Malted Pretzel Crunch for Super Bowl Sunday

First I just want to say that this malted pretzel crunch post was almost set to go Wednesday, and then my computer crashed.  It was fixed briefly, but then it crashed again.  Thankfully I didn’t lose anything, but I went through two days of no computer hell!  You know how it is nowadays – can’t live without it, really can’t live without it. How did I ever live without the internet?  I’d love to go back to those days to remember how.  I can’t even remember the last time I fully read a newspaper.  I think it was High School?

Malted Pretzel Crunch

Having said all that,  I have an awesome Super Bowl munchie to present to you.  I’m a NY Giants fan, so naturally this is a very special Super Bowl Sunday for me aka a Super DUPER Bowl Sunday, one that deserves its own special and unique snack. It’s called pretzel crunch and it contains malted milk powder.  How awesome is that?  If you’ve never had a chocolate or vanilla malted milkshake, or a box of Whoppers or Malteasers, you may not know the flavor that is ‘malted’. Well, I’ve racked my brain trying to come up with a description, but I can’t.  If anyone out there can, please do! However, once you do taste it, I can almost guarantee you’ll love it, since I don’t know many who don’t love it.

This amazing pretzel crunch was created by Christina Tosi of Momofuku Milk Bar fame, but I made a few subtle changes, one of them reducing the milk powder so I could double the malt powder, and the other, doubling the recipe, because you’re going to need a lot of it.  In fact, I would triple it, quadruple it!  It goes very, very fast.

Trust me when I say that this is not your average pretzel snack.  The combination of sweet, salty and malty is a massive, out-of-hand rave on the palate. On football Sundays, I have to make at least 5 pans of it!

“Hey, got anymore of the pretzel crunch?” is the most popular question, asked at least 5 times during any particular game watching get-together, be it baseball, football, basketball, rugby, curling; YES, curling might even be fun to watch when you have this malted pretzel crunch to munch on!

Now I’m going to shut up (shocking) and let you finish this post by photo.  A picture is worth a thousand words, a thousand words I don’t have today.  Enjoy your journey to one of the best pretzel crunch snacks you might ever have. Seriously.

Malted Pretzel Crunch aka Snack Crack

Malted Pretzel Crunch

Crush pretzels.

Malted Pretzel Crunch

Add sugars, milk powders, and optional salt to crushed pretzels, then combine.

Malted Pretzel Crunch

Pour melted butter over everything, and toss until all pieces are coated.

Malted Pretzel Crunch

Spread on a silpat or parchment lined baking sheet and bake.

Malted Pretzel Crunch

Dig in!

Let’s Go Giants!!

Malted Pretzel Crunch
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Yield: About 4 cups pretzel crunch
 
Recipe created by Christina Tosi, via Epicurious, with my revisions
ingredients:
  • 4 cups salted mini pretzels - about ½ of a 16-ounce bag
  • ½ cup tightly packed brown sugar
  • ¼ cup granulated sugar
  • 6 tablespoons milk powder
  • ¼ cup malted milk powder *
  • ½ teaspoon salt **
  • 14 tablespoons butter (1 stick, plus 6 tablespoons), melted
directions:
  1. Preheat oven to 275 F.
  2. Pour the pretzels in a large bowl and crush them with your hands (I threw them in a ziplock bag and hammered them with a mallet - easier, in my opinion) to one-quarter of their original size. Add the milk powder, malt powder, granulated sugar, brown sugar, and salt (if necessary), toss to mix. Pour the butter over the pretzel mix and toss to coat. As you toss, the butter will act as glue, binding the dry ingredients to the pretzels and creating small clusters. (I did not get small clusters, but once baked, it formed a sheet of pretzel crunch that I broke into pieces).
  3. Spread the clusters on a parchment or silpat-lined sheet pan and bake for about 20 minutes or until it looks toasted, smells buttery, and crunches gently when you bite into it.
  4. Cool the pretzel crunch completely before storing, eating, or using in a recipe. Stored in an airtight container at room temperature, the crunch will keep fresh for 1 week. Stored in the fridge or freezer, it will keep for 1 month. I think this pretzel crunch would be fantastic in cookies with chocolate chunks OR drizzle melted chocolate over the top of the sheet of pretzel crunch, let set, then break into pieces, like you would toffee.
notes:
* You can find malted milk powder in the aisle with powdered milk, or the baking aisle of your supermarket. This is the one I use.
** Only add salt if your pretzels aren't salty enough. Taste the mixture before baking to decide whether or not you think it needs it.

 Malted Pretzel Crunch. People go so nuts for it that I have to make 5 or more pans on football Sundays! Try it drizzled with chocolate, too!
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Brown Butter Custard Pie with Cinnamon Toast Crumb Crust, Sweet Potato Ganache and Cranberry

Phew, Brown Butter Custard Pie with Cinnamon Toast Crumb Crust, Sweet Potato Ganache and Cranberry is long title, and a title where there’s no pun, sarcasm, or play on any words in general. I think that’s a first for me. In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever titled an entry with just the name of the dish. New Year, new title, but it sounds SO good, doesn’t it? I could say it over and over without getting bored.

Brown Butter Custard Pie with Cinnamon Toast Crumb Crust, Sweet Potato Ganache and a Touch of Cranberry
Happy New Year, everyone! I’m back with some resolutions, and one of the most incredible pies I’ve had the pleasure of making and gorging on. I would like to call it New Years Whoohoo Pie, but it’s already been created by Christina Tosi of Momofuku pastry fame. Does crack pie ring a bell? I call her the goddess of milk powder and cookie crumbs! Actually, this pie contains no milk powder whatsoever, but it does contains crumbs, and wow, lots of amazing crumbs, as in cinnamon toast crumbs, but REAL cinnamon toast crumbs, not the cereal that’s supposed to emulate cinnamon toast.

Momofuku Milk Bar's Cinnamon Toast Crumb Pie Crust using the crusts from white bread! Much better than a Graham Cracker Crust! We've eaten this crust as is, no filling..that's how good it is!

Before I continue on with this amazing pie, I’d like to present to you my New Year’s resolutions for 2011.  No, these are not your typical resolutions because I’ve come to the conclusion that they never work out anyway, so why not keep them on a more doable level?

1.  I will never again order deep-fried, breaded, colossal or jumbo shrimp.  What you almost always get is a medium butterflied shrimp, pounded paper thin, then coated with enough batter and bread crumbs to feed a small country.  Never again will I have to ask, “Where’s the shrimp?”as I peel away the armor of breading.

2.  Learn a little Italian, but not because it’s been a goal of mine, but because my Photoshop is now Italian, and continues to be so even after several re- installations in which I checked ENGLISH every.single.time, about a gazillion times.  Apri means open!  Off to a great start!.

3.  Fight the spellcheck powers that be to incorporate and recognize culinary words and terms.  Come on, just give me ganache!

Momofuku Milk Bar's Cinnamon Toast Crumb Pie Crust using the crusts from white bread! Much better than a Graham Cracker Crust! We've eaten this crust as is, no filling..that's how good it is!
OK, back to this phenomenal pie.  Whenever I see a recipe of Christina Tosi’s, I always think, either ‘WOW! Must try!” or “I wish I had thought of that!” I mean, the concept of a a cinnamon toast crumb crust is almost too obvious, yet, no one thought of it or executed it until she did, and it’s brilliant, not to mention incredibly perfect, delicious and addicting.  The cinnamon toast croutons, prior to grinding for crust, could be a snack on their own, and should be sold as one!

Even if the filling isn’t your cup o’ tea as far as your palatable preferences go, you cannot live the rest of your life without making this crust, or even just the croutons, once; just once! However, once you make it, you’ll want to make it again..and again..and again..and again; trust me on this one.

Brown Butter Custard Pie with Cinnamon Toast Crumb Crust, Sweet Potato Ganache and a Touch of CranberryWhenever I either A) miss taking photos of certain steps, or, B) the photos just don’t turn out, I always find a way to cobble together something that shows, well, something.  Look! That’s a half cup of mashed sweet potato on your bottom left!

The filling is also pretty awesome, and it’s just the right amount of sweetness.  Rich brown butter solids, milk and brown sugar, set with gelatin, then folded together with a combination of whipped heavy cream and sour cream.  It literally melts in your mouth.

Brown Butter Custard Pie with Cinnamon Toast Crumb Crust, Sweet Potato Ganache and a Touch of Cranberry                                  Nothing wrong with plain and unadorned.

The recipe calls for a cranberry puree topping with a sweet potato – white chocolate ganache piped around the perimeter of the pie. I took the opposite route; I spread the sweet potato ganache on top of the pie, and then accented each slice with a spoonful of whole cranberry sauce.  This was not because I’m not a huge fan of cranberries, but because it just made more sense for some reason.  I feel a little tartness is sufficient, and frankly, the sweet potato ganache is more than worthy of being a part of each and every bite.

Brown Butter Custard Pie with Cinnamon Toast Crumb Crust, Sweet Potato Ganache and a Touch of Cranberry
In conclusion, I have one more resolution.  Try more of Christina Tosi’s recipes.

Brown Butter Custard Pie with Cinnamon Toast Crumb Crust, Sweet Potato Ganache and a Touch of Cranberry

Brown Butter Custard Pie with Cinnamon Toast Crumb Crust, Sweet Potato Ganache and a Touch of Cranberry

Brown Butter Custard Pie with Cinnamon Toast Crumb Crust, Sweet Potato Ganache and Cranberry
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Yield: 8 to 10 servings
 
Adapted from Christina Tosi via Food & Wine
ingredients:
Cinnamon Toast Crumb Crust
  • 2 sticks unsalted butter
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1½ teaspoons kosher salt
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon (I used one heaping teaspoon)
  • 4 cups diced crusts and end pieces from 1 loaf of packaged white bread (10 ounces of crusts)
Brown Butter Custard Filling
  • 2 teaspoons plain powdered gelatin
  • 2 tablespoons water
  • Reserved browned butter solids from melted butter for Cinnamon Toast Crumb Crust
  • 1 cup whole milk
  • ⅓ cup light brown sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon cinnamon
  • Kosher salt
  • ¾ cup heavy cream
  • ¼ cup sour cream
Sweet Potato Ganache
  • 3½ ounces white chocolate, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons heavy cream
  • 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • ½ cup mashed sweet potatoes
  • ⅛ teaspoon cinnamon
  • pinch of salt
  • 1 cup whole cranberry sauce (optional)
directions:
Make Cinnamon Toast Crumb Crust
  1. Preheat the oven to 325°. In a saucepan, melt the butter. Cook over moderate heat, stirring, until the butter is golden brown, about 8 minutes; strain into a glass measuring cup. Reserve the browned butter solids for the Brown Butter Custard Pie.
  2. Pour half of the melted butter into a bowl. Add the sugar, salt, cinnamon and bread, and toss. Spread the bread on a baking sheet and bake for 35 minutes, stirring once or twice, until golden. Let cool.
  3. Rewarm the remaining butter; pour into a food processor. Add the croutons and pulse to fine crumbs; spoon the crumbs into a 10-inch pie plate. Refrigerate for 5 minutes. Press the crumbs over the bottom and sides of the pie plate; refrigerate the crust until chilled, 15 minutes.
Make the Brown Butter Custard Filling
  1. In a microwave-safe bowl, sprinkle the gelatin over 2 tablespoons of water and let stand until softened, 3 minutes. Microwave at high power for 10 seconds, until melted. In a microwave-safe measuring cup, microwave the reserved brown butter solids with the milk, sugar, ⅛ teaspoon of the cinnamon and a pinch of salt until warm. Whisk in the gelatin and refrigerate until set.
  2. In a bowl, whisk ¾ cup of the heavy cream and sour cream to soft peaks. Whisk the custard to loosen it, then fold into the whipped cream. Pour the custard into the Cinnamon Toast Crumb Crust; refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Make the Sweet Potato Ganache
  1. In a microwave-safe bowl, melt the white chocolate and butter. Add the mashed sweet potatoes, the remaining 2 tablespoons of heavy cream and ⅛ teaspoon of cinnamon and a pinch of salt; whisk until smooth. (I did this over a double boiler aka bowl over pot with simmering water)
  2. My change - Spoon the sweet potato ganache over the pie and spread it evenly with the back of a spoon or an offset spatula. Refrigerate until set, at least 30 minutes. Cut the pie into wedges and top each slice with a spoonful of cranberry sauce (if desired).

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