Recipe Makeover: Strawberry Chocolate Mousse Pie

“I’ll bring a dessert.”

A lovely couple from our church invited our family over for dinner for the first time. The wife didn’t want us to bring anything other than ourselves, but I knew from experience that if I didn’t bring a dessert, my family probably wouldn’t be eating any since most people didn’t really know how to cook for someone with multiple food allergies.

As the family and I discussed what we should make, my middle child – who is a confirmed chocoholic –  said that it should be something chocolaty. My son asked if it could be something fruity. My oldest suggested that it be simple. My husband, per usual, said it should be a pie.

Armed with all these thoughts, I went online and found a recipe title which sounded great: Chocolate Strawberry Oasis Pie from loveandoliveoil.com. When I looked it up, it was essentially a chocolate cream pie with strawberries – quite doable and fitting all the above parameters.

The recipe, however, needed some tweaking if our family was going to be able to eat it. It wasn’t made for someone with allergies, and the caloric and fat counts were rather high. So, I set to work doing a recipe makeover, and the results are below.

Original Recipe:

For Crust:
Nonstick vegetable oil spray
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter
1 ounce bittersweet (not unsweetened) or semisweet chocolate, chopped
7 ounces chocolate wafer cookies (about 30 cookies)
1 pint strawberries, trimmed and halved

For Filling:
2/3 cup sugar
1/4 cup cornstarch
2 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
Pinch of salt
6 large egg yolks
2 1/2 cups whole milk
6 ounces bittersweet (not unsweetened) or semisweet chocolate, chopped
1/2 tablespoon bourbon
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

Read more at http://www.loveandoliveoil.com/2012/04/chocolate-strawberry-oasis-pie.html

The Makeover:

The Crust:  The crust needed to be allergy friendly, so the first thing I did was to substitute the chocolate wafers with a gluten, dairy, nut free version. When I was at the store, I actually found a brand of allergy friendly mini chocolate cookies which came in a 7 ounce bag, so I purchased a bag and used my food processor to grind the cookies into cookie crumbs.

For the 1 ounce chocolate, I substituted 1 tbsp of Enjoy Life mini chocolate chips which are free of just about every allergen out there.

For the butter, since it was going to be melted, I went ahead and used safflower oil instead so we’d get those good fats instead of the bad, and instead of using a vegetable oil spray, I simply brushed a tiny amount of safflower oil onto my pie pan.

The Chocolate Cream:  For the filling, I decided that I’d use Agave so I could reduce the “sugar” a bit by halving the amount, which also decreased some of the calories in the pie.

For the cocoa powder, I substituted a Special Dark unsweetened cocoa powder, because it has a deeper flavor which allowed me to reduce the 6 ounces of chocolate to 3 ounces, which cut back on more of the fat and calories. I used the Enjoy Life dark chocolate bar as an allergy friendly substitute for the chocolate called for in the recipe. (Note: I made a second pie where I used an unsweetened chocolate soy milk, omitted the cocoa powder altogether and just added the 3 ounces of chocolate at the end. This worked well, too.)

Now came the tricky part. This recipe called for 6 egg yolks which seemed a bit excessive. It makes for a really rich cream, yes, but if you’re trying to watch your cholesterol, it’s not the greatest. Since most recipes call for one to two egg yolks per cup of milk, I reduced the yolks to 4, since this would keep some of that yummy creaminess while reducing some of the fat and cholesterol.

For the whole milk, I used an unsweetened soy milk which reduced the fat and calories while also adding protein and being more dairy-allergy friendly. Since I was using Agave, I reduced the amount to 2 cups, too. If someone is allergic to soy, using an almond milk or a flax milk would work just as well.  If someone wanted to use rice milk, I’d suggest using the original amount of egg yolks or whisking in a tablespoon of allergy friendly flour per cup of rice milk so the cream will actually be thick.

As for the rest of the filling recipe, I omitted the bourbon altogether and decided that a pinch was probably about 1/8 tsp. Since I liked the addition of ginger and nutmeg, I kept that, as well as the vanilla.

The Strawberries:  The original recipe called for 1 pint of strawberries, halved. I opted to slice the strawberries into four thinner slices so the layers would be flat on the bottom of the crust. I also doubled the amount of strawberries to two pints so I could put a layer on the bottom as the recipe called for, but also on the top instead of topping it with whipped cream, which cut out a few more calories and fat. To preserve the strawberries on top, I lightly brushed a small amount of melted Polaner All-fruit over the tops of the strawberries.

The Cooking:  The final change I made to the recipe was how the filling was cooked. The original recipe called for mixing everything in a saucepan and cooking it directly on the stove top.  As I’ve discussed in the post for puddings, which is essentially what we’re making here, it’s always best to make a chocolate cream filling over a double boiler. You reduce the risk of accidentally burning your pudding, which definitely would not be a good thing! In addition, if you put plastic wrap up against the cream while it’s cooling, it won’t create that film which is unappetizing to look at and taste.

The Verdict:  We took the two pies to the lunch and shared it with three couples, who all agreed that it was rich, chocolately, and delicious!

New Recipe:  Strawberry Chocolate Cream Pie

Ingredients:

For Crust:
6 tablespoons safflower oil
1 tbsp Enjoy Life mini chocolate chips
7 ounces dairy, gluten, nut free chocolate wafer cookies (about 30 cookies)
1 pint strawberries, trimmed and sliced into fourths lengthwise, not as quarters

For Filling:
1/3 cup Agave
1/4 cup cornstarch
2 tablespoons Special Dark unsweetened cocoa powder*
1/4 teaspoon ground ginger
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/8 tsp salt
4 egg yolks
2 cups unsweetened soy milk
3 ounces Enjoy Life dark chocolate bar
1 teaspoon vanilla extract

For Topping:

Small amount of Strawberry Polaner All-Fruit

1 pint strawberries, trimmed and sliced into fourths lengthwise, not as quarters

Cooking Instructions:

1. Lightly coat a 9-inch pie dish with safflower oil.

2. Heat the safflower oil mixed with the chocolate chips for 20 to 30 seconds, and stir until smooth.

3. Finely grind cookies in processor. Add chocolate mixture and process until crumbs are evenly moistened.

4. Press crumb mixture into prepared pie dish. Freeze until firm, about 30 minutes.

5. Arrange half of the strawberry slices in a single layer on the bottom of the crust.

6. Bring water to a boil in a small saucepan which your cooking pan can stably be on top of or fit into.

7. Whisk the agave, cornstarch, cocoa powder, spices, and salt in the cooking saucepan.

8. Beat the egg yolks and whisk them into the filling mixture.

9. Gradually whisk in the soy milk.

10. Cook the filling on top of the makeshift double boiler until the mixture thickens.  When I made it, it only took about five minutes to begin to thicken.

11. Remove the pan from the heat, and whisk in the chocolate until smooth. Then whisk in the vanilla.

12. Cool 5 minutes, stirring frequently.

13. Carefully spoon the filling over the strawberries until the cream is level with the top edge of the crust .

14. Place plastic wrap directly against the cream to prevent a “film” from forming. Chill for an hour.

15. Remove the plastic wrap and layer the remaining strawberry pieces on top of the cream. Brush the strawberries with the melted Polaners All Fruit.

16. Chill the pie until ready to serve.

* If using unsweetened chocolate soy or almond or other milk, omit the cocoa powder.

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