Not all graham cracker crusts are created equal. My Southwest spin on the traditional pie crust has a nutty flavor from toasted pecans and a hint of Mexican cinnamon. You will find yourself using it in all sorts of desserts or just eating it with a spoon.
Trust me when I say this is the best pie crust you have ever eaten. It’s the base flavor for my amazing Chocolate Pie Recipe as well as any cheesecake or no-bake pie that I ever make. I even use it as a topping for warm apple or peach crumbles and the topping for mashed sweet potatoes. It has been rumored that I once ate so much of this crumb mixture while cooking a fancy holiday dinner that I made myself sick , that I had to stall and think of ways to delay dinner time. I can’t be sure about that though.
I decided to give this pie crust it’s very own post because I think the way I make this pie crust is just as important as the ingredients that are in the pie crust. I leave the graham cracker crumbs large and very coarse so that the crust does not get soggy from the filling. The texture of the crumbs and pecans add a slight crunch to the creaminess of the chocolate pie. The hint of Mexican cinnamon leaves everyone wondering what the wonderful flavor is.
This post also gives me a chance to add step by step photos so you can see what I mean about the texture of the crumb.
Here’s how I do it:
The first step is to make the graham cracker crumbs. I always use whole graham crackers, not the pre-packaged crumbs that are too fine and are more like flour or dust than crumbs.
Second, I all ways break the crackers into quarter or dime sized pieces and add the to the food processor in small batches. This allows the crackers to break evenly into crumbs and not turn half of the crackers into dust while large pieces remain.
Use the “pulse” button on the food processor to chop the small batches of crumbs so they will break evenly.
The next step is the pecans. They should be chopped as close to the size of the crumbs as possible. The easiest way to do this is to buy them that way. Several brands sell pecan “chips” or “bits” that are just the right size. You can even save a little money by using these “bits” because they are cheaper than the big, beautiful pecan halves.
If you can’t find the pecan pieces, chop them to the same size as the crumbs with a chef’s knife or food processor. If you use a food processor, work in small batches and use the “pulse” button so you get as little pecan “dust” as possible.
After you mix all of the ingredients together and drizzle in the butter, you will not be able to tell the difference between the graham cracker crumbs and the pecans. There should be pieces of graham cracker that are as large or larger than the nuts.
Use Mexican cinnamon (often called canella) when you can find it. Canella has a slightly different taste, I wouldn’t call it “heat” but, it is a little different. If you can’t find canella, regular cinnamon is just as good.
Be sure to use a good sweet butter and don’t forget the salt! I have forgotten the sugar before and that is not a problem, the pie filling is sweet enough without it but, the salt really brings out the other flavors.
Finally, use the bottom of a measuring cup to press the crumbs evenly over the bottom of the pie plate and up the sides. The crust should be about 1/4 inch thick. Chill in the refrigerator to set the crust until ready to fill.
I made my chocolate pies for the big family gathering at Thanks giving this year and noticed that people were scraping the extra crumbs on the bottom of the pie plate onto the top of their pie. They loved it!
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—Happy Valentine’s Day!
- 9 ounces whole graham crackers
- 2 ounce package pecan bits or chips
- ½ cup granulated sugar
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 8 tablespoons butter, melted
- Working in small batches, break the graham crackers into small, dime sized pieces and place ¼ to ½ of the crackers in a food processor. Pulse until the crackers are the size of large, grainy sand. Pour into a large mixing bowl and repeat with the remaining crackers. Do not over process. There may still be larger pieces that can be broken up by hand.
- Pour the pecan bits or chips (very small diced pecans) in a hot frying pan over medium high heat and toast until you can smell the aroma of the pecans. Pour into the bowl with the cracker crumbs. The pecan pieces should be about the same size as the cracker crumbs. (See photos above)
- Combine the crumbs, pecans, sugar, cinnamon and salt together until well mixed.
- Drizzle the melted butter evenly over the crumb mixture while stirring. Continue stirring until all of the crumbs are moistened by the butter.
- Divide the mixture between two pie plates. Reserve about a cup to use as needed to fill “holes” in the crust, if needed.
- Use the bottom of a measuring cup to press the mixture evenly into the bottom of the pie plate and up the sides. The crust should be about ¼ inch thick or a little more.
- Place the crusts in the refrigerator to chill.