Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Fresh Strawberry Pie in a Chocolate Crumb Crust #15

This is the first strawberry pie I've made. I've always liked the idea of strawberry pies (because I love strawberries), and I've ordered it more than probably any other pie, but I only remember having it one or two times where I actually really liked it. In fact, I've had so many bad ones that it's almost turned me off from strawberry pie altogether.

I think that there are two parts that really make or break a strawberry pie for me: 1-the freshness of the strawberries, and 2-the gel/jam that keeps the strawberries together.

So, despite my past experiences with unfavorable strawberry pies, I thought I'd give it a go because we wanted to start out Spring the right way...with a little bit of fruit. (We made this on March 21. Blogger is just giving me a lot of grief the past week, sorry it's taken so long for me to post it.)

I was interested in this pie particularly because of the chocolate crust, I thought that might add a good twist, and it did. I liked the chocolate and the strawberries together. The chocolate is rich and in some way just kind of tastes like eating spoon fulls of chocolate dipped strawberries (that can't be all bad, right), but it felt like it needed something else.

Also, the strawberries were good and the gel was more like a jam, which I was very happy about (I hate eating thick gel substances). I'm not sure I loved the balsamic vinegar in the jam. It didn't take away from the strawberries, but I'm not convinced that it made it better. As far as the crème fraîche goes, I wasn't a fan...I though it tasted good alone, but in the end I wanted to eat my pie with vanilla ice cream more than with the crème fraîche. Truth be told I wanted my pie crust and strawberry filling as toppings for my vanilla ice cream not the other way around, which doesn't say much for the pie or doesn't say much about how refined my tastes are.

The reviews go something like this: Kim Gardner (my friend who was visiting from out of town) said she liked it a lot (though, I don't believe she had seconds, which is a true sign of liking something...isn't it?).

Ryan thought it was okay but wouldn't have me make it again.

I had seconds and thirds, because I loved the strawberry chocolate combination (with vanilla ice cream, of course), but it wasn't good enough that I want to make it anytime soon. However, I must say, it is definitely one of the best strawberry pies I've had though it's not the end-all of strawberry pie recipes. I still like the idea of delicious crusts and strawberries mixed together, but it makes me wonder if strawberry pies just need to be reinvented altogether.

But I think that quest will just have to wait until next spring...

Chocolate Crumb Crust
2 Cups Chocolate wafer crumbs (recipe found here)
2 cups pasteurized heavy cream
(ultra-pasteurized won’t work)
2 tablespoons buttermilk
2 tablespoons sugar
Crème Fraîche: Combine the cream and buttermilk (but not the sugar) in a jar with a tight-fitting lid and place it in a warm (70F to 80F) spot, such as the top of the refrigerator. Allow it to sit, undisturbed overnight or until thickened but still pourable. Chill it and it will become the consistency of sour cream

To use, add 1 tablespoon sugar for each cup of crème fraîche needed and whisk lightly by hand. Sweeten only the portion you plan to serve immediately.

Chocolate Crumb Crust: In a medium bowl, combine the crumbs, chocolate shavings, and salt (if using). Pour the butter over them. The butter will melt the chocolate into the chocolate crumbs. Stir well.

Press this mixture into a 9-inch pie pan, distributing the crumbs to form an 1/8-inch thick crust. Bake for 15 minutes at 350F. Cool completely before adding strawberries.

Strawberry Filling: To make the glaze, put the strawberries (use any especially ugly ones here in the sauce), orange juice, and zest in a saucepan over low heat. Simmer for 5 minutes and then mash the berries with the back of a spoon. Simmer the mixture on low, uncovered, for 15 minutes more, until the sauce resembles a saucy jam.

Combine the sugar and cornstarch in a bowl and whisk in the water gradually until smooth. Add this to the sauce and cook, stirring constantly, simmering over medium heat 1 to 2 minutes until it is boiling very lightly. When the opacity goes out of the sauce, and it looks shiny and steamy, remove it from the heat and whisk in the vinegar and salt. Chill the sauce until it is cool to the touch but not cold. (The temperature is important—the fresh strawberries will release lots of juice if they contact a hot or even warm sauce, and you'll get strawberry soup, not strawberry pie. If the sauce gets overly cold, it's hard to fold in the berries.)

Clean and trim the strawberries (if they are small, leave them whole; if they are large, halve or quarter them). Fold them into the cool sauce and pour it all into the chilled crust. The consistency will be quite thick. Chill for 2 hours to let it set up before serving.
Serve the pie cold with Crème Fraîche. This pie is best the day it is made, but can still be served the next day. Keep it refrigerated, loosely covered with plastic wrap.


  1. Excuuuuuuuuuuuuse me but I'm pretty sure my review was a lot more detailed and insightful than that. I'm pretty sure I used the words robust and confident. In light of March Madness, I may even call it a sleeper pie.

  2. You DID use the words "robust" and "confident"