Before I tried this recipe, if someone said the word "pie," I'd leap off my couch and zip into my kitchen to put some butter in the freezer. I remember the first time my mom taught me how to make pie crust. We used blunt knives to cut flour into frozen cubes of butter. A cup of ice cold water stood by, ready to dribble into the dough. She taught me to pour just enough water to get the dough to hold together in pea-sized crumbles. We'd then wrap the dough up into disks and quickly stick it into the fridge for chilling. Don't overwork the dough with your hands, she'd stress. Their warmth will melt the butter and you can kiss any flakiness goodbye!
One thing I never thought about, though, was that this method of pie crust production made one, very specific kind of pie crust. It was perfect for your all-American apple pie, or a weekend quiche. The crust flakes apart perfectly when you dig in, but still has a bit of a bite to it-- like al dente pasta. But a lovely chocolate tart? This isn't the crust for that.
Turns out, the way you make a crust for that (well, one of the ways) is by PUTTING YOUR BUTTER IN THE OVEN UNTIL IT MELTS AND STARTS TO BROWN. I don't like typing in all caps (except for constantly on Twitter), but this was an all-caps bombshell for me. Pies used to take hours because of all the freezing and chilling and resting of the dough. With this brown butter pie crust recipe, pie exists in your immediate future. Say, 30 minutes.
I like to fill this shell with chocolate pudding, or any other kind of custard. The crust is flaky, but in a different way from the pie crust my mom taught me. While the version my mom taught me (a traditional Pâte Brisée) is moist and flaky in a pastry-sort-of-way, this brown butter tart shell has a pleasant, dry crispiness-- imagine the difference between a moist-yet-crumbly chocolate chip cookie versus a crisp, dry Oreo.
Hm, debating whether or not that was helpful... welp!
Anyway, the drier and very light texture works so well with a mound of pudding as its filling, but would also be nice with a rich ganache or lemon curd.
Since I always feel funky about republishing recipes that aren't mine, here are a couple links for ya to check out. If you're a boring rule-follower like me, opening up the hot oven to find a bowl of hot butter into which you mix your flour will have you feeling bad to the bone. B-b-b-b-b-bad. Have fun!