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Pie times with Oreos and Stuf

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Chocolate and pumpkin pie make a special combination. And Oreo is a special kind of chocolate. It has an almost burnt, sugary charcoal flavor that adds lovely bass notes to the pie spices. Since I love pumpkin pie, but am weary of making crust, messing around with Oreo crusted pumpkin pie is one of my favorite Thanksgiving pastimes.

There is an elegance to a crust that you can make with ingredients from a gas station convenience store. And while premade Oreo crusts are commonly available, I prefer making mine the old fashioned way: from scratch, with whole Oreo cookies fresh from the package.

The white stuff — aka Stuf — between the cookies fulfills a valuable function. When it’s heated the Stuf melts, which helps oil the pan. When it cools, the Stuf, having permeated the crust, helps hold it together.

The most common way to make an Oreo crust is to atomize some Oreos in a blender and then use the powder to form a crust that looks a lot like the kind you buy premade in a grocery store. The primary advantage to doing it at home is that you can make more than you need for the base of the pie, and use the excess on top. This results in a sort of pie-sized meta-Oreo, where the chocolate powder on top and bottom fuse together to form large cookies, and the pie filling in the middle plays the part of a thick, orange layer of Stuf.

A more interesting alternative is to employ whole Oreos, pulled in half. This results in a pie that appears covered in chocolate coins, including on top if you choose. Here again, the Stuf oils the pan, preventing the crust from sticking.

And for lazy crust-makers like myself, one of the best parts of making an Oreo-crusted pumpkin pie is that it won’t require a rolling pin, or dust your kitchen with flour.

Whole Oreo-crusted Pumpkin Pie

If you have your own pie-filling recipe, feel free to use that one instead of mine. Just remember: when you make a pumpkin pie with an Oreo crust, you should reduce the sweetness of the filling, as the Oreos have so much sugar.

(Makes 1 pie)

Ingredients:

1 package Oreos — about 36 cookies

1 15-ounce can pumpkin (or 2 cups of baked winter squash flesh)

2 eggs

1/2 cup sugar

1 12-oz can of evaporated milk

½ teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon pie spices

1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

Whole Cookie Crust

Preheat the oven to 425.

Oil or butter a pie pan. Pull apart the Oreos, one at a time, and use the Stuf to stick the cookies to the inside of the pie pan, including the rim and bottom. Put six to eight cookies in a blender and pulverize them to fill in the gaps between the round cookies. Put the unfilled crust in the oven for five minutes, and then remove.

Combine the remaining ingredients — the pie filling — and beat until thoroughly smooth. Pour the filling into the crust. Bake for 15 minutes at 425. Then reduce the heat to 350 and bake another 30 minutes. Pull apart four more Oreos. At this point it should be firm enough to lay some half-cookies on top, for decoration. Bake another 15 minutes. Remove from the oven. Allow to cool for 30 minutes, and then run a knife or spatula around the edge to make sure it doesn’t stick. Cool for another 90 minutes before serving.

Crumble Crust

Preheat the oven to 425.

Reserve six Oreos, for garnish or emergencies, and blend the rest in a blender until smooth. Pour half of the resulting Oreo dust into a pie pan, and put it in the hot oven for five minutes. Remove the pan and carefully push the crumbled Oreo into the bottom and up the edges, as evenly as you can. Use the back of the spoon to press and burnish it.

Crack two eggs in a bowl without breaking the yolks. Carefully spoon out a tablespoon of white and dump it into the Oreo pie crust. Use your fingers or a brush to gently spread the egg white all over the crust, and put it back in the oven for seven minutes.

Mix the remaining pie filling, and pour it into your Oreo crust. Sprinkle the remaining Oreo dust on top. You can go with a token amount for color, or layer it on as thick on top as it is on the bottom. A thick top crust results in a pie that looks like a hockey puck on the outside, while inside hides a bright creamy pumpkin filling.

Cover the pie with foil and bake for 15 minutes. Lower the oven to 350 and remove the foil. Bake for another 45 minutes. Remove the pie and allow it to cool for two hours.

Waiting for it to cool might just be the hardest part of making this pie. But the crust, at least, was easy.

Ari LeVaux writes Flash in the Pan, a syndicated weekly food column carried in more than 60 newspapers nationwide. Though his audience is national, he says he “always writes about Montana. Usually.”

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