I literally dreamt up this pie, which is surprising given what my dreams usually put me through. Feel free to skip to the end if you just want the recipe. It’s a cookie crust with a layer of salted caramel, and then a layer of pastry cream, and then a layer of crushed oreos, and then a layer of chocolate ganache.
My dreams are frequently, to be blunt, fucked up, or at least bizarre. There are some commonly repeating themes, like gobs of gum getting stuck in my teeth, dirty toilets, and the kind of superpowers that allow me to take huge bounding leaps from tree to tree. Or bamboo to bamboo. Sometimes my subconscious will erase all trace of a loved one (even my children!) and within the dream, I will have no memory of their existence. I’ve heard that vivid (fucked up) dreams indicate a creative mind, and I comfort myself with this theory, hoping that my weird dreams don’t mean I’m actually borderline demented. To wit:
Where I have daddy issues: When I was 5 or 6, I dreamt that my father had died, and my mother and I were attending his funeral, which was in black & white and at night. We’d just gotten to the part where the casket was getting lowered into the ground when one of those cars from the 1920s came roaring in with a group of revelers. I had this dream 3 times.
Where I discover why football needs to be kept out of the Olympics: When I was 15, I dreamt that I was playing ping-pong with Alberto Tomba in a swamp on a floating platform. The ball fell in the water, and Alberto went to retrieve it when he found himself attacked by the ’93 Buffalo Bills (I guess staying on the platform kept me safe). They killed him by cutting a hole in the crotch of his pants and inserting a snake into the hole.
Where I’m M. Night Shyamalan: About 5 years ago, I dreamt I woke up in a bed (yes, rather meta) to a girl crying to my right. Concerned, I turned towards her and asked her why she was crying, and she said that her sister had died. I said, “Oh no! What happened?” She pointed behind me, to the left of the bed, where her sister was hanging from the ceiling. It still gives me the heebie-jeebies.
Where mmmm, chocolate crepes: 2 years ago, I dreamt of a chocolate crepe, where I’d added cocoa to the batter, and put chocolate, nutella, and mochi chunks in the crepe. That was a great dream.
Where I’m M. Night Shyamalan again: Not long after the crepes, I dreamt that I threw a party, and some asshole kids had turned on the water in my bathtub until the bathroom was flooded. I went to clean up the mess, and there were two disembodied, decaying legs in my tub.
Where I’m a stripper: I dreamt that Earl invited me to observe one of the classes he was teaching, and he told me I had to behave. When it came time to observe the lesson, I discovered that I was in the process of getting undressed. I actually looked down and saw my dress half-off, and thought, “Oh no, and Earl told me to behave too…”
Where I can’t be tied down: I dreamt I went on an OkCupid date to Clarice’s piano competition, but I took my man-harem with me (I had a man-harem in the dream; I don’t have one in real life). My date was very upset about this, and the harem and I were baffled about why.
Where mmmm, brioche: I dreamt that I had a huge loaf of brioche, which I cut open, pulled out a chunk in the middle, sprinkled it with wine, and replaced the chunk to infuse the wine flavor into the rest of the brioche.
Where I’m meant to be a porn star: I dreamt that I was roommates with a couple, and while the woman wasn’t home, I cheated with her boyfriend, which involved him spraying me from head to toe with ejaculate, like the worst firehose ever.
Where Ryan Reynolds gets my friend’s wrath: I dreamt I made out with Ryan Reynolds, and a friend of mine thought it was a huge joke, so he tried pretending to make out with me too, only when he realized that Ryan Reynolds and I were making out quite seriously, he became angry and gave Ryan Reynolds a titty-twister.
I jotted all of those down to illustrate what it’s like to be in my head: if I’m not dreaming about something bizarre, I’m dreaming about delicious food. In September, I dreamt about this pie and didn’t have the time or occasion to make it until Thanksgiving. And since now I know how well dream-pie worked out, I also prophetically know not to live with any couples now unless I want to be drenched in semen. I’m intuitive like that.
Caveat: the crust, caramel sauce, and pastry cream need to be made ahead and cooled before being layered. The crust takes about 30 minutes to cool, but the caramel and pastry cream will take several hours. It takes almost no time at all to make the ganache and to assemble the pie, so it might make things easier on you to make the crust, caramel, and pastry cream the day before. I made the crust, let it cool, made the caramel, let my kids help me drizzle it into the crust, and then put the crust-caramel assembly in the fridge overnight.
Cookie Crust (this crust is out of Ken Haedrich’s Pieble)
– 30 chocolate wafers (these wafers by Nabisco)
– 2 tbsp (25 g) firmly packed light brown sugar
– 1 tbsp (7.81 g) all-purpose flour
– big pinch salt
– ¼ cup (½ stick (56.68 g)) unsalted butter, melted
Salted Caramel Sauce
– ½ cup (99.22 g) granulated sugar
– 4 tbsp (59.15 mL) water
– 6 tbsp (88.72 mL) heavy cream
– 2 tbsp (28.35 g) unsalted butter, cut into chunks
– ½ tsp (4.9 g) sea salt
– 1½ c (354.88 mL) half-and-half (half cream)
– ½ c (99.22 g) sugar
– 2 large eggs
– 1 large egg yolk
– 2 tbsp (15.62 g) all-purpose flour
– 2 tsp (7.39 mL) vanilla extract
– ¾ c (177.44 mL) heavy cream
– 1½ tbsp (21.26 g) unsalted butter
– 6 oz (170.10 g) semisweet chocolate, chopped
– ¾ tsp (3.70 mL) vanilla extract
1. Preheat the oven to 350ºF (176.67ºC). Lightly butter a 9-inch (22.86-cm) pie pan.
2. Combine the wafers, brown sugar, flour, and salt in a food processor. Using long pulses, grind the wafers to a very fine texture. They should be both slightly gritty and floury. Dump the crumbs into a large bowl and add the butter. Mix, first with a fork, then with your hands, rubbing thoroughly to blend. If the mixture still seems a little crumbly, drizzle on ½ teaspoon (2.46 mL) water and rub again.
3. Spread the crumbs evenly in the pie pan, pressing them into the bottom and up the side. Refrigerate for 5 to 10 minutes.
4. Place on the center oven rack and bake for 6 minutes. Let cool on a wire rack before filling.
Salted Caramel Sauce
1. Combine the sugar and the water in a heavy-bottomed saucepan and stir over medium-low heat until the sugar dissolves. Increase the heat to medium-high and DON’T STIR. Bring the mixture to a boil. Boil until the syrup is a deep amber color, about 5 to 6 minutes. Do not take your eyes off the pot or let your children distract you because that motherfucker goes from deep amber to irretrievably burnt in the time it takes for you to say, “Dr. Lecter, will you stop eating all the Oreos?” Remove the pot from the heat and don’t splatter anything because caramelized sugar will totally give you second degree burns.
2. Slowly add the cream, and when it’s done very violently bubbling, whisk carefully. Add the butter and salt and continue whisking until everything is combined.
3. Cool the sauce a little and then drizzle it into the crust. Place plastic wrap on top and stuff it in the refrigerator. Or cool the sauce thoroughly and drizzle it in the next day. I don’t care.
1. Whisk the sugar, eggs, egg yolk, and flour in a medium bowl.
2. In another heavy-bottomed saucepan (or the same one if you have someone like Earl who cleans up after your whirling dervish cooking style), bring the half-and-half to a simmer on medium heat, whisking to avoid that nasty milk-skin that forms on top when you cook milk products. Remove the saucepan from the heat.
3. Temper the eggs by drizzling a third of the half-and-half into the egg mixture while whisking it very enthusiastically. Pour the rest of the half-and-half in, still whisking very enthusiastically.
4. Pour the combined mixture back into the saucepan and cook on medium heat, whisking constantly until the mixture thickens and just begins to boil, about 5 minutes. Do NOT overcook or else you’ll get this weird grainy cream where the granules are bits of solid egg. It’s unpleasant. At that point the only thing you can do is either take an immersion blender to it and basically pulverize the egg bits, or whisk several times more enthusiastically.
5. Pour the mixture into yet another medium bowl (this is why Earl is so handy, because that original bowl would be washed and ready for me to dirty again if we weren’t separated by an ocean). Press a piece of plastic wrap against the surface of the pastry cream, avoiding too many air bubbles to keep the pastry cream from drying out.
6. Cool for at least 4 hours (or overnight).
1. Put the Oreos in a plastic bag. Push the excess air out and seal the bag.
2. Smash the Oreos into crumbs by taking a rolling pin to the bag. Whether that means rolling the bag or smashing the fuck out of it is up to you.
1. Heat the cream and butter in heavy-bottomed saucepan (Eeeaaaaarrrrllll) on medium heat until the mixture is hot, but don’t boil it. Remove creamy butter from heat.
2. Add the chocolate and the vanilla and whisk until smooth.
1. Whisk everything together in a double boiler over simmering water until the mixture is smooth.
The layers according to my subconscious go (from the bottom up): crust, caramel, pastry cream, Oreos, ganache, garnish. When you cut into it, it kind of resembles an Oreo too. As for the garnish, a lot of Oreo garnishes you see in pictures feature whole Oreos sticking upright out of the goddamn pie, and I find this visually unappealing. It’s reminiscent of a circular saw, and knowing what you know now about the kind of dreams I have, surely you can understand why I shun this imagery. I opted for something simpler and less dangerous-looking (NB: this is the result of too little ganache and not at all the result of too much ganache-sampling).