Monday, September 28, 2009

Black Bottom Strawberry Pie

I just have one question: Why is Chocolate Strawberry pie (of some form) not something I've EVER seen? I mean, who doesn't like strawberries and chocolate together? Nobody, that's who (or maybe a few people, but WHAT'S WRONG WITH YOU?!). Okay, technically that was...three questions.

Seriously though, this is the best pie I've made. So declares everyone in my household. Seconda tried for a minute to whine about how she doesn't really like strawberries in pie (because they're "mushy" and also because it's just her thing these days to complain about anything that shows up on a plate in front of her--except ramen), but then she proceeded to scarf down every crumb of her piece. And I really don't understand why people don't make strawberry pies with chocolate. So, now I have. And now you can too.

Black Bottom Strawberry Pie *click here for printable version*
adapted from Bon Appetit November 1991 (Black Bottom Banana Cream) and The Fine Fettle Kettle


One pre-baked 9" pie crust

6 ounces bittersweet (not unsweetened) or semisweet chocolate, chopped
3/8 cup whipping cream
3 T unsalted butter

3 cups of halved (or sliced smaller) fresh strawberries
1/2 cup sugar
3 T cornstarch
1/2 cup water
2 tsp. fresh lemon juice

extra chocolate for drizzle garnish (if desired)

For Ganache:
Stir bittersweet chocolate, whipping cream and unsalted butter in heavy small saucepan over low heat until chocolate and butter melt and mixture is smooth. Spoon ganache into prepared crust. Spread ganache with back of spoon to cover crust bottom completely. Let stand until ganache is cool but not set, about 20 minutes.

For Filling:
Hand purée 1-1/2 cups of strawberries (leave them pretty chunky). Mix with sugar, water and cornstarch and cook in a saucepan over medium-high heat until thickened. Add lemon juice. Place remaining 1-1/2 cups of fresh strawberries on top of ganache.

Top with cooked puréed strawberries. Chill for several hours until cold.

Top with whipped cream.

To decorate the top of the pie with chocolate: After topping the ganache and strawberries with strawberry puree, chill the pie for 30 minutes. Melt a small amount of bittersweet or semisweet chocolate and drizzle over the top. Chill for several more hours.

A ridiculously delicious pie. This isn't exactly how I made it. The recipe reflects some changes I made after making and eating it. I realized when I tasted it that the balance was a little off in favor of the strawberry. Unfortunately, I probably won't get a chance to experiment with these new proportions until next Spring or Summer, so you need to! And then post about how it turns out.

TGIP Rating--Black Bottom Strawberry Pie--KEEPER!! Next time use high quality bittersweet chocolate. Just because.

Next up: The Priestess posted a recipe for Butter Top Wheat Rolls. I'm making them with soup. Yum.

Thursday, September 24, 2009

Midweek Kitchen Confessions 22: A Treat

I bought myself a treat. A little something to reward myself for all the hard work I do on this blog.

And maybe sometime in the not so distant future I'll bake something from it. And you'll get a treat too!

P.S. Check out all my printable recipes. Little by little I've been transferring them to Google Documents, which should make them much easier to print, etc. They should all be done by sometime tomorrow. And let me know if any of the links don't work.

Friday, September 18, 2009

Midweek Kitchen Confessions 21: I'm not baking...

...this week. I'm doing this instead. Some weeks...there's just waaayy too much going on for me to find the time to bake. Trust me, it hurts me more than it hurts you.

So, in honor of my theatre "career" and my baking "career" and the rare occasion when the two intersect, I give you a short exchange from a play by David Mamet called "Boston Marriage". Not the best play I've ever read, but worth the read (for me anyway) if only for this vignette.

ANNA: Yes, this shall be our party. And we must have a pie. Stress cannot exist in the presence of a pie.

CLAIRE: A pie.

ANNA: It casts out stress as the heat of the hand repels quicksilver. Faugh I say. Faugh. Keep you your precious vapors, your fantods, your anxiety. Give me a pie. Give me a pie anyday.

CLAIRE: Give me a pie, too. But...

ANNA: For there is that of the bucolic in it. Is there not? The pie, the cottage, the...

CLAIRE: The hearth, finally.

ANNA: Little Nell. Nell or Molly.

CLAIRE: Young...

ANNA: That's right.

CLAIRE: Young Susan. Her brown arms shapely from the work of the fields. One wisp of her...

ANNA: Dark blond hair.

CLAIRE: If you will, come down on her eyes. Brushed back with the flour-covered forearm. As she kneads the dough we may see the tendons now assemble now disperse beneath the nut-brown skin. She looks up. "I'm making a pie." (Pause.)

ANNA: Do you mock me?

CLAIRE: I am concocting a seduction. I do not require a ttissière. (Pause.)

On that last note, I have to say, I differ. One does sometimes require a pâttissière when one is concocting a seduction.

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Homemade Mini Marshmallows

Yes, I've made them before. Memory is not my friend sometimes. In my defense, they weren't MINI marshmallows, they were a completely different beast; chocolate-covered marshmallow Easter eggs. So. Right, thin excuse.

At any rate, my penance shall be to give you not one, but two treasured family recipes.

But first, these marshmallows. I was going to use the recipe in BAKED, but it called for gelatin sheets. I'm sure one could find them, as they suggest, in a specialty shop. But I don't think we have any of them newfangled things out here in the Wild West. And, as usual, I didn't think far enough in advance to order from someplace online. Ah well, lucky me, Alton Brown has a homemade marshmallow recipe that uses packaged gelatin--which--I have! AND, he gives instructions on how to make them mini. Super easy. I think maybe I beat the mixture a little too long and let it get a litte bit too cool. When I finally decided to take it out and pipe it into strips it was extraordinarily sticky. I don't have a 1/2 inch round piping tip, so I figured I would just put it all in a big Ziploc bag and cut the very corner as a piping tip. Sticky sticky sticky mess. I got 3 or 4 strips piped on each of 3 pans and still had quite a bit of the mixture left but it had started exploding through self-made holes in the seams of the bag and I was utterly glued to the bag. So I figured what I had piped to that point was sufficient. I also had to make at least 3 times the amount of cornstarch/confectioners' sugar mixture in order to have enough to sprinkle over all the pans and then sprinkle over the piped marshmallow strips.

AND, I completly forgot to add the vanilla. BUT, all of this was really no big deal. I would still do this again in a second. BECAUSE. Homemade marshmallows are far, FAR superior to that storebought nonsense. I used them in homemade Rocky Road ice cream (there's a fascinating story on that link-click on it!).

And ate some just as they were. And put some in hot cocoa.

And yum, YUM, YUM!

And, by way of penance:

2 eggs
1-1/4 c. sugar
2-1/4 c. milk (I use whole milk)
2-1/4 c. heavy cream
1/2 T vanilla
1/8 t. salt
4 T cocoa stirred into 1/4+1/8 c. hot water

Beat eggs until fluffy.
Add sugar gradually, beating until thick.
Add remaining ingredients and mix thoroughly.

Freeze in home ice cream freezer according to instructions.

For Rocky Road Ice Cream:

Toast and cool 1 c. chopped almonds and stir into frozen ice cream along with at least 1 c. homemade mini marshmallows (honestly, put in as much of both of these as you like--depending on how rocky you like your road to be).

You may notice that I don't cook the ingredients and make a custard before freezing. This is the recipe my family has been using since I was a kid and nobody, NOBODY has ever gotten sick from the raw eggs. So, take from that what you will.


Marshmallow Eggs *click here for printable version*
(makes approx. 15-20 eggs)

6 T cold water
2 packages plain gelatin
1/2 c. water
1-1/2 c. sugar
1 t. vanilla (or other flavoring as desired)
dash salt
Food coloring (as desired)

1 hard cooked egg with shell left on
some flour in a large pan

Soften gelatin in 6 T cold water.

Put sugar and 1/2 c. water in saucepan and bring to a full boil. Remove from heat. Add gelatin and stir until dissolved. Let cool until just barely warm. Beat with electric beater for about 15 minutes (usually it doesn't take this long if the mixture isn't too warm). Mixture should look like whipped cream when done. Add salt, flavoring and coloring (if using). Fill a large dripper pan (what is a dripper pan, anyway?) with 1 to 2 inches of flour. Make egg shaped depressions by pressing the hard cooked egg as deep as possible in the flour. These holes should be about 1/2 inch apart. With a spoon, heap each hole with the marshmallow mixture, rounding the tops as much as possible. Place pan in refrigerator. When set, remove eggs. Shake off excess flour. Roll eggs in powdered sugar or dip in chocolate.

This is a recipe my mother has used for years and years and years. The version that I have was typed and, I think, mimeographed for distribution. I have made these a couple of times before, dipped in chocolate and then piped flowers on with Royal Icing once the chocolate is set. They're pretty and perfect for Easter.


TGIP Rating--Homemade Mini Marshmallows--KEEPER.

Next up: Geeze, I've got so many things I want to try...I have leftover pie crust in my fridge that probably needs to be used soon. I'll take a pass at Black-Bottom Strawberry Pie.

Monday, September 7, 2009

Blog-i-versary Strawberry Pie

So, a year ago today I embarked on a pie journey. The first pie I made was a fresh strawberry pie. It was delicious, but the crust gave me (and The Pie Queen) fits. In the year since then I have learned a lot about pie crust and even more about baking in general.

I decided that in celebration of my blog-i-versary I would make another Fresh Strawberry Pie--one with oomph. mr. wanted me to incorporate I used Dave Latour's recipe for strawberry pie. Which is perfectly delicious.

But instead of using halved strawberries and pouring the puree over them, I poured the puree into the pie crust and then arranged chocolate-dipped strawberries in it (after it had cooled a little).

Then after that had cooled a lot more, I drizzled chocolate over the whole thing.

Pretty, eh? And also delicious. But very difficult to serve. As one might have realized if one (I) had been thinking ahead. The hardened chocolate doesn't really like to be cut into. I guess if you arranged the strawberries just so it would work better, but...again with the thinking ahead.

Still. I am determined to work dark chocolate into a strawberry pie. I'm thinking I might do a black-bottom strawberry pie, using the ganache I used here. And then using the halved strawberries and puree according to Dave's recipe. And then drizzling with dark chocolate. My baking consultant (mr.) helped me think this through. When I was then approached with the possibility of entering one of my pies in a pie contest, I asked mr. "Which pie do you think is my best?" His response: "The one we just talked about. When you make it." So, I'll get on that. And make sure it's as perfect as expected.

TGIP Rating--Chocolate-Covered Fresh Strawberry Pie--needs tweaking, but the concept is good.

Next up: I report on making Homemade Marshmallows. Which, it turns out, I've made before. Memory loss is a magical thing--every day is exciting and new!

P.S. Please revisit my Shoo-Fly Pie blog post. I've added a treasured picture of Grandpa Baker.