A friend and I arrived at Brimfield at noon, which is fairly late by antiquing standards: from the accounts I've read of the Brimfield experience, the big-time buyers -- sourcers for major antique stores, decorators and stylists, et al. -- are in line before the fields even open.  Armed with a big ol' bundle of cash, they tornado through the 5000+ dealers, buying anything and everything great, until they have trailers full of stuff.

We, on the other hand, were left with the dredges and the goodies we couldn't afford (why, oh why, were a gorgeous set of brass penguin bookends $250??).

This is my second time at Brimfield, and while it's a lovely way of spending an afternoon -- lots of sun, kooky people, erudite and passionate vendors/collectors, and food (kettle corn!) -- I think I have to acknowledge that my eye is not sharp enough nor my purse deep enough to really do well at an antique fair.

Oh well, at least the chipmunks and I had a moment.

Have you ever been out to Brimfield or a similar antique show?  Did you have any success finding bargains?

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