Strawberry Forest Pie

Time 2 hours
Yields Serves 8
Strawberry Forest Pie, with jammy strawberries on the bottom, chocolate pudding above, topped with whipped cream.
Tart, early-season strawberries replace cherries in this creamy, chocolaty pie.
(Silvia Razgova / For The Times)
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Tart, early-season strawberries replace cherries in this creamy and cold “Black Forest” pie. The jammy berries add brightness to the rich chocolate pudding layer above, while the cream layer offers a reprieve from the intense flavors below. This pie uses gelatin and cornstarch to set the cream layer so that it slices cleanly and evenly with each serving. Serve this pie chilled with extra fresh strawberries on the side, if you like.

For the crust:
For the strawberry layer:
For the chocolate pudding layer:
For the cream layer:

Make the crust: Heat the oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, add the cracker crumbs, sugar, cocoa powder, salt and butter, and mix with your fingers until evenly combined. Transfer the mixture to a 9-inch metal pie pan and press evenly into the bottom and sides of the pan. Bake until darkened a shade lighter at the edges, about 10 minutes. Transfer the crust to a wire rack and let cool while you make the strawberry layer.


Make the strawberry layer: Combine the strawberries, sugar and salt in a small saucepan. Place over medium heat, cover and cook, stirring every minute or so, until the strawberries have mostly collapsed, there are no rigidly solid pieces left and there is plenty of syrup around them, about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, stir together the cornstarch and water. Pour the cornstarch slurry into the berries, and continue cooking until the liquid thickens (some of the berries will break down into the syrup), about 1 minute. Remove the pan from the heat, and stir in the vanilla. Scrape the strawberries into the pie crust and spread into an even layer. Let cool while you make the chocolate pudding layer.


Make the chocolate pudding layer: In a small saucepan, whisk together the sugar and cornstarch, then mix in the egg yolks. Add the milk, and stir until smooth. Place the pan over medium heat and cook, stirring constantly, until the pudding begins bubbling, about 4 minutes, then keep cooking, stirring constantly, until the pudding is thick, about 1 minute more. Remove the pan from the heat, and stir in the chocolate and butter until both are melted and smooth. Stir in the vanilla and salt, then scrape the chocolate pudding over the strawberry layer. Spread into an even layer and let cool completely.


Make the cream layer: Sprinkle the gelatin over the 2 tablespoons milk in a bowl; let sit until gelatin softens, about 5 minutes. Whisk together the sugar and cornstarch in a small saucepan, then add the remaining 1/2 cup milk and place over medium heat. Cook, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens to the consistency of very thick pudding, 4 to 5 minutes, then remove the pan from the heat, and stir in the gelatin mixture until it dissolves fully. Scrape the gelatin mixture into a large bowl and let cool, stirring occasionally, to room temperature.


In a medium bowl, whisk the cream and vanilla until stiff peaks form. Add one-third of the whipped cream to the gelatin mixture, and stir until smooth. Add the remaining whipped cream, and gently fold with a rubber spatula until evenly combined. Scrape the whipped cream over the chocolate layer, and smooth the top. Cover loosely with plastic wrap, and refrigerate for at least 4 hours or overnight.


When ready to serve, sprinkle the top with chocolate shavings and/or ground freeze-dried strawberries. Serve immediately while chilled.