By Catherine Hill

For refrigerator style pies like our French Chocolate Silk Pie we Hills like using a crust made from Graham cracker crumb and filberts (hazelnuts) and like everything, we like it homemade. But if all you have time for is a store-bought crust it’s okay by us.  I buy store bought cookie crust all the time and I won’t apologize for it. In fact, I have found that there’re some nice gluten free crusts out there too.  To that end, I have included a few tweaks to this recipe to make it gluten-free as well. The basic idea I hope to teach you here is how to make a crust that will hold up to cutting and serving.  

Before I was a Hill I was a Miller.  I have very few recipes, which go even one generation back, but this one is an old Betty that has come down the generations. Though I have put my own spin on it. I have named this post Miller’s French Chocolate Silk Pie Crust not because it is the same recipe grandmother made, but because it is that side of the family, which fed it to me.

My aunt told me that the way her mother made it and the way she still makes it is with all or mostly filbert nuts, which in Oregon are just spectacular. I could never afford that and never got the recipe. So as an adult I have, to the best of my ability, made a close stand in.

COST BREAKDOWN

Cost in full: Graham crackers $3.00 and you will use half of the box or a little more $1.50, Nuts in bulk $2.00, sugar $3.00 a 4 lb. bag in which we use ½ cup making it $0.19, and butter $4.00 but you will need less than a 1 stick $0.80, Captain Morgan Spiced Rum LTR $20.00 and we need only 1 tablespoon making it $0.30= $4.79

Cost preserving: $0.30-$0.40

For your shopping list, you will be spending about $32.00 to get all of what you will need. Good news is that you’ll have enough for a second batch if you add a second bag of nuts to your list.

If you need to cut costs don’t worry. I’ve got you! I can make the shopping trip less than 1/3 the cost and the pie crust per serving half the cost.  I do this by substituting margarine for the butter, for the nuts I would substitute breadcrumb or more Graham cracker crumb and substitute the booze with water. Which will make your shopping trip only $7.00!

With these substitutions, a pie crust might have a cost breakdown similar to this: Graham crackers $3.00 and you will use 2/3 of the box or a little more $2.00, sugar $3.00 a 4 lb. bag in which we use ½ cup making it $0.19, and margarine 1bl $1.00 but you will need less than a 1 stick $0.22= $2.41

Cost preserving: $0.15-$0.20

Note on cost estimates:

I’ve based my estimates on prices at my local urban supermarket in January 2017. The cost will change by region and type of store and with inflation. Please consider this when looking at my estimate and planning your shopping trip budget. The actual cost, of course, depending on what you use as for the cookie crumb and for crouched nuts and the time of year.

DIFFICULTY LEVEL

Is this going to be super hard? It is easy with a touch of practice and attentiveness.

KEEPING

Freezing: Yes if wrapped in plastic and foil and in a freezer bag.

Time: Best used within two days. Keeps 3 weeks in the refrigerator, but you may need to give it a toast in the oven to revive it and get rid of any stale flavor. Will keep well up to 6 months in the freezer. Therefore, like pastry pie crusts, this cookie and nut based pie crust is a good Saturday afternoon batch bake project. I do a few double recipes every so often to stock up my freezer and have for a later date. I am not one to always have these on hand I do think it is a special occasion thing. If there is not a home made one in my freezer, however, I will have a store-bought one in the pantry just in case I need it for a quick potluck thing.

SERVINGS

Serves: 12-16

TIME

Prep time: <8 minutes
Cooking time: <20 minutes
Refrigeration time: 10 minutes

Total time to make: 38 minutes
Cleanup time: 5 minutes

THE HARDWARE AND ACCOUTERMENTS

1-2  8, 9 or ½ 10-12 inch pie tin(s) or glass or cake pan(s).

Standard food processor, or stand blender or a hammer and beg

Mixing bowl

Small bowl

Wooden spoon

Measuring cup set

Measuring spoon set

THE INGREDIENTS

1 1/4 cup compressed Graham crackers or wafer cookie crumb*

½ cup finely diced nuts (I like hazelnuts but will go with what’s on sale)*

½ c sugar

6 Tbs. of melted unsalted or low sodium butter *

1 Tbs. Rum*

SUBSTITUTIONS*

For gluten-free: Use gluten-free Graham crackers or substitute nuts for the crumb.

For diced nuts: More cookie crumb or dry or fresh breadcrumb will be a fine filler.

For butter: Use lard, margarine, or shortening or a mixture of these. Coconut oil does not work the best on its own in this recipe, so if you get a clever wild hair just restrain yourself please… Trust me.

For Rum: Use just about any booze or liquid you’d have on hand. Don’t use gin, tequila, wine and the alike. Remember there is always good old water, and water is mostly free. If you decide to use milk it will make for a browner crust.

THE STEP BY STEP

  1. Preheat oven to 350. Measure out your dry ingredients.
  2. Cut butter into tablespoons using the measurements on the package and cut just a little more than you will need so that you have 6 and 1/4 tablespoons.
  3. In the small bowl melt butter in microwave for 30-50 seconds.
  4. Put Graham crackers in food processor or blender and pulse on medium 5-10 times. If you don’t blender or food processor, first break up the crackers as much as you can by hand and place in a thick plastic freezer bag. After that use a large tin can or a rolling pin to crush the crackers. Be careful to check that the bag did not break during your Hulk smashing. Look though the crumbs for plastic bits from your bag before you move to the next step.
  5. Remove the crumb and measure a tightly packed cup and ¼ of crumb
  6. Put measured crumb back in food processor or blender. If you are sans technology use a large bowl and clean hands or a potato masher.
  7. Add melted butter using a tablespoon measure to make sure to have and accurate amount of butter.
  8. Add sugar and rum.
  9. Mix all ingredients in a food processor or blender using pulses, and stir once or twice to make mixture consistent.
  10. Blend until mixture texture is fine and mixed well.
  11. Place all of the mixture in a tin.
  12. Smooth to evenly coat the bottom and side surfaces. If this is proving to be difficult spread the mixture evenly and put a little extra near the edges. Then using an identical tin press down on the crust mixture. The pressures will even it out. For this trick I using solidly constructed sloped-sided pie tins, and not cake pans with straight sides, nor do I use flimsy aluminum disposable pie tins. I personally like the rigidity and the way they nest when slopped-sided. The straight sides, from a cake pan or a tart pan, will make it so the top tin can’t help to build the crust’s sides. So if you have only two cake pans at you disposal, have no fear. This trick will still be helpful and save time. Start by putting a good helping of the mixture in the bottom of the first pan and use the top pan to make a flat bottom first. Then with your hands build the sides.
  13. Bake at 325 for 15-20 minutes but keep your eye on it at all times for doneness. It should be dry to touch and smell toasty. If you are using traditional Graham cracker or wafer cookies the color will have become way more golden. If you are a rebel and using chocolate cookies or flavored Graham crackers it may be difficult to notice any change in color.
  14. Refrigerate pie crust for 10 minutes uncovered or cool on rack for 20 minutes.

Use suggestions:

Put something yummy in it! I suggest my [French Chocolate Silk Pie] or fruit and [Mothers Cream] for fillings.

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