Recipe Review: Momofuku Blondie Pie, Pumpkin Ganache

Christina Tosi writes in the Momofuku Milk Bar cookbook that her favorite, favorite, favorite pie that they make at Momofuku Milk Bar is the Blondie Pie finished with Pumpkin Ganache.  With an endorsement like that, this pie was high on my to-do list, but the degree of difficulty was much higher than with previous recipes.  Graham Crust was easy – I had made it before with Brownie Pie, Carrot Layer Cake, Compost Cookies, and Graham Ice Cream.  The challenge was two of the Mother Recipes in the book: Nut Brittle and Ganache.

Cashew Nut Brittle requires only two ingredients: sugar and cashews.  The sugar is made into a dry caramel, the nuts are folded in, then the brittle hardens, and finally the brittle is broken into chunks with a rolling pin.  Sounds pretty easy, but caramels are often tricky to make and a lot can go wrong.  Initially, I made the caramel in a “non-stick” pot.  However, the heat of the caramel melted away the non-stick coating from the bottom of the pot, which got incorporated as little black streaks in the brittle that I had to throw out.  I tried again with a stainless steel pot, which worked much better.  The brittle hardens right away on a Silpat but lifts away easily after hardening, because nothing can stick to a Silpat!  Cleaning up the pot with stuck-on caramel required boiling some water in the pot to dissolve the caramel and using a knife to chip away the hardened caramel from the edges of the pot.

Half of the brittle is folded into the Blondie Pie Filling, which is white chocolate, butter, flour, salt, sugar, and egg yolks.  The filling is put into a Graham Crust-lined pie plate and baked for 30 minutes.  Meanwhile, the other half of the cashew brittle is mixed with a little grapeseed oil and blended to make a powdery, crunchy praline that tops the pie.

The Pumpkin Ganache is a mix of butter, white chocolate, glucose, and heavy cream.  Then pumpkin puree, cinammon, and salt are mixed in.  The recipe calls for using a hand blender to mix the different components at each step, but I did not have one.  I tried to use a stand mixer and ended up with a mess of different liquids and solids that had not fully bonded together.  I saved it by pulsing the final mixture in a regular blender that yielded the smooth, glossy ganache described in the book.  Whew!

The final pie is really good.  The crunchy bits of Cashew Brittle in the Blondie Pie filling and the Cashew Praline on top make the pie decadently sweet, and the cinnamon-spiced Pumpkin Ganache elevates the pie even further.  One can definitely taste and see why this is Chef Tosi’s favorite.

Recipe Review: Momofuku Graham Ice Cream

Momofuku Noodle Bar and Milk Bar serve many creative flavors of soft serve.  I once had the delicious Olive Oil and Pickled Cherry Twist, which was served with crushed saltines, Ritz crackers, and chopped dried apricots on the bottom.  The Momofuku Milk Bar cookbook contains several of Christina Tosi’s interesting, non-traditional ice cream recipes, including Pretzel Ice Cream, Red Velvet Ice Cream, Cereal Milk Ice Cream, and Graham Ice Cream that are based on the Mother Recipes in the book.  I decided to tackle the Graham Ice Cream, which conveniently utilizes a 1/4 recipe of Graham Crust (I used the other 3/4 for Brownie Pie.)

Graham crackers are made with graham flour, a type of whole wheat flour that gives graham crackers their distinctive taste and texture.  The three components of the wheat grain (endosperm, bran, and germ) are ground separately.  The endosperm, from which white flour is made, is finely ground, the bran and germ are coarsely ground, and then all three are combined together.  The graham cracker was invented by a Presbyterian Minister named Sylvester Graham in 1829 to encourage healthy eating with whole grains.  However, modern supermarket graham crackers are typically made with a combination of refined wheat flour and graham flour.  Thanks Wikipedia!

The ice cream graham flavor is achieved by steeping baked Graham Crust in milk, similar to the technique for making Cereal Milk.  The graham-infused milk is mixed with liquid glucose, sugar, salt, heavy cream, milk powder, and bloomed gelatin.  The ice cream base is definitely non-traditional as there are no egg yolks.  Instead, gelatin is used as a thickener and stabilizer.  The thick liquid glucose makes it a little difficult to whisk the mixture into a smooth ice cream base.  Once mixed, the ice cream base is spun in an ice cream maker and frozen.

I liked the Graham Ice Cream, which has sweet graham flavor and goes well with the Momofuku Fudge Sauce and Chocolate Crumb.

Recipe Review: Momofuku Brownie Pie, Graham Crust, Fudge Sauce, Chocolate Crumb

Nice Brownie Pie recipe from Momofuku Milk Bar cookbook.  The soft brownie pie filling is intensely chocolate, with 72% chocolate and Valrhona cocoa powder.  Crunchy graham crust is great.  The book suggests using Fudge Sauce and Chocolate Crumb for a fancier presentation, but they are not absolutely necessary.  The Fudge Sauce is pretty easy and uses the same 72% chocolate and cocoa powder as in the Brownie Pie, and I had some left-over Chocolate Crumb, both of which provide a contrasting texture of chocolate.  All sub-recipes are pretty straightforward.  A stand mixer is the only required equipment, but a blender is also useful to make crumbs out of graham crackers for the crust.  So…much…delicious…chocolate…

Link to recipe here.

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