For Nathan’s birthday weekend, I wanted to make him a treat we have been dreaming about for a while. My sister and I made it last year for Thanksgiving (there were no leftovers the next day) after having tried it for the first time at the Milk Bar location in Las Vegas the year before. It’s a genius recipe combining an oatmeal cookie crust (I am a sucker for a cookie crust) with a brown sugar custard-y, caramel-y filling. As someone whose favorite part of chocolate chip cookies is the dough, and specifically, the pre-dough when it’s just brown sugar and butter, this pie speaks to me. This is a dish best served cold and it is recommended to prepare the day before or up to two days before serving. In the Milk Bar cookbook, pastry chef Christina Tosi instructs you to make oatmeal cookies just to crumble them up for the crust, but I really like the Bon Apétit adaptation of simply making the dough and spreading it out on a piece of parchment to bake, then to crumble. While this pie is completely worth the extra step of making a cookie just to destroy it in the name of crust, I like the smart shortcut. Also, the recipe calls for old-fashioned oats, but all I had was instant, and mine turned out better than fine. Lastly, instead of the recommended dusting of powdered sugar, I opted for a more festive May birthday confetti of violets plucked from the lawn.
Adapted from Momofuku Milk Bar: A Cookbook and Bon Apétit
Oat Cookie Crust
9 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature and divided
5 1/2 tablespoons brown sugar, packed and divided
2 tablespoons sugar
1 large egg
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons old-fashioned oats
1/2 cup flour
1/8 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon baking soda
1/4 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1 tablespoon nonfat dry milk powder
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted
6 1/2 teaspoons heavy whipping cream
4 large egg yolks
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Preheat your oven to 350°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Combine 6 tablespoons butter, 4 tablespoons of brown sugar, and sugar in a mixing bowl. With an electric mixer, beat until light and fluffy. Scrape down the sides of the bowl with a rubber spatula and add the egg, beating until pale and fluffy.
Next, add the dry ingredients: oats, flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt and beat until well-blended. Turn this mixture onto the parchment and spread evenly with your rubber spatula. Bake until lightly golden, 18-20 minutes. Allow to cool completely.
Once cooled, crumble the oat cookie into a large bowl. Add the remaining 3 tablespoons of butter and remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons brown sugar and mix with your hands until well-incorporated and holding together. Press the mixture into a glass 9” diameter pie dish taking care to press up the sides. Place pie dish on a baking sheet.
Center the oven rack and preheat to 350°F. To make the filling, whisk the sugars, milk powder and salt in a bowl to blend. Pour in the melted butter and whisk until blended. Add in the cream, egg yolks and vanilla, whisking after each addition. Once blended, pour filling into the crust. Bake for 30 minutes then reduce oven temperature to 325°F and bake about 20 minutes longer. Watch for the pie to brown slightly around the outer ring, but the center should still move slightly when shaken. Remove from oven, cool, then chill overnight before serving.