A blind baked pie or tart crust is another basic technique of pastry. Essentially it is a baked crust with no filling in it. While not difficult, a few pointers will give you a perfect crust every time. While these pointers will apply to any crust, the one I have used is mine. I have no idea why it is referred to as blind baked. So if anyone knows, please tell me.
While we no longer have Big Boy restaurants in my area, I, like Rose Levy Beranbaum, remember their strawberry pie. I would rather have eaten that than anything else I can remember at the time. It was a simple pie consisting of a baked pie shell into which fresh strawberries were placed standing up and the whole was covered with a sweet, shiny glaze. I swear I can still taste it.
Well, last week, my TV producer emailed me and asked me if the segment on Mexican Street Corn salad I had planned for this Tuesday could be changed because someone had appeared and done their segment on Mexican Street Corn. I’ll let you in on a little secret – Friday’s are not my best day. After pastry cheffing for a week, teaching, blogging for a magazine,, testing for my blog and books, etc. I am pretty pooped by Friday afternoons. My initial reaction wasn’t the best. Thankfully, no one knows your reaction to an email unless you tell them, which I didn’t!
It must have been on my mind when I went to sleep because I woke up in a few hours and started thinking about what I could do. Since we also supply photography of the finished dish, it had to be something easy and fast to make. I have no idea why this strawberry pie came to mind. Knowing the recipe has been kicking around for a while, I wanted to do something a bit different but just as easy and good. I love chocolate covered strawberries. We made a lot of them for our wedding clientele – usually in the form of tuxedo strawberries like the ones on the wedding cake in the slideshow on the header for this blog. In fact, when I had the bakery, my staff knew to make six extra chocolate covered strawberries for me. One of the perks of owning your own business!
So that was it, a Chocolate Strawberry Pie! I used my favorite chocolate almond ganache because it is easy to coat fruit with it. The rest was simple. The blind baked crust is covered with a thin layer of the ganache to prevent the cut strawberries from making the crust soggy. The crust is refrigerated briefly to set up the ganache.
The tops of the strawberries are cut flat to sit well in the crust. After packing the crust with the upside down strawberries, the ganache is simply spooned over them encapsulating the strawberries completely. At this point the pie is refrigerated to set up the ganache. However it is important to let the pie come to room temperature before serving for the best taste.
I dripped the chocolate ganache onto the shell in a few places as I was covering the strawberries. Not too attractive for the photo. By refrigerating the pie the ganache firmed up and it was easy to remove the drips without marring the crust. This goes under food styling tricks.
When I did this for TV, one of the hosts commented on how popular he would be if he brought this to a 4th of July party. After a brief moment, he rethought the idea fearing he would have to bring it for the rest of his life because it is that good.
I am happy to bring you this Chocolate Strawberry Pie which is so very easy and so very, very good!
Chocolate Strawberry Pie
1 9” single pie shell
1 Quart Fresh Strawberries
Blind Baked Pie Shell
Before you start, make sure your pie pan can go from the freezer to a hot oven.
Roll the pie crust into a 12 inch round. Place it in the pie pan and trim the overhang so it is even all the way around. I do this with scissors as it is easier than a knife. Turn the overhang under and crimp to make a decorative finish. Freeze the shell for about 10 to 15 minutes until hard.
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees.
Spray a piece of foil larger than the crust. Place it in the pie shell, sprayed side down, to fit snuggly. Pour in beans or pie weights to the top of the shell. This will keep the crust from shrinking and/or sliding down in the pan while it is setting.
Bake for 20 minutes with the beans. Remove the beans by bringing the four corners of the foil together and lifting it out. Return to the oven and bake for approximately 15 to 18 minutes more until lightly browned and completely baked. Cool completely.
Chocolate Almond Ganache
8 ounces semisweet chocolate (225 grams)
10 tablespoons butter (150 grams or 5 1/3 ounces)
1 tablespoon light corn syrup
1/2 teaspoon almond extract
Place all the ingredients in the top of a double boiler over simmering water. Stir until melted. Alternately, place all the ingredients in a microwave bowl and microwave on half power for about 3 minutes. Whisk gently until smooth. Don’t be too aggressive as you don’t want air bubbles in the finished ganache.It may need additional time depending upon the power of the microwave. Give it short bursts at half power at this point.
Cut the tops off the strawberries so they are flat. If the strawberries are assorted sizes (as they usually are), cut the tops off deeper so they will all be about the same height in the shell. This should be within reason. Do not find the smallest strawberry and cut them all that size. Set aside.
Line the pie shell with the strawberries so they are touching starting at the outer edge of the crust with the largest berries and move in to the center. Spoon the chocolate over the strawberries. Refrigerate to set up.
Bring to room temperature to serve but store in the refrigerator.