This recipe was inspired by an entry into this years’ Pillsbury Bake-Off, which I was lucky enough to be able to attend last month in Las Vegas. Called Sweet & Salty Cookie Pie, the recipe included basically 5 things: pie crust, nutella, chocolate chips, sugar cookie dough, and toffee bits. I tasted it and was immediately in love (and, I’ll say, disappointed it didn’t get a nod in the winners’ circle).
Of course, I had to give the recipe my own twist, adding a layer of fudgy brownie in the middle, along with homemade sugar cookie dough in lieu of pre-made, and a generous sprinkling of Maldon sea salt on top of the tart like culinary fairy dust.
The biggest question though, was what do I call it? Nutella Swirled and Sea Salt Sprinkled Brownie and Sugar Cookie Crumble Tart seemed overly long and convoluted, but all of the aforementioned ingredients deserved to be highlighted. Alas, ultimately the sea salt got the boot as it’s the subtlest (but no less important) player in the game.
The result of this ultimate dessert mash-up is a dense, brownie-like tart, with a flaky pie crust and slightly crunchy sugar cookie topping. It’s much more cookie-like than pie-like, so don’t be deceived by the name. While I didn’t add them, I think the toffee bits would be a very nice addition along with the sea salt and thus included them as an optional addition in the recipe. You could also swap out the nutella for peanut butter or cookie butter, and the sugar cookie dough for chocolate chip or oatmeal cookie dough, and even use a graham cracker or chocolate cookie crust if you so desired.
With so many possibilities, maybe I should have called it the “choose your own adventure” brownie tart.
In other news, the Pillsbury Bake-Off is coming to Nashville! Next year my lovely city will host this culinary competition, and I’m psyched. I’ll admit, despite the fact that I rarely use the kinds of pre-made products featured, there was no denying the creativity and originality of the competitors. The finalists came up with some extremely innovative recipes despite the limitations, using various frostings, fillings, and doughs in ways I never would have imagined.
Color me impressed.
And hungry. Very very hungry.
- 1 9-inch pie crust (pre-made or use your favorite recipe)
For Sugar Cookie Dough:
- 1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter, cold
- 1/2 cup granulated sugar
- 1 large egg
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
For Brownie Layer:
- 1/3 cup all-purpose flour
- 1/4 cup dark or dutch process cocoa powder
- 1/2 teaspoon instant espresso powder
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/4 cup unsalted butter, melted
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- 1/4 cup brown sugar
- 1 large egg
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
For Tart Assembly:
- 1/4 cup chocolate hazelnut spread (like Nutella)
- flake sea salt (such as Maldon), for sprinkling
- toffee bits (optional, for sprinkling)
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Roll out pie crust to slightly thinner than you would for a normal pie, and gently ease into a 9-inch tart pan with removable bottom. Run a rolling pin over top of pan to trim excess dough. Refrigerate crust until ready to use.
To prepare sugar cookie dough, place butter in the bowl of a stand mixer or a large mixing bowl and beat on medium-high speed until light and fluffy. Add sugar and beat until incorporated. Mix in egg and vanilla. Add flour, baking powder, and salt and mix until dough comes together.
To prepare brownie layer, sift together flour, cocoa powder, espresso powder, baking soda, and salt into a bowl. Whisk to combine and set aside.
In a medium bowl, whisk melted butter with sugar and brown sugar until it forms a thick paste. Whisk in egg and vanilla. Add dry ingredients and fold until just incorporated and no dry flour remains. Pour batter into chilled pie crust.
Place Nutella in a microwave safe bowl and microwave for 10-15 seconds or until just softened. Drizzle over top of brownie batter, then crumble sugar cookie dough over top. (You’ll probably only need about 2/3 of the dough, as you still want some brownie peeking through. But don’t waste the leftover – roll it out and bake some cookies to go with your pie!) Sprinkle with salt and toffee bits (if using).
Bake for 30 to 35 minutes or until brownie is puffed and set and sugar cookie is light golden brown. Remove from oven and let cool to room temperature before slicing and serving. Tart will keep, covered in the refrigerator, for up to 5 days.