I have made my own shortbread crust from scratch a bunch of times, and it is good but I made it so many times I got really bored with it. Plus the packaged Sandies: Pecan Sortbread have a nice silky texture that is different from how my shortbread crust comes out AND the pecans are already added.
I was under the impression you could make a crust with just about any cookie you like, using a standard recipe similar to graham cracker crust recipes. This was a misconception.
I tried this first with last weeks fresh peach pie. The recipe was simple, 1 1/4 cup crushed pecan sandies + 1/3 cup butter. The mix was VERY buttery but I wasn't too worried so I pushed it into the pan and baked at 375 for about 10 minutes. This is what came out of the oven:
I was able to make it usable by gently pushing it up up the sides of the pie dish while it was still hot and soft and scraping away the extra-brown edges that got left behind at the top. It was usable but certainly not the perfection I crave.
However, I also feel strongly about not being defeated by a little recipe and wasn't about to let one near failure stop me. I was making a chocolate pudding pie this week and thought pecan sandies would go well with chocolate pudding. So I tried again, this time with a somewhat different recipe calling for a slightly larger crumb to butter ratio: 1 1/2 cups cookie crumbs to 1/4 cup butter baked the same way (this also produced a much better quantity or crust crumble for filling the 9" pie pan I have been using recently). The crumble was still very moist, but I went ahead and packed it into my pie pan.
Additionally, I got the (not so) brilliant idea to try weighting it down in the hopes this would prevent shrinkage. I lined the unbaked pie shell with aluminum foil and dumped some dry beans inside. After about 8 minutes I thought it would probably be safe to take this out and let the inside brown. Except that when I took it out I found the crust had STILL shrunk. Worse, it had caused the butter to migrate out of the cookies, leaving behind a thin layer of melted butter across the entire floor of the crust. It was pretty gross. Luckily it baked away when I stuck it back in the oven for about 10 more minutes. I performed the same spreading out procedure, and luckily the crust was again usable although not ideal.
The moral of the story: DO NOT TRY THIS AT HOME. There are plenty of cookies perfectly suited to making this kind of crust, pecan sandies just don't seem to be one of them.
If you want a shortbread crust, make your own. This is my recipe (and it works great):
- 1.5 cup flour
- 3 Tbsp powdered sugar
- 3/4 cup butter
1. Stir together flour and powdered sugar (If your heart is set on the pecans, just throw in a couple tablespoons of finely chopped ones here. I haven't tried it yet, but can't imagine it will be a problem.)
2. Cut in butter until cornmeal size
3. Press firmly into pie pan
4. Bake at 425 for 10-12 minutes, until golden
Note: This recipe fills a 9.5" pan, for a 9" or smaller 2/3 of the recipe will be enough.