I have a lot of strong beliefs. Here are some:
1) The Indianapolis Colts will rise again.
2) Taking time for yourself is not an act of selfishness, but of necessity.
3) Cakey brownies are a crime against humanity.
4) A lot of brides need to stop wearing strapless gowns. Other silhouettes rock!
5) Trying to sleep in my class is an act of disrespect.
6) Hope springs eternal as long as you’re getting enough sleep.
Oh, and here’s another for you: graham cracker crust needs to be tricked out!
What do I mean by that? I’m so glad you asked!
I used to be one of those poor souls who bought ready-made graham cracker crusts at the grocery store. I was laboring under a terrible misconception that pie crust in general can be tricky, and so therefore graham cracker crust must be the same. Um, wrong!
It’s so easy to make graham cracker crust. It takes a couple of minutes to assemble and a few minutes more to bake. And if you make my tricked-out version, which includes white chocolate and brown sugar, you’ll never think about graham cracker crust the same way again. Here’s how!
The process begins with your favorite microwave-safe bowl. In the bowl, you place 1/3 cup unsalted butter (or margarine if you’re aiming for a non-dairy crust) and 1/2 cup white chocolate chips.
Here’s the vital part: do not overheat the white chocolate. If you do, it will seize up and become impossible to work with. So microwave in 30-second intervals, stirring after each interval until the mixture is smooth. I typically do that twice, so one minute total.
Once the butter and chocolate are mixed, you add 1/3 cup firmly packed light brown sugar and 1 cup graham cracker crumbs. The brown sugar gives your crust a moister base, and when it bakes up the crust will taste caramelized, kind of like the best graham cracker in the history of the world.
You mix the brown sugar and crumbs in until all the crumbs are moist. That’s essential, because if any crumbs are dry, the crust will crumble like mad. You want it to stand firm!
Press the mixture into a pie plate. I like to use a really big 10-inch monster, but not everyone likes that. Your goal is to press the crumbs evenly along the bottom and up the sides. Once that’s finished, you can bake it. Alternatively, this crust could form the base of a cheesecake in a springform pan.
Preheat the oven to 350 and then bake the crust for 10 minutes. You want it to set without going too far unless you’re using a no-bake recipe, since the crust will get a second oven treatment as soon as you add whatever filling you’re using. If you’re not baking it again, let it sit in the oven for another 5-10 minutes. When you remove the crust from the oven, you should test it lightly to make sure that crumbs are not coming off.
And then you’re ready to fill the crust! I’ll share my filling with you in my next post, but some of the more popular choices are citrus-based pie fillings, like key lime or lemon (click on the links to see my recipes!), or even a cheesecake filling works great, like in this cheesepake (no, not a typo) I made.
Don’t fear making homemade crust any more. It’s so much better than the store kind, and your taste buds will thank you!