Graham Cracker Pie or Tart Crust

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GRAHAM CRACKER PIE OR TART CRUST with lots of flavored variations by Sarah Phillips © 2006 Sarah Phillips
Makes one 8 or 9-inch pie shell

Graham Cracker Crust and photo by Kelly CA © Sarah Phillips

Used in the Banoffee Pie Recipe!

Banoffee Pie and photo by Kelly CA © Sarah Phillips

This makes a delicious and basic graham cracker crust called for in many recipes. The flavor variations are just devine! 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!

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

KELLY CA 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.
1. Position an oven shelf in the middle of the oven and preheat it to 375 degrees F
NOTE: 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.

2. Place graham crackers in a food processor fitted with a steel blade.

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 pan with your fingertips.

SARAH SAYS: 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 you tap it down, the edge of the measuring cup will define the corners for your tart). Make sure the crust is evenly distributed and the side is compacted.

6. Optionally, bake the shaped 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.
NOTE: 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.

7. Slide the baked crust from the baking sheet to a wire cake rack to cool completely, in its pan. If 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

Cookies: 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 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 Crust: Add 1/4 cup toasted flaked coconut (sweetened or unsweetened) and 1 teaspoon vanilla extract to the basic crust recipe.

Almond: Add in 1/4 cup ground blanched (peeled) almonds and toasted almonds with the graham cracker crumbs

Chocolate “Peanut Butter Cup”: 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: Blend in 1/2 teaspoon instant espresso powder or instant coffee granules with the graham cracker crumbs, preferably chocolate ones.

Ginger-Snap: 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.