I couldn’t find “the moose.” I explained to Kelli that I couldn’t make a great graham cracker crust without the moose. A great graham cracker crust must be formed properly.
There are three things that hold the crumbs together: sugar, butter, and compression. Without those, the crust falls apart when you slice your dessert.
When you prebake the crust, it’s obvious that the butter melts-but the sugar does also. When the dessert chills, the sugar and the butter help hold the crust together.
But the crust has to be formed properly also. The crust should not be over 1/4 inch thick on the bottom, 3/8 inch maximum. If it’s thicker than that, it’s going to fall apart. If the crumbs are not tightly pressed together, it’s going to fall apart.
That’s where the moose comes in.
The easiest way to press those crumbs together and to shape the crust is to use a glass or a mug. The moose is a stray glass with a flat bottom and a slight taper to the sidewalls. I use the glass to press both bottom and the sides of the crust. The moose and I go back a long way and have formed many crusts together.
Pressing the bottom crust forces crumbs up the sides of the springform pan. Pressing the moose against the sides of the springform pan compresses the crumbs into firm sidewall and makes a taller crust.
We sell a tart tamper that does this perfectly but I’m attached to the moose.
A note about springform pans
We probably have two dozen springform pans in our test kitchen. We almost always reach for one of Candy Apple Red Silicone Springform Pans. We are absolutely in love with these. It will change how you bake.
- They have a glass base. You can cut and serve right from the base. You can drop the base on the floor and it won’t break.
- They have double seals, on top and on bottom of the glass. You can bake cakes, brownies, and cornbread and they don’t leak. That means that you can bake anything that fits. It’s the most used baking pan in our kitchen.
- The silicone sidewall peels off like a candy wrapper. Your presentation is always perfect. You don’t have to separate the cake from the ring.
When we make a pie recipe that calls for graham cracker crust, especially if it calls for a deep dish pie pan, we usually use this silicone pan. It beats the dickens out of trying to cut slices in a pan and digging them out without breaking them up.
Do you have to prebake the crust? Plus a recipe.
There are recipe authors that advocate baking the crust before you fill it. It doesn’t need to be if you re making a dessert, such as a cheesecake, that is going to be baked. The crust will bake along with the dessert. If you are making a refrigerator dessert or a freezer dessert that is not baked, prebake the crust so that the sugar melts.
By the way, buy graham cracker crumbs. Don’t invest valuable kitchen time crushing or grinding graham crackers.
The following recipe for a graham cracker crumb crust represents a nice balance of sugar, butter, and crumbs and is the right size for a nine-inch springform pan.
1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs (you may also use crush chocolate cookies or gingersnaps)
1/3 cup butter
1/3 cup granulated sugar
Melt the butter in the microwave. Stir the crumbs and sugar together in the pan. Stir in the butter. Press the crumbs into the bottom of the pan and up the sides. If you have trouble getting the crumbs to hold together, you can add more melted butter.