Saturday, September 19, 2009

Sandies Suck! (Just for Making Pie Crust) : Pecan Sandie Pie Crust

I like to mix it up with regards to the pie crusts I use. It gets boring to make the same one all the time, plus I really only like "traditional" pie crust for baked fruit pies AND it has been way too hot in my apartment for the last month to roll out a standard butter and flour crust. So most recently I decided to try out making crust with pecan sandies.

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:

It shrunk!

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.


  1. i have a question. you mention to mix the sugar and flour together and then cut in the butter. i have seen other recipes say to blend the sugar and butter into a cream and then cut in the flour. does this make a difference? what about type of sugar? i have read some say "sugar" and others "powdered sugar". looking for a good shortbread pie crust recipe and even bought some shortbread cookies to do exactly what you blogged about. thanks, Raul

  2. Just saw this comment and Raul probably isn't still out there... But for anyone else

    As listed in the ingredients, use powdered sugar for this. I think regular sugar would be too grainy.

    I have always cut in my butter when making this. I think it might help everything stick together...but then again I melt it for graham cracker crusts so it may not make a difference. When cutting it in though, cut it until fine. You don't want the big clumps you would leave behind in a pastry crust.

  3. maybe pecan sandies and lorna doones should only be used in a chilled crust without baking? i havent tried either but after reading a few posts about crusts made from cookies i was thinking maybe they shouldnt be baked just chilled

  4. I had great success with pecan sandie pie crust- 2 cups of sandies (about 16 cookies) with 1/4 cup of melted butter. Worked perfectly! My recipe also called for 1 cup of shredded sweetened coconut, which was a nice little addition. I was very careful to push the crust in the pan very firmly.

  5. You used WAY too much butter for a cookie with as high a fat content as Pecan Sandies. Cook's Illustrated/Cook County's recipe calls for 2 tablespoons of butter for 2 1/2 cups of Pecan Sandies crumbs. I use 3 tablespoons for 2 1/2 cups because I like it a little firmer, and it doesn't slump down the sides at all while baking.

    For a graham cracker crust, I use 6 tablespoons for 1 1/2 crumbs, but there is hardly any fat in graham crackers.

  6. I used 26 sandies, 1 stick butter and 1/2 cup of flour. Seems to have worked well as far as not shrinking goes.