Recipe by Sarah Phillips; Food styling and photos by Kelly Hong © 2006 Sarah Phillips CraftyBaking.com
Variations: Cocoa-Orange Graham Cracker Crust; Cookie Crust; Spiced Nut Graham Cracker Crust; Coconut Graham Cracker Crust; Almond Graham Cracker Crust; Chocolate "Peanut Butter Cup" Cookie Crust; Mocha Graham Cracker Crust; Ginger-Snap Cookie Crust
This makes a delicious and basic graham cracker crust called for in many recipes. The flavor variations are just divine! Discover our tricks to getting a perfect crust, and figuring out when to prebake the crust or not.
PASTRY RECIPE HELP
If the pie filling has to be baked with the crust, do NOT prebake the crust.
Instead, refrigerate the crust, after making, for about 20 minutes and then pour in the filling and bake.
The trick to getting the crust perfect is to make sure you really tap the crust into the pie pan - not so hard that you cannot remove the crust after the pie is baked, though!
I use the bottom of a measuring cup. See Step #5, below.
1 1/4 cups graham cracker crumbs; from 9 full-size crackers (18 squares total)
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup (5 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon) unsalted butter, melted
1. Position an oven shelf in the middle of the oven and preheat it to 375 degrees F
2. Place graham crackers in a food processor fitted with a steel blade.
KELLY SAYS: Since I did not have graham cracker crumbs, I made them in the food processor. It's quick as a jiffy to make them this way, and usually much more inexpensive than buying the crumbs! The pie crust can be made a day in advance.
3. Pulse the food processor several times until the graham crackers are ground into fine crumbs.
4. To make the crust, in the pan or in a bowl, lightly toss the crumbs, sugar and salt until well combined.
Drizzle with melted butter and mix together.
5. Press the graham cracker crust mixture into the bottom and up the sides of the pie pan with your fingertips.
If using a tart pan, place the mixed graham cracker mixture into the bottom of a tart pan with a removable bottom.
Press the graham cracker crust mixture into the bottom and up the sides of the tart pan with your fingertips.
SARAH SAYS: I use a 1/4-cup measuring cup to tap down crust and to define the inside corners (place cup right next to side of crust. When I tap it down, the edge of the measuring cup helps define the corners of my crust). Make sure the crust is evenly distributed and the side is compacted.
When using a tart pan, press the crumbs with a 1/4-cup measuring cup.
6. Optionally, bake the shaped pie or tart crust on a baking sheet in a preheated oven for 6 - 8 minutes until it smells done and the crust is just becoming firm. Looks are deceiving.
7. Slide the baked crust from the baking sheet to a wire cake rack to cool completely, in its pan. When using a tart pan, do not pick up the pan by its bottom, or you’ll crack the crust.
The pie crust can be made in advance and stored, well wrapped, at room temperature for a day or so, or frozen for over a month.
FLAVORED VARIATIONS: The flavor variations are endless. Remember to crush graham crackers or cookies before measuring and using. Graham crackers now come in different flavors, such as chocolate, honey, or cinnamon, to name a few. Just use instead of regular ones.
Cocoa-Orange Graham Crust: Add 3 tablespoons unsweetened Dutch-process cocoa to the recipe. Replace all or 1- 2 tablespoons sugar with packed dark brown sugar. Stir in 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1 teaspoon vanilla extract and 1 tablespoon finely chopped orange peel with the dark brown sugar. Evenly disperse them before adding to the crushed graham crackers.
Cinnamon Graham Cracker Crust: Use packed dark brown sugar instead of granulated. Stir in 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Cookie Crust: Vanilla or chocolate wafers work well. There are even Oreo Cookie Crumbs to use in a recipe. Use in place of regular graham cracker crumbs.
Spiced Nut Graham Cracker Crust: Add 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg and 1/4 teaspoon ground ginger with 1/4-cup finely chopped toasted walnuts or pecans to the basic crust recipe.
Coconut Graham Cracker Crust: Add 1/4 cup toasted flaked coconut (sweetened or unsweetened) and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract to the basic crust recipe.
Almond Graham Cracker Crust: Add in 1/4 cup ground blanched (peeled) almonds and toasted almonds with the graham cracker crumbs
Chocolate “Peanut Butter Cup” Cookie Crust: Instead of graham cracker crumbs, use chocolate cookie crumbs. Ingredients: 1/3 cup chunky peanut butter, 1/3 cup confectioner’s sugar, 2 TBSP dark brown sugar and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract. In a small bowl combine sugars. Add peanut butter. Using fingertips, rub mixture together until forms small crumbs. Sprinkle over crust. Then pour in the cheesecake filling.
Mocha Graham Cracker Crust: Blend in 1/2 teaspoon instant espresso powder or instant coffee granules with the graham cracker crumbs, preferably chocolate ones.
Ginger-Snap Cookie Crust: Use 1 3/4 cups finely ground gingersnap cookie crumbs (about 40, 2-inch cookies), instead of graham crackers. Proceed with the rest of the recipe.