5 Ingredients or Fewer

Pie Crispies

February 22, 2019
15 Ratings
Photo by Rocky Luten
Author Notes

When it comes to pie, I always save the crust for last. Which is to say: It’s my favorite part. Don’t get me wrong—I love cinnamon-sugared apples, pumpkin custard, lemon curd, really whatever you can turn into pie. But the crust is so buttery and flaky and sugar-crusted and croissant-like, sometimes I could skip the filling altogether.

Hey. That’s an idea.

We just have to rewind back a couple of months first. I was developing a recipe for pie dough—made from start to finish in a stand mixer. During initial tests, I baked a lot of pie dough samples, or cut-out circles, brushed with egg, sprinkled with sugar, and baked until crispy. “Pie crispies,” I called them. These taught me a lot about the dough (you know, without having to make a whole pie). They also taught me that pie crust needs no costar—that it can shine all on its own.

A couple of the biggest dessert books from last year came to the same conclusion. In Sister Pie, Lisa Ludwinski has a recipe for pie cookies—2-inch rounds, sandwiched like whoopie pies with buttercream or chocolate ganache. And in Genius Desserts, Food52’s Kristen Miglore writes about Jeni Britton Bauer’s “Piekies”—2 ½ to 3-inch rounds, made from pâte sucrée (a French, shortbread-y tart crust), with fresh fruit baked on top.

Besides the egg (for color) and sugar (for crunch), my own recipe has no flourishes. It is pie crust, and only pie crust. Of course, you could sprinkle the crispies on yogurt (bonus points for a jam swirl) or ice cream (highly recommend pie-esque flavors, like pumpkin) or chocolate mousse. And you could sandwich them with chocolate ganache or Nutella or caramel or a combo of any jam and crème fraîche. But know that you could eat one or two or nine, just as they are, with a hot cup of milky coffee or tea, and your day will be so much better.

This recipe has a few more steps than the Stand Mixer Pie Dough it was based on (feel free to swap in your go-to pie dough recipe and adapt the method accordingly)—dreamed up in the test kitchen by our stylist Anna Billingskog, who reminded me that a few extra folds and rests in the fridge or freezer go a loooong way when it comes to those flaky layers. And when you’re only eating pie crust, doesn’t every layer count?

The last extra step is to our advantage: After cutting the pie dough into rounds (you can also use a pizza wheel to yield squares—no scraps left behind), you pop these in the freezer until firm. Then, you could bake them right away. Or you could collect them in a container or plastic bag, and have ready-to-bake pie crispies for whenever a craving strikes. This happens a lot. —Emma Laperruque

  • Prep time 2 hours
  • Cook time 30 minutes
  • Makes about 32 cookies
Ingredients
  • 12 tablespoons (1 ½ sticks) unsalted butter, very cold
  • 1 1/2 cups (192 grams) all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus a tiny pinch
  • 1/4 cup very cold water, plus more as needed
  • 1 large egg
  • 3 tablespoons turbinado sugar, plus more as needed
In This Recipe
Directions
  1. Cut the butter into pieces—aim for 10 from the full-stick and 5 from the half-stick (so each one is slightly smaller than 1 tablespoon). Put the cut-up butter in the freezer for a few minutes, while you work on the dry ingredients.
  2. Combine the flour, sugar, and salt in the bowl of a stand mixer, fitted with a paddle attachment. Mix for a few seconds, just to combine, then turn off.
  3. Add the butter pieces to the dry ingredients. Mix on the lowest setting possible for 5 to 10 seconds—in short bursts if necessary, so the flour doesn’t fly out of the bowl—then turn off. Err on the side of undermixing at this step. You want each butter piece to be coated in flour and slightly bashed by the paddle, but most of the pieces should be barely smaller than when you started.
  4. Turn on the mixer to the lowest setting possible, slowly pour in the 1/4 cup very cold water. Once it’s all in, let the mixer run for a couple more seconds, then turn off and check in with the dough. The end goal is a very shaggy dough that holds together when squeezed, with some dough starting to grab onto the paddle attachment, and a few flour streaks on the side of the bowl. If the dough is still quite powdery and dry in some places and the sides of the bowl are still flour-coated, continue to mix while adding another tablespoon of water, and letting that incorporate for a couple seconds. (Repeat with more water—but only a very small amount!—if needed.)
  5. Use your hands to gather the dough into a mass and dump onto a piece of plastic wrap. Use the plastic wrap to form the dough into a ball, then smush into a disc with your hands, so the plastic wrap is extremely snug. (You can wrap with another piece of plastic wrap for extra insurance, which I always like to.)
  6. Refrigerate the dough for 30 minutes.
  7. Lightly flour a work surface. Unwrap the dough, but save the plastic wrap—we’re reusing it in just a second. Roll the dough into a 12-inch circle. (I like to do this by rolling the pin back and forth, then rotating the dough about 45 degrees, over and over.) Fold in half. Fold in half again. Fold in half again. Rewrap in plastic, pressing down on the dough so it’s a cohesive, roundish disc. Get back in the fridge for at least another hour or up to 2 days. You can also freeze it at this point for up to 1 month.
  8. When you’re ready to bake the cookies, crack the egg into a small bowl. Add the tiniest pinch of salt. Beat with a fork until totally smooth.
  9. Lightly flour a work surface. Add the unwrapped dough and lightly sprinkle with flour. Gently hit the dough with a rolling pin a few times to slightly flatten. Roll into a 12-inch circle, or until the dough is about ¼- to ⅓-inch thick (err on the side of thicker versus thinner).
  10. Use a 1 1/2–inch biscuit cutter to cut the dough into circles. (You can save the scraps for something else—or turn them into randomly-shaped pie crispies!) Add to one or two plates, which will go in the freezer. (Note: You can also use a pizza wheel or knife to cut the dough into equally small squares—this means you won’t have any leftover scraps.)
  11. Freeze the pie dough rounds (or squares) for about 30 minutes, or until pretty firm. Meanwhile, heat the oven to 350°F. Line two sheet pans with silicone mats or parchment. (Make sure the sheet pans aren’t sitting on top of the oven, which can warm them and compromise how the cookies bake.)
  12. Add the frozen pie dough rounds (or squares) to the lined sheet pans. Brush the pie dough with the egg wash, taking care to not let it slop over the sides (which can prevent the dough from rising properly). Sprinkle generously with raw sugar. And try to do both of these steps as quickly as possible!
  13. Bake the cookies for 25 to 30 minutes—rotating the sheet trays top to bottom and front to back halfway through—until they’re golden brown.
  14. Let cool completely before serving.

See what other Food52ers are saying.

  • Sally Curry
    Sally Curry
  • Susanna
    Susanna
  • Alice Kruse
    Alice Kruse
  • Erin Alexander
    Erin Alexander
  • Emma Laperruque
    Emma Laperruque
Emma is the food editor at Food52. Before this, she worked a lot of odd jobs, all at the same time. Think: stir-frying noodles on the fly, baking dozens of pastries at 3 a.m., and writing about the history of pie in North Carolina. Now she lives in New Jersey with her husband and their cat, Butter. Stay tuned every Tuesday for Emma's award-winning column, Big Little Recipes (also the cookbook in October 2021!). And see what she's up to on Instagram at @emmalaperruque.

24 Reviews

wildmoonsister July 9, 2021
Two things: I once ate at a restaurant that had as the 'free table bread' 3" squares of plain thick piecrust that had been deep-fried rather than baked. It was FABULOUS and indulgent.
Also: whether baking or frying, try this: eliminate the sugar, add instead a tablespoon of raw sesame seeds to the batter before rolling it out. It lends a depth of flavor that is a whole new dimension, and in regular pies, the flavor is not dissonant with any pie-filling, from mince to apple to pumpkin.
 
Gammy November 25, 2020
Thanks Emma for putting a big smile on my face this morning and taking me back 60 years! My mom would use up those piecrust scrapes to make "cookies" with a dab of jam in the middle. We kids would fight over them to get the largest one. They always disappeared in a heartbeat!
 
Author Comment
Emma L. November 25, 2020
Mmmm! Jam sounds so good—glad you're enjoying, Gammy!
 
Alicia September 20, 2019
Stop. All pie bakers make these. We use the scraps, like my mother did, as she called them "stickies".
 
gkinnaird April 13, 2019
I would love to know if an even swap of all purpose gluten free flour is possible .
 
Author Comment
Emma L. April 15, 2019
Hi! I haven't tried this recipe with an all-purpose gluten-free flour—but if you give it a try, please let me know how it goes!
 
Christine B. August 30, 2019
I haven't tried it yet either, however I've had excellent success so far using Cup4Cup for any pie crust or cookie recipe calling for all-purpose wheat flour, with minimal or no adjustments. Just remember to measure by weight, not volume (sorry if that's remedial and goes without saying when speaking of adapting to gluten-free...), as Cup4Cup weighs 140 grams per cup. Good luck!
 
Denise S. April 6, 2019
I made these over the course of two days, all by hand, no mixer at all. They truly are delicious, like little bites of croissant crispiness. I used sparkling sugar for the top, rather than brown sugar. Really good!
 
Geri April 4, 2019
I cooked them too long. Drizzled them with Carmel sauce to overcome the dryness.😔
 
Sally C. March 29, 2019
Served for school lunch dessert in 1950, school size 50
 
Susanna March 28, 2019
I don’t bake or make sweets often and am often discouraged by recipes that call for a stand mixer, or indeed any mixer. Is there any way to adapt for hand-mixing? I don’t mind hard work, I’m just not willing to get a mixer for now.
 
jpriddy March 28, 2019
Absolutely! I baked for years without a mixer—broke a wooden spoon once while stirring a stiff bread sponge.

Use a fork to cut the butter into the flour mixture. Some people use two knives—one in each hand. Keep cutting through the butter to make it into smaller and small bits. You can even shorten the process by actually grating frozen butter. It takes a few minutes, then do the same with the water. Cut through the butter/flour mixture and stir it around with the chilled water. Keep it cold and if it warms up, you can always chill it again in the fridge.

It's what your grandmother did, and there is less danger of overworking when you do it by hand.
 
Susanna March 29, 2019
Thanks so much for the encouragement and advice!
 
d W. January 11, 2020
Do you have a pastry cutter thing? Works great...I realize this is late, I just saw this while browsing around. I have had to wait for my mixer and other things when I was in the Army and found that Grannie's ways always worked in a pinch. I have used rolling pins and cans of pumpkin to tenderize meat...you get the picture.
 
judy July 20, 2021
I still cut butter into flour with two knives. Works great!
 
Suzanne March 14, 2019
On pie day I know what I am going to attempt tonight. One favour - I live somewhere where butter is not sold in sticks. Any way you can either also add grams for the amount of butter or just write how many cups 1 1/2 sticks is.
 
BigJohn March 14, 2019
1.5 sticks butter = 3/8 pounds = 170 grams
 
Alice K. March 17, 2019
One stick of butter is 1/4 of a pound, or 1/2 cup.
 
Juliebell March 4, 2019
My grandmother used to make extra pie dough for us to cut out and sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon to keep us busy when she was baking pies. Thanks for reminding me of the memory. She used leaf lard and her pie crust was delicious.
 
Alice K. March 3, 2019
For years I have been making a cookie called Swedish Creme Wafers, which is basically two pie crust dough cookies sandwiched with buttercream. I bake them until just barely golden, not as dark as yours. They are always a hit.
 
granjan March 29, 2019
Cream wafers are the best. Everyone's favorite.The problem is they are a lot of boring work when you are making 10 to 20 dozen every Xmas! Thank goodness my nieces are finely old enough to really help.
 
Norma D. February 27, 2019
You stole my idea.
 
Erin A. February 25, 2019
I. Am. Obsessed.
 
Author Comment
Emma L. February 25, 2019
!!!