Sunday, April 22, 2012

Strawberry Truffle Pie

One of the things I miss most about home is berry season. In the summer, from late June right through to September it's one after another - strawberries, raspberries, cherries, blueberries, and finally blackberries. I have memories of going strawberry picking as a family when I was really small, when my parents would dress me and my brother in our oldest clothes and let us loose in a strawberry field while they picked buckets and buckets of berries, then going home smeared in red and "helping" mom make jam all day. Of wandering out to the back garden in my bare feet and eating raspberries, blueberries, or cherries until I was about to burst. Of having to be careful when I was climbing the cherry trees in case the little family of raccoons was up there too! Of canning cherries for hours on end. Of eating fresh berries with vanilla ice cream for dessert every night. Of putting bag after bag of various kinds of berries in the freezer in a box marked "Beans" so my little brother wouldn't eat them all before winter even came. And of my little beagle, Nikki, who used to also eat raspberries straight off the bushes right alongside me!

Here in Hanoi the only berries we get are strawberries, and as I think I've mentioned before, they really aren't very good. However, sometimes you take what you can get! When I found a lady selling fresh strawberries fairly cheaply on the street, in what I thought wasn't strawberry season anymore, I had to buy some! And what better dish to make than my old strawberry-season favourite, Strawberry Truffle Pie.

I found this recipe years ago in a cooking magazine (I have no idea which one) that did a whole month's issue on chocolate. This was probably the first thing I made out of that magazine, and I was instantly in love. It's an amazingly delicious and yet simple pie, but the problem is that it's best in strawberry season at home, when I can get fresh, ridiculously sweet strawberries straight from the field. But I just couldn't resist this time. 

I started with a regular pie crust, using this recipe. I would normally use my Grandma's recipe, but it's HUGE and I just didn't have room in my freezer for all that extra dough!

I baked it for about 8-10 minutes and let it cool down.

While it was cooling, I melted some chocolate with some butter in the top of a double boiler, then added cream cheese and a bit of orange juice (you can use liqueur and it would be nice, but I didn't have any) and stirred until it was all smooth and creamy. Then I took it off the heat, added a bit of sifted powdered sugar, and poured it into the pie crust!

I washed a lot of strawberries...

...and started placing them on top of the chocolate, starting with the biggest ones.

Pile them up slowly and carefully, so that you have a nice even mound of strawberries on top.

Next I melted a bit of strawberry jam (the recipe actually calls for red currant jelly, but who has that just sitting around?) and carefully brushed it over the top of the strawberries to give them a shine.

Chill it in the fridge for about 4 hours and serve with whipped cream!

Here's a really terrible picture (I apologize) of a slightly fallen apart slice of it that I'm about to eat!

I LOVE this pie. I don't make it very often, because it MUST have the fresh berries, so every time I do I'm blown away once again at how delicious it is. It's so simple, but the way the creamy chocolate contrasts with the tangy, fresh berries and the flaky pie crust is just heavenly.

Strawberry Truffle Pie

1 cup (6oz) semisweet chocolate pieces
1 T butter (no subs)
1 8oz pkg cream cheese, softened
2 T orange liquer or juice
¼ c sifted powdered sugar
1 9 inch baked pie shell
1 lb whole fresh strawberries
2 T red currant jelly
½ c whipped cream – sweeten with powdered sugar

Combine chocolate and butter in a saucepan. Heat and stir over medium-low heat until melted. Add cream cheese and liqueur or juice. Heat and stir until blended. Remove from heat. Stir in the ¼ cup powdered sugar. Spread in baked pie shell. Arrange berries in chocolate filling. Melt jelly, brush over berries. Cover pie and chill 4 hours. Let stand at room temp before serving with whipped cream.

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