Friday, May 25, 2012

Strawberry en Aspic Pie Cup with Creme Fraiche

     Springtime is strawberry season!  There are strawberry harvest festivals going on worldwide.  At the strawberry festivals, there are usually strawberry recipe contests and the competition can be very fierce!
     Strawberry pie is usually the number one dessert at strawberry festivals.  The strawberry dessert recipe contest judges really have their hands full, because nearly every contestant enters a strawberry pie in the cook off.  A person would really have to like strawberry pie a whole lot, if they wished to be a judge at a strawberry festival dessert contest! 
     There are many variations of strawberry pie.  I personally only make two variations.  For one of my strawberry pies, I use a complex gelatin to make the glaze.  For the other strawberry pie that I make, I use a natural jelly pectin to make the glaze.  The flavor is nearly the same in both pies, but the gelatin pie has a firmer texture.  
     Today's blog recipe is for the complex gelatin style strawberry pie.  The strawberry flavor is extracted via minced strawberries being added to hot molten hard crack stage sugar.  This is the same technique that I use to make strawberry gastrique.  The molten sugar literally instantly pulls all of the strawberry color and flavor out of the minced strawberries, when the hot molten sugar seizes hard like candy after the strawberries are added.  Take care when using this method, because molten sugar can cause serious burns!

     Note:  This recipe makes only one individual strawberry pie portion!  I like the modern individual size desserts, because I personally cannot eat sweets more than once in a blue moon.  If you wish to make a full size strawberry pie, then multiply the recipes by 5 or 6.
     Pâte Brisée:
     This recipe yields enough pie dough for a sheet that measures between 15"x 15" to 20"x 20".  The size of the dough sheet depends on the thickness.  The volume of this single use portion recipe is easy to expand.  
     The object is to create a firm pliable dough that is not too soft and not too stiff.  The dough should be mixed and worked for a minimal amount of time, so the butter is not evenly incorporated in the dough.  If faint streaks of butter can be seen in the dough when it is rolled into a sheet, then the dough is perfect.  
     After mixing the ingredients, it is best to chill the dough to -41ºF, so the butter becomes stiff. If the dough becomes warm while rolling it into a sheet, the butter will not be distributed in thin layers between bits of damp flour.  
     After the dough sheet is rolled it should be chilled.  A chilled sheet of pie dough is much easier to work with.  
     Chilled lard can replace butter in this recipe.  
     Place 1 1/2 cups of bread flour in a mixing bowl.
     Add 1/2 teaspoon of sea salt.
     Add 3/4 tablespoon of sugar.
     Rice the flour by adding a few drops of ice water at a time while stirring with a whisk.  (The flour should look like grains of rice.)
     Cut 2 ounces of unsalted butter into pea size pieces and drop them in a bowl of ice water.
     Gently add a few pieces of the chilled hard butter at a time to the riced flour.
     Work the dough lightly with your fingers and for a minimal period of time leaving exposed small pieces of butter.
     Chill the dough, till it becomes very firm.
     Roll the pate brisee into a 3/16" thick sheet on a floured counter top.  (The sheet of pâte brisée should show streaks of butter!  This is what will give the pate brisee a flakey crusty texture.)
     Refrigerate the sheet of pâte brisée, till it becomes firm again.
     Any extra pâte brisée can be refrigerated for 7 days or frozen for later use.
     Individual Strawberry Pie Cup:
     Lightly brush a 5" wide pop-ring mold with unsalted butter
     Cut a 10" circle out of the pate brisee sheet.
     Fold the dough in half and then into quarters.
     Place the point of the folded dough into the pop-ring mold.
     Unfold the dough sheet.
     Gently press the dough sheet into place, inside the mold.
     Drape the excess dough over the edges of the mold.
     Roll a rolling pin over top of the rim of the mold to pinch and cut off the excess dough.
     Pull the excess dough away and save it for another use.
     Fill the uncooked pie dough cup with small dried beans.
     Place the mold on a baking pan.
     Bake in a 375 degree oven, till the pate brisee turns a golden brown color.
     Let the baked pie shell cool.
     Carefully remove the beans from the pie shell.
     Carefully pop the pop-ring loose.
     Un-mold the baked pie shell and set it on a dessert plate.
     Set the pie shell where it cannot be damaged. 

     Strawberry en Aspic Pie Filling: 
     Boil 1 cup water in a small stainless steel sauce pot over high heat.
     Add 1/4 cup of sugar.
     Cook the sugar water, till the water evaporates and the sugar enters the candy stages.
     Cook the sugar till it reaches the hard crack stage of 300 degrees to 310 degrees.  (Use a candy thermometer!)
     Immediately add 5 or 6 minced strawberries.
     Do not stir or shake the pot!  Allow the molten sugar to seize the strawberries.
     As soon as the sugar frees up and start to boil again,  add 2 ounces of pino grigio white wine.
     Add 6 ounces of water.
     Add 1 tiny pinch of sea salt.
     Add 1 very tiny pinch of allspice.
     Add 1 very tiny pinch of cinnamon.
     Reduce the temperature to low heat.
     Simmer and reduce for 5 minutes.
     Read the direction on your choice of gelatin.
     Measure enough gelatin to firmly gel 8 to 9 ounces of liquid.
     Bloom the gelatin with a tiny splash of water in a small cup.
     Add the bloomed gelatin to the hot strawberry syrup while stirring.
     Simmer till the gelatin shows signs of activating.
     Pour the  Strawberry Pie Gelatin Filling through a fine mesh strainer into a cup.
     Press as much of the strawberry pulp through the strainer as possible.
     Keep the  Strawberry Pie Gelatin Filling warm on a stove top.

     Strawberry en Aspic Pie Cup:
     Cut the tops off of 1 handful of ripe strawberries.
     Place a few of the strawberries on the bottom of the pie shell cup.
     Fill the rest of the pie shell cup up with slices strawberries.
     Place a few strawberry skin slice on top, so the pie looks nice.
     Slowly pour the warm strawberry gelatin pie filling over the strawberries and into the pie shell, till the pie shell becomes full to the brim.
     Set the dessert plate and strawberry pie in a refrigerator.
     Chill the pie, till the gelatin filling becomes firm and set

     Creme Fraiche:
     Whisk 2 ounces of cream in a small mixing bowl, till stiff peaks appear.
     Add 1 1/2 ounces of sour cream.
     Whisk the ingredients together, till they combine.
     Chill the creme fraiche in a refrigerator.

     Strawberry en Aspic Pie Cup with Creme Fraiche:
     Place the dessert plate with the strawberry pie on a counter top.
     Use two small spoons to form a creme fraiche quenelle.
     Place the creme fraiche quenelle on top of the strawberry pie.
     Garnish the creme fraiche quenelle with a few chiffonade slices of lemon zest.

     If you have dessert making experience, then this recipe is easy as pie!  This strawberry pie is well worth the effort to make.  The aspic is full of bright crisp strawberry flavor and it is not overly sweet.  This is a good tasting individual size strawberry aspic pie!  Yum!  ...  Shawna

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