Photos and illustrations via CakeSpy
A cookie crumb pie crust is an easy alternative to a traditional pie crust. A simple concoction made using finely crushed cookies, which add a pleasing texture — not to mention a delicious taste — to all sorts of pies. They are particularly popular when paired with cream or custard fillings.
Here’s a primer on the hows and whys of this delicious baking base. Then, a recipe follows.
What is a cookie crust?
It’s a simple pie or pastry crust made with finely crushed cookies. Sometimes they include sugar for added sweetness, or melted butter, which acts as a binder to hold the crumbs together.
Why make a cookie crust?
There are a few good reasons to use a cookie crust. One is flavor: the cookies will impart a pleasing flavor that will complement many pie fillings. Another is texture. Some smooth and creamy fillings will benefit from the light crunch of cookie crumbs, which will add a pleasant contrast.
The texture isn’t only pleasant in terms of taste, though. It is also good for the keeping quality of certain pies. Certain pie fillings (especially cream or curd based ones) can make a typical butter crust soggy rather rapidly, even if it is prebaked. The cookie crust will retain a crunch much longer.
Famous examples of cookie crust
Some treats are famous for their frequent use of a cookie crust. Examples include the Key lime pie, which is noted for its graham-cracker crust. Grasshopper pie often uses a crushed chocolate-mint-wafer crust, and cheesecake, which while not a pie, employs a cookie crust more often than not.
Although not traditional, a pie such as lemon meringue also tastes great with a cookie crust.
Do I need to pre-bake a cookie crust?
You may see that some cookie crust recipes call for a short baking time, others do not. The short bake time is not necessary to the crust’s success, but it does assist with the texture and with firming it up.
What types of cookies work best?
Crisp, crunchy cookies tend to work best. For instance, vanilla or chocolate wafer cookies, or graham crackers. Shortbread cookies work well, too, but are so buttery that you may not even need to add melted butter to the mix.
What types of cookies don’t work?
While soft, gooey or chewy cookies are extremely delicious, they don’t tend to crumble quite the same as crisp cookies, and might not yield the desired texture to a crust.
What’s the best way to crush the cookies?
You can easily and quickly crush cookies in a food processor or a blender with a food processing setting.
Don’t have a food processor? You can also put the cookies in a sturdy, sealable kitchen bag, and use a heavy, rounded or flat object to crush the cookies. For instance, the bottom of a jar or a cup works nicely, as does a rolling pin. Just don’t get overzealous, or you might break the bag!
How finely chopped do the crumbs need to be?
Fairly fine. For example, you’d want the texture of almond meal, versus chopped almonds. It should be thicker than a powder, but you shouldn’t see chunks.
What if I crumbled too many cookies and have extra crumbs?
As problems go, it’s not such a bad one. You can save extra crumbs in a jar and use them to top ice cream or puddings. Or, use them to line the pan next time you’re baking a cake — it will help them from sticking to the pan and add a little flavor while you’re at it.
Ready to make a cookie crumb pie crust?
Here’s a simple recipe that allows for a lot of freedom on the baker’s part. You can choose the type of cookies that suit you or the recipe you’re making, and sweeten to taste if desired.
If you’re using extremely buttery cookies, such as shortbread, you may not need all of the butter. You can add the butter gradually if you are unsure, mixing in only enough to give the crust your desired consistency.
Also, the sugar is added to taste. You may not need it at all, depending on the flavor of the cookies you’re using.
Cookie crumb pie crust
Makes one 9-inch cookie crumb pie crust
- 2 cups finely crumbed cookies (measurement after crumbling, not before)
- ½ stick butter, melted
- Up to ¼ cup sugar (optional)
STEP 1: Preheat your oven to 350 degrees F.
STEP 2: In a food processor or by hand, finely crush your cookie crumbs.
STEP 3: Place the cookie crumbs in a large bowl. Add the melted butter, and stir until completely incorporated. The mixture will turn more solid, as though if you made it into a clump with your hands, it would mostly stay together with a few crumbs crumbling off.
If desired, add sugar to taste. Stir until combined.
STEP 4: Transfer the mixture to a greased pie plate.
Press the mixture evenly into the bottom and up the sides of the pan, using either a rubber spatula or impeccably clean hands.
STEP 5: Once the crumbs have been pressed firmly into place, bake the crust in the preheated oven for 8 to 10 minutes, or until warm, fragrant and lightly toasty.
Let the crust cool completely before filling.
This crust can be stored, well wrapped, in the freezer for up to 1 month.