Being an adult is hard. Being an adult in New York City is like Double Double, Animal Style hard – awesome, amazing, but holy hell does it challenge and overwhelm you. (Yeah, I’m another East Coast resident slightly obsessed with In n Out and insisted on using that phrase even if it didn’t make sense.) Lately, I ‘ve had some realizations… And stuff. In the middle of a real doozy of a week, my roommate B came to the rescue. She’s amazing as it is, as a friend, confidante, therapist. But, in simple terms, last week she went above and beyond the call of duty for me when I felt like I was scrambling around like a kid. As I was commuting to work that day, it dawned on me. Pie. B deserves pie. I already wanted to make something for the #pieparty. But now it was clear – this pie was all about HER.
When it comes to edibles, she reaches for cheese, cold cuts or pickles first, before cakes and cookies. [Although, living with me has turned her to the sweet tooth dark side.] She’s a chocoholic, the darker the better please, and a fan of crunchy, toasty things – walnuts, peanuts, cashews, oh and browned butter! But, the list of fruits she enjoys is… Particular. And short.
Lucky for me, she adores strawberries. And guess who just went berry picking! Her love of chocolate covered strawberries is also well-known with our friends. Our friend J made choc strawberries for a mutual friend’s housewarming. When B & I moved in together & started planning a housewarming party, J had no choice in the potluck. Bring the strawberries or don’t show up!
Thus my mission was obvious – chocolate covered strawberry pie. Just drizzling chocolate over a strawberry pie seemed like a poor excuse for the decadence associated with pie. The chocolate needed to be rich, dense, truffle-like. And then there was a mostly full sleeve of graham crackers impatiently going stale in my pantry. Oh, and those berries I picked? A fair amount were tiny, a bit tart, picked from the vine early. All I wanted to do was pile a pie high with the berries, fresh and unobstructed. A fresh strawberry pie topping seemed to make sense, where I could make the sauce from bigger bruised berries, and keep those baby berries their purest. Oh and barely sweetened whipped cream. Lots of it. It had to happen.
Can I tell you, for a dessert whose techniques often scare me [and many other competent bakers], the fact that I was making up things as I went along would have normally freaked me out. Except, this is the entire reason behind the internet gathering known as the Pie Party. Gluten-Free Girl and a few other food bloggers were tweeting about pie, and it spawned this e-vent. To embrace homemade pie. Pie is good. It should not scare you. You [yes, YOU] should make it.
Did your crust split? Slap some extra dough on top and fix it. Did that butter melt too fast? Keep it going and brown it. Is your filling runny? Serve it in a bowl. Lap it up. Did you run out of graham crackers? Add some ground oats. Make it work. Too hot to turn on the oven? Give your toaster oven a spin. [This pie baked up in my toaster oven!] Read this post. Take a breath. Embrace the unexpected. Understand that imperfections do not equal failure. Surprise someone you love with pie, to say thank you or I’m sorry or hey, it’s Tuesday! Because really, any excuse is the right one to make pie.
Chocolate Covered Strawberry Pie
For the Graham-Oat Crust
- 5 tbsp browned butter
- 1 cup graham cracker crumbs
- 1/2 cup ground oats
- 1/8 tsp salt
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Butter a 9- to 9 1/2-inch pie plate.
- Combine all ingredients in a bowl and stir to combine.
- Pour into the pie plate and press evenly on bottom and up side of pie plate.
- Bake until crisp, 15 minutes, then cool on a rack to room temperature, at least 30 minutes.
For the Chocolate Filling
- 7 oz bittersweet chocolate [not over 70% cacao], chopped
- 1 cup heavy cream
- 1 egg, room temperature
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/4 tsp salt
- Preheat oven to 350°F.
- Put chocolate in a medium bowl. Iin a heavy saucepan, bring the cream to just barely a boil, then pour hot cream over chocolate.
- Let the combination sit for 1 minute, then whisk together until the chocolate is melted and mixture is smooth.
- Whisk in egg, vanilla and salt until combined and pour into your crust (the pan will be about half full).
- Bake until filling is softly set, about 25-30 minutes.
- Cool pie on a rack, about 1 hour.
- Lightly cover and move to the refrigerator to cool for at least one additional hour.
For the Strawberry Topping
- 3.5 cups strawberries
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 1 tbsp cornstarch
- 1/8 tsp salt
- 1 tsp lemon juice
- Separate your berries - you need 1 cup of berry puree. So pull out your bruised and ugly berries for this.
- If the remaining berries are on the larger side, slice or quarter. If they're small, don't bother cutting them.
- In a food processor, blender, or with an immersion blender, puree the berries with the sugar, cornstarch and salt.
- Put the berry puree into a small saucepan on medium heat. Cook for 5 minutes, stirring frequently. The mixture will thicken to a custard-like consistency and lose the raw cornstarch flavor.
- Remove the pan from the stove, stir in the lemon juice and let cool for five minutes.
- Pour the puree on top of your completely cold chocolate pie. If the puree doesn't spread naturally to cover to the edges of the pie, use a spatula to gently do so.
- In an organized fashion [or completely unorganized mess], place your fresh berries on top of the puree. Cover every inch possible with berries!
- Cool for 2-3 hours. [Yes, you must!]
Slice, serve with a mountain of whipped cream, and enjoy!
Oh, and for anyone that’s curious, B loved it. Mission: Accomplished.