(Modified from a Pillsbury Recipe found here.)
Heat oven to 350 degrees.
Prepare a crust for a 10” pie (1)
- 1½ cups biscuit or other light flour
- ¾ tsp salt (I used kosher salt, which I powdered using a mortar and pestle)
Mix in a cup
- 2 Tbsp very cold water and
- 2 Tbsp unflavored vodka (2) ( I used Sobieski.)
Turn dough ball out onto a tea towel lightly sprinkled with flour and powdered sugar. Flatten, then roll out gently into a circle 1” wider than the top diameter of your pie plate.
Use the tea towel and rolling pin to gently maneuver the crust into place inside a 10” glass pie plate. Form the edges of the crust however looks nice to you. Handle the crust minimally—pretend your hands are on fire and the crust is made of snow.
Create a foil shield for the crust: Roll out two sheets, ~18 inches each, of aluminum foil. Place the sheets at right angles to each other on a counter, and set the pie plate into the center of the foil sheets. Starting from the outside, bring the edges of the foil together, joining/rolling the edges as the pieces come closer together, making a circle of foil that rests above the top edges of the crust. This allows the shield to stay in place as the pie is filled, baked, moved, etc., and keeps the crust from overcooking later on. You can skip this step if you have a pie crust shield that fits your 10” pie plate.
Set the crust aside. If there is room, hold it in the fridge while you make the Chocolate Layer.
In a large bowl, combine
- A 10.25-oz. package of fudge brownie mix (these are usually in packets/pouches, not boxes—keep looking on the shelf—you’ll find one!),
- ¼ cup cooking oil,
- 2 Tbsp water, and
- 1 egg.
Spread over the bottom of the pie crust.
Put into your preheated oven. Bake at 350° for 30 to 35 minutes or until top is shiny and center is set.
Combine in a medium bowl:
- 1 (8-oz.) package cream cheese, softened (3)
- ¼ cup sugar,
- 1 teaspoon vanilla, and
- 1 egg.
When the chocolate layer is done, spoon the cream cheese mixture over the top of the pie, carefully spreading to cover.
Pull the foil shield back away from the crust edges—this will now allow them to brown.
Return pie to oven, bake 18-20 minutes until cream cheese layer is smooth.
Cool (I placed in fridge) at least 1 hour.
Strawberry Layer (4)
While the pie is cooling, slice 3 cups of fresh strawberries. Set aside 2 cups for topping and 1 cup for glaze.
Take one cup of the sliced strawberries, chop coarsely, and set into a small pan on the stove—set burner on low side of medium heat.
As strawberries start to sizzle, add slowly a mixture of
- 1 cup water, and
- 1 Tbsp cornstarch—shaken together to eliminate lumps.
Set a fine strainer over a bowl and transfer the thickened, lumpy glaze into it. Push the liquids into the bowl (assuming they don’t just drip in).
Stir the strained glaze into remaining two cups of strawberries. This keeps them fresher on the top of the pie. (5)
Assemble & Serve Pie
Spread glazed strawberries over the top of the cheesecake layer.
Top (as desired) with
• Heated hot fudge ice cream topping, (6) or
• Chocolate syrup, or
• Whipped cream, or
• Some combination (7)
Serve to guests who will be astonished when you cut into the pie and they see the chocolate layer.
Store any leftovers in refrigerator.
Not going to serve it right away? Here’s what Pillsbury recommends:
Prepare the pie and let it cool. Do not garnish it with the fudge or strawberries. Wrap it tightly and refrigerate it for up to three days, or freeze for up to two weeks. To thaw the frozen pie unwrap it and refrigerate it for two to three hours. Bring the pie to room temperature, decorate it with the fudge and strawberries, and serve.
(1) The recipe calls for a nine-inch pie—I don’t have any pie plates in that size. I’ve learned to go larger, to assure that the filling is cooked all the way through in the center.
(2) The vodka adds the moisture needed to form and roll out the dough. It also evaporates more quickly during cooking, which results in a flakier crust. Trust me on this one!
(3) The package instructions for softening state to microwave it for 10 seconds. I found it blended better after 20 seconds. Don’t use whipped or spreadable cream cheese.
(4) The Pillsbury website shows a lovely pie topped with strawberry halves. Make the pie this way if you are entering it into a contest. However, the reviewers on the website were pretty consistent in saying that the halved strawberries made the pie difficult to slice and serve and the pieces fell off of the pie during eating. I took the advice given to create the pie with sliced strawberries.
(5) Hold the remaining bits of cooked strawberries to add, a teaspoon or so at a time, to glasses of Prosecco or champagne.
(6) I tried piping melted mini Hershey’s kisses over the top. They came out too thick, and didn’t work well the next day after the pie had been refrigerated.
(7) I’d recommend the whipped cream. The pie isn’t as sweet as you might expect, and whipped cream, brownies, cheesecake and strawberries are a great combination.