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
(1 ½ sticks) unsalted butter, very cold
1 1/2 cups
(192 grams) all-purpose flour
kosher salt, plus a tiny pinch
very cold water, plus more as needed
turbinado sugar, plus more as needed
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.)
- 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.)
- Refrigerate the dough for 30 minutes.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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).
- 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.)
- 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.)
- 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!
- 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.
- Let cool completely before serving.