Now that Charlotte Fresh has your attention, I will get to my original Oh-So-Good Chocolate Strawberry Pie recipe in a minute. Please indulge me; I want to mention something Chef Luca educated me about the other day – ramps.
No, not the kind you drive or bike on. These are the ramps that Luca was generous enough to share with me:
Ramps, also known as wild leeks, are essentially wild onions (allium tricoccum) that are not cultivated much. Seeds take up to 18 months to germinate and result in a ramp withing five to seven years; planting a large bulb can speed this up to three years before you get a harvestable ramp. Therefore, when they pop up in the spring, they’re considered a real treat.
Ramps are native to the eastern North American mountains and are collected from the moist, shady ground in late March and early April. Harvesters need to ensure that they are collected in sustainable quantities. Because cultivation does not really occur, and ramps are growing in popularity, N.C. State University is researching development of efficient and sustainable production practices for ramps.
Eaten raw, they taste/smell like a combo of onion and garlic. Eaten sauteed, the flavor becomes much milder. If you want to try them, head to Passion8 Bistro where Luca currently has them on the menu; they’ll be gone soon. Next year, check out the annual “Ramp It Up!” festival in Cherokee, NC or other ramp festivals around.
Okay, enough with the ramps.
On to the pie recipe. Friends say this pie tastes like a combo of mousse and cheesecake; who wouldn’t want that? I made this pie because I was inspired by my new friend Lell in Rock Hill whom I will write about very soon. I had a delicious filled cookie at her restaurant and decided to make a pie with a very similar filling. So visit her place, and thank Lell for sparking this idea.
For this no-bake (hooray!) pie, I used Cody Farm strawberries, fresh from the Matthews Farmers’ Market because I didn’t have time to go pick my own at Hall Family Farm. Cody’s berries are also very good. I did use the jam that hubby and I made from Hall’s berries as a glaze.
Fresh Recipe: Oh-So-Good Chocolate Strawberry Pie
- 1 box chocolate wafer cookies – you know, like the outside of a chocolate sandwich cookie (about 44 cookies)
- 1 & 1/2 sticks unsalted butter
- 2 & 1/2 C bittersweet chocolate chips
- 1/4 C brown sugar
- 1 & 1/2 C heavy cream, cold
- 16 oz. cream cheese, room temperature
- 1 tsp vanilla
- 3/4 lb. large to medium sized strawberries, halved – reserving 1 with crown for the center
- 1/4 C strawberry jam, melted to brushing consistency, but not hot
Pulverize chocolate wafers in a food processor. This will yield about 2 C of crumbs. Melt together in a large bowl the butter, 1/2 C bittersweet chocolate chips and the brown sugar until the sugar is dissolved. Stir evenly. Stir in the crushed wafers until well coated.
Pat the mixture evenly into a spring-form pan, tart pan or shallow pie pan. (I made the mistake of using a deep-dish pie pan which made serving difficult.) Chill crust for at least one hour or overnight.
Make a ganache by melting 2 C chocolate chips with 1 C heavy cream. Stir until smooth. Set aside to cool to room temperature. In a mixer, whip the cream cheese until you get soft peaks. Add vanilla and whip while slowly adding the ganache. Whip this entire mixture while adding 1/2 C cold heavy cream until you get medium-firm peaks but still a light texture. Spread the cream cheese mixture into the prepared crust and even it out.
Top with halved strawberries in a double circle pattern. Place the whole strawberry in the middle. Glaze with strawberry jam. Chill before serving.