November 23, 2009

Canadian Thanksgiving... over a month late

I'm sorry it's been so long. This semester has been riddled with bad luck accompanied by stress. First I found a member of my family is very ill, then I fell off a horse and injured my tail bone and hip, then I pinched my sciatic nerve as a result of limping from the injured hip, as soon as that got better I rolled my ankle really badly and sprained it, and that only really started getting better a few weeks ago, and last week I had the worst cold I've had in years which kept me in bed for days straight. And through all that I either haven't felt like or haven't been able to bake or cook much out of the ordinary, day-to-day sustenance.
But Anders and I did make a small Thanksgiving dinner together and I took photos. We had been at my cousin's wedding the day before and neither of us were able to spend Thanksgiving day with out families, so we made a small dinner together. Now, Canadian Thanksgiving was over a month ago, but since American Thanksgiving is coming up, I thought I'd finally post about it!

Here's what our little table looked like. Delicious!

This is Anders' plate, complete with turkey (I don't eat meat).

I didn't really use recipes for any of this. For the turkey breast, I made a rub with softened butter, salt, pepper, and poultry seasoning. Then I rubbed it all over the breast and under the skin. I put a large piece of onion in the small "cavity" created by the ribs on the underside of the breast and put it in the oven for about an hour.
For the dressing we tore up rye bread, tossed it with celery, onions, salt, pepper, poultry seasoning and olive oil. Neither Anders nor I like mushy stuffing cooked inside the bird (especially me... since I don't eat meat), so we baked it in a dish until it got crispy and tasssty.
Steamed vegetables and a mashed potatoes are pretty straightforward, so I don't think I need to explain that, right? The only thing I will say is that for mashed potatoes, Yukon Golds are GREAT. I also find that it works best to mash the potatoes with a masher first, then add in milk and (lots of) butter and whip the whole thing with a mixer. It makes for very smooth and tasty mashed potatoes!

The dinner was really great, except that the turkey was apparently pretty disappointing. I didn't have any, so I wouldn't know, but Anders didn't like it much. I got the breast from a butcher nearby, but I should have known better, because Anders has never really cared for any of the meat I've gotten there. Everything else was delicious though, and we were so happy to be able to have a small Thanksgiving dinner when we couldn't be with our families.

Anyway, I'm hoping to be able to do more baking soon - I've missed it a lot, especially since I haven't been able to do any of my other normal activities like horseback riding and running. And with Christmas coming up, I should have an excellent reason to do so!

Until then, guten Appetit!
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October 21, 2009

Zwetschgenknödel or Plum Dumplings

Okay, now I really have been remiss. I've been quasi-busy with school and a bit busier than that with work. I've also been having some bad luck - I recently fell off a horse and hurt my bank and hip, that injury turned into a pinched sciatic nerve, and on Monday I rolled my ankle really badly and have a very bad sprain. But today I did a presentation in my grad level German class and I'm tired and am not planning on doing any work tonight. So here's a post about something I made a while ago. Plum dumplings. They are a traditional German dish (in German: Zwetschgenknödel) that Anders family makes every summer. They can really only be made (and enjoyed) when plums are in season. In Ontario, that means the end of August. Anders and I made them one night shortly before school started.

We began by making the dough, which is very simple - flour, eggs, butter and Quark cheese.

We mixed the ingredients together by hand until they come together into a nice soft, sticky ball. The dough had to be cooled for an hour after that.

While the dough was in the fridge, we worked on our plums... and our apricots. That's a variation Anders' family loves to do.

After washing the fruit, we cut a slit down one side and pulled out the stones. You absolutely need freestone fruit for this, or you'll just want to die.

Next, we replaced the stone with a sugar cube.

Once we'd replaced all our stones with sugar cubes and our dough was cooled, we tore off small pieces of dough and flattened them out. These we used to cover each plum or apricot.

This is trickier than it may seem. The dough is sticky, and the fruit is somewhat wet/juicy. So between the dough sticking to your hands, and the juice from the fruit making the dough wet and not sticky, covering all the fruit takes some time and patience.

To cook these bad boys, we brought a large pot of water to a boil and dropped them in. The dumplings are finished then they float to the top.

We set the finished ones in a colander to drain.

And this is the final and most important step. We each took as many dumplings as we could fit on our plates and in our stomachs, cut them into bite-size pieces and covered them with cinnamon sugar (Anders also put melted butter on his, which is traditional, but I never do it).

And there you have a delicious, traditionally German MAIN COURSE. I'm serious! No one ever believes that this is a main course dish, but it is! Which is not to say that they don't also make a delicious dessert, it's just not traditional.
I have to apologise for not posting this sooner, as plums are definitely out of season in most places (although it is spring in the southern hemisphere...). But it's something to look forward to through the long winter months ahead of us.


Zwetschgenknödel or Plum Dumplings

350 grammes flour
1-2 eggs
40 grammes butter
250 grammes Quark

Pinch of salt
50 prune plums
50 sugar cubes
Bowl of sugar


Mix and knead flower, eggs, butter and Quark thoroughly until smooth. If sticky, use more flour. Cool ball of dough in refrigerator for 1 hour. Meanwhile, wash and dry the plums. Slit plums along one side and replace stones with sugar cubes. When the dough is cool, form it into a thick roll. Cut off small pieces, and knead into flat thin wraps. Wrap each plum in dough.
Drop dumplings into slightly salted boiling water. Simmer for about 10 minutes or until dumplings rise to the surface. Remove gently and place into colander to let the water run off. Serve in a large warm bowl with cinnamon sugar and melted butter on the side.

Guten Appetit!
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September 18, 2009

Final Wilton Cake and Truly, Truly, Truly Outrageous Chocolate Cookies

I've been remiss. Well, actually I haven't, I've just been busy. I got a job, the boyfriend moved back in, I started my last year of university (fiiiinally), I started my job, etc. But I've been doing some things in the kitchen and today I'm going to share a chocolate cookie recipe, right after I show you my final cake from the Wilton course.

Oooh, aaah!!

It's not amazing or anything, and my icing wasn't quite stiff enough, so the roses were a little tough to make. Also, I'm really bad at shell borders. Also, the stems of my roses are wiggly. Whatever. The cake itself was very tasty. I adapted my chocolate cake recipe to make it white chocolate, and once I've worked out some kinks in the recipe, I'll be sure to post it!

But here's the recipe for today. Another kind of outrageous chocolate cookie! More outrageous than the last ones, I promise!! These ones are ACTUALLY truly, truly, truly outrageous!

I'll be honest - I did take photos of the whole process for these cookies, but the batter looked like poop and I just can't bring myself to post the photos! I don't want to ruin it for you, because these cookies are super delicious, oh man. They just melt in your mouth and have an intense chocolate flavour. Try them!

Truly, Truly, Truly Outrageous Chocolate Cookies

2 ¼ cups flour
½ cup unsweetened cocoa
1 teaspoon baking soda
¾ cup vegetable oil (canola/rapeseed, olive, whatever)
½ cup brown sugar
½ cup white sugar
2 teaspoons vanilla
2 eggs
1 cup chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 375°F. In a large bowl, mix together the flour, cocoa and baking soda. In another bowl, beat together the oil, brown and white sugars and vanilla. Beat in the eggs. Make a well in the dry ingredients, and add the wet ingredients, stirring until combined. Add the chocolate chips and mix to distribute evenly throughout batter. Roll 1/8 cup (2 tablespoons) of batter into balls and place on a cookie sheet. You may press the cookies down if you wish - if not, they will bake into rounded domes. These cookies do not spread. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes. Remove trays to a wire rack to cool for a few minutes before removing cookies from the tray to cool completely.

Makes about 4 dozen.

Guten Appetit!
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August 18, 2009

Guacamole and Home-made Flour Tortilla Chips

Once upon a time, I made flour tortillas to use as wraps for a meal I made for myself and Anders. I never posted them because when I rolled them out they turned out to be more pointy and mishapen than circular. But they were tasty. Now, the other day I bought a bag of avocadoes. I don't really like avocado that much, but they're full of healthy fat and nutrients so I decided to just get them and maybe make myself like them. Instead I just went ahead and made guacamole a few days after buying them because that's really the only way I like to eat them. And to eat guacamole you need some chips. But have you ever noticed how much crap is in tortilla chips? Ugh. I have. So I decided to take that recipe for soft tortillas I had made before and make them into chips! That's right, folks. This post is a twofer! Guacamole and tortilla chips ho!

I started with the tortilla chips first, because the dough needs time to rest in between steps.

I started with some flour, baking powder, salt and canola oil.

I added some warm milk.

And that's it. Five ingredients, minimal mixing and I got this pleasant lump of dough, which I kneaded until it was well combined and smooth.

I threw the dough into the bowl I mixed it in and put a damp dish cloth over top. I let it rest for about 20 minutes.

Now, this next part is a lie, because I was multi-tasking the whole time and while the dough was resting I started on the guacamole, but to keep things simple, I'll continue with the tortilla chips.

After 20 minutes, I split the dough into four more or less equal parts.

And let them rest again. This dough needs a lot of rest, or it will be tough and gross.

After the second rest, I split each ball of dough in half and I rolled each one out very very thin. They do shrink back up a bit though. I didn't worry to much about how circular they were, because I was just going to butcher them anyway to make the chips.

Using my (dry, unoiled) cast iron pan, I...fried, baked?... each tortilla for about 30 seconds per side. They start to puff up a bit and turn brown in spots, so it's easy to tell when they're done.

When they were all done, I cut each tortilla into 8 triangular(ish) pieces.

I put those on a baking sheet, which I had first sprayed very lightly with canola oil. I also gave the soon-to-be-chips a light spray. This is what they looked like after baking for about 12 or 13 minutes.

Next, I worked on my guacamole!

Naturally enough, I started with avocadoes! What a lovely colour!

Next, I Chopped up some tomato.

And some green onion.

I threw those two things into my bowl with my avocadoes along with some lime juice, chili powder, cumin, salt and pepper.

Now look. I know you're supposed to put cilantro in guacamole. And no, I haven't done that. I have a confession. I hate cilantro. And I know very few people who DO like it so I don't feel bad about it! It makes me feel like my throat is closing up. That isn't a good feeling when you're eating! So I avoid it. I hope you understand.

Anyway... I don't like to mash my avocado before adding the other ingredients. I find that it just turns into paste when you do that and I don't like it. Guacamole should be think and rustic, not smooth and pasty.

So instead I just take a metal spoon to it and stir, breaking up the avocado as I see fit. And I also add some garlic because I realise I forgot it... and then I don't add enough. Whoops!

There we go. Oooh, look at it. Tastyyy.

Ooh, both together. Don't you want to just dive into the photo?


Okay. So I love guacamole. But it's nothing too new or exciting, so let's talk about the tortilla chips. They were good! They weren't WAY too salty like the store-bought ones, they had a nice light flavour and they were just... tasty. My only complaint is that some of them were a bit too crunchy but that was my fault. The only ones that were too crunchy were the darker ones, so they were obviously a bit over-baked. Next time I do this, and I definitely will do this again, I would decrease the baking time slightly. Other than that, they were great! I was pleased to be able to just sort of make it up. I spent a lot of time looking online for a recipe for tortilla chips, but I came up with nothing. Luckily it was easy to simply decide to make these into chips.


Flour Tortilla Chips


2 cups of all-purpose flour
1 ½ teaspoons of baking powder
1 teaspoon of salt
2 teaspoons of vegetable oil
¾ cups of warm milk


Mix together the flour, baking powder, salt and oil. Slowly add the warm milk. Stir until a loose, sticky ball is formed. Knead for two minutes on a floured surface. Dough should be firm and soft. Place dough in a bowl and cover with a damp cloth or plastic wrap for 20 minutes.
After the dough has rested, break off eight sections, roll them into balls in your hands, place on a plate (make sure they aren’t touching) and then cover balls with damp cloth or plastic wrap for 10 minutes. After dough has rested, one at a time place a dough ball on a floured surface, pat it out into a four-inch circle, and then roll with a rolling pin from the centre until it’s thin and about eight inches in diameter. Don’t over work the dough, or it’ll be stiff. In a dry iron skillet or comal heated on high, cook the tortilla about thirty seconds on each side. They should start to puff a bit when they're done.
Preheat the oven to 350°F. Cut the cooked tortillas into eighths and arrange a few pieces on a very lightly oiled baking sheet (canola oil spray works well). Spray the tops of the tortilla pieces very lightly with canola oil. Place in the over for 10 to 12 minutes, or until the chips are brown and crispy. Cool slightly before eating.



4 small or 3 medium avocadoes
2 small or 1 large tomato(es), chopped
6-8 green onions, chopped
3 tablespoons lime juice
2 cloves garlic, crushed
2 teaspoons chili powder
2 teaspoons ground cumin
salt and pepper to taste


Cut avocadoes in half and scrap fruit into a bowl. Add chopped tomato and green onion, garlic, chili powder, cumin and salt and pepper. Stir and break up avocado. Serve with tortilla chips or pita bread or something equally delicious.

Guten Appetit!
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August 14, 2009

Wilton Course 1 Class 2

Last night I had my second Wilton class in which we decorated our cakes with the Wilton rainbow!

On Wednesday night I baked my cake.

Now, I did two things I don't normally do. I used a mix and I wet a dish towel and wrapped it around the pan to make it bake more evenly.
I don't like that mixes call for so many eggs. Three? Geez! But I do love the homemade bake-even strip I used. In the first Wilton class the instructor suggested we get the Wilton brand ones, but using a dish towel is a lot more... free. So all I did was roll up a dish towel to fit the height of the cake pan, soak it, ring it, wrap it around the pan and secure it with a couple of safety pins. It made my cake bake completely evenly. I didn't have to level it at all and the outside edge wasn't over-baked. It was excellent.
I did have to bake the cake for about ten minutes longer, because the wet towel kept the pan cooler than normal. But if you're planning on using this trick, make sure to check the cake around the suggested baking time and determine just how much extra time it will need!

Anyway, yesterday I spent a tonne of time making different frostings and then frosting the darned cake.

I'm really not good at frosting cakes. It took me about an hour and it was really uneven and not very smooth. But I let the frosting set for a bit and then rubbed it down with parchment paper to try to smooth it out a bit. If you'd like a tutorial for that, check out this video! This lady does it with a paper towel, but you can do it with parchment, as well.

Finally, I took the half hour bus ride to Michael's (the bus system sucks here) and decorated my cake!

It turned out pretty well! The colours were insanely bright (although the photos make them look brighter than they actually were), and I managed to make my rainbow pretty even. It was fun to do, too.

When I got home, a good friend came over and shared some with me.

So I just have to say, I think the Wilton "butter"cream is disgusting. It's all shortening and no butter. It tastes like sugar and chemicals. I think next week I'll frost the cake with a real buttercream and just decorate with the Wilton buttercream. If you're interested, the recipe for the Wilton buttercream is below. I think I would probably stick with the basic recipe, but replace the shortening with butter - I think then it would be pretty decent.
Overall, however, I'm pleased with the class! It's fun to learn some decorating techniques, even if they are really simple. I'm hoping that after I'm done this course, I can just find the books for the other courses and follow those instead of doing the other courses. Mostly because it's ridiculously impractical for me to get to Michael's, but also because it's all pretty well laid out in the books and now that I've learned how they teach things in the courses, I think I can just transfer it to the next levels. I think I would recommend the first course to anyone who wants to learn the basics of frosting!


Wilton Buttercream
1 cup solid white vegetable shortening*
1 teaspoon Wilton Flavour**
3 tablespoons milk or water
1 lb. confectioners' sugar (approx. 4 cups)
1 tablespoon Wilton Meringue Powder***
pinch of salt (optiona)

Cream together shortening, flavour, water and salt if using (it's good to dissolve the salt in the liquid, otherwise it might dissolve later in your frosting and mess up the colours). Add dry ingredients and mix on medium speed until all ingredients have been thoroughly mixed together. Mix for an additional minute or so, until creamy.

*they suggest Crisco because it's very white
**my instructor recommended a mixture of colourless vanilla and butter flavours, but I just used regular vanilla... coloured and all
***this helps stabilise the frosting - I actually like the product.

This recipe makes about three cups of stiff consistency frosting. Wilton has three consistencies they use in class and it's actually pretty useful to know them and what they're used for.
Stiff consistency is used for things like flowers with upright petals, like the Wilton rose or sweet peas.
Medium consistency is used for stars (with the star tips), figure piping, borders (like the shell border) and floweres with petals that lie flat. To make medium consistency frosting, add one teaspoon of water for each cup of stiff frosting, or one tablespoon if you want to make the full recipe medium consistency.
Thin consistency is used for writing, making vines, leaves and frosting the cake. To make thin consistency frosting, add two teaspoons of water for each cup of stiff frosting, or two tablespoons for the full recipe).
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August 12, 2009


Hello friends, devoted readers, and visitors. I've just changed the layout of CCbmB and I've also changed the format of my posts. Not much has changed in the layout itself, but the format of the posts has changed. To read more about it...
I just wanted to change things around so that my front page wasn't bogged down with long posts, full of my process photos. This way, I'll have an introduction photo of the finished product on the front page, and the rest of the post, including process photos, commentary and recipes will appear after the link labelled "Continue reading..." I hope this makes the navigation and viewing of my CCbmB easier and more enjoyable for everyone!

As for what's going on with me right now, I'm still unemployed and thus unable to really buy too many extra groceries to be used in baking. Plus I don't have a 6'1" distance runner boyfriend in the apartment at the moment to share them with. None of that, of course, has stopped me from taking The Wilton Method of Decorating Course 1. So I will be updating the world on my progress in the class, as I currently have no decorating skill.
And with September comes more money (hopefully) and the return of the aforementioned boyfriend, so my posts should be more regular and more interesting (hopefully).

Thanks for keeping up with me and my fun in the kitchen!
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July 28, 2009

Strawberry (and blueberry) Shortcake

My lovely sister visited me a couple of weekends ago, and while she was here we decided to make shortcake! She'd made it before, but I'd never even eaten a real shortcake before. I find that most of the time you see it in a restaurant, grocery store or bakery, it's actually angel food cake served with strawberries. Very different!

Shortcake is actually made with a dough. It looks like bread dough. You mush it into a pan and it's lumpy and not very pretty when it comes out. But it still somehow looks delicious and perfect.
You're supposed to cut this (very thin) cake in half and layer it with whipped cream and fruit. We decided it would be difficult to do (plus we were tired and just wanted some cake), so we didn't. It kept a lot better that way.

I didn't take photos of the whole process because we were also busy making dinner when we made it, but here's what it looked like when we were done!

It's really a simple and lovely cake. Very filling, too, so you can get quite a few servings out of one cake!


Strawberry Shortcake


2 cups all-purpose flour
3/4 cup sugar
2 tsp. baking powder
1/4 tsp. salt
1/3 cup cold butter or margarine, cut into pieces
2/3 cup milk
2 pints strawberries (about 7 cups whole)
1 cup whipping cream


Preheat oven to 425 degrees F. Grease 8-inch round cake pan. In medium bowl, combine flour, 3 tbsp sugar, baking powder, and salt. With pastry blender, cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Stir in milk just until mixture forms soft dough that leaves side of bowl. On lightly floured surface, knead dough 10 times. With floured hands, pat evenly into cake pan and sprinkle with 1 tbsp sugar. Bake until golden, about 20-30 minutes.
Meanwhile, reserve 4 whole strawberries for garnish; hull remaining strawberries and cut in half or in quarters. In medium bowl, toss strawberries with remaining 1/2 cup sugar until sugar has dissolved.
Invert shortcake onto surface. With long serrated knife, cut shortcake horizontally in half. In bowl, with mixer at medium speed, beat cream just until soft peaks form.
Place bottom half of shortcake, cut side up, on cake plate; top with half the strawberry mixture and half the whipped cream. Place remaining shortcake, cut side down, on strawberry mixture. Spoon remaining strawberry mixture over, then top with remaining whipped cream. Garnish with reserved whole strawberries.

Guten Appetit!
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July 16, 2009

Strawberry and White Chocolate Tart

Okay. So, not only am I back from Germany, but I'm also unemployed because 1) this is a weird time of year to hire anyone, and 2) it's a terrible economy to hire anyone. You're probably thinking that I should be using all this time to bake bake bake and post post post. But bake bake baking requires money money money, which I am sorely lacking because of my current state of unemployment.
Nonetheless, I did bake last week. I actually made something for a friend who was looking for a subject for a photography exercise/contest. I spent a lot of time considering all my options. Something tried and true or something completely new (rhyme not intended)? I chose a dish, then changed my mind, then changed my mind again and finally I did land on something I had made before... only completely different.
If you'll think (or look, if you weren't with me back then) back to June 2008, you'll remember that I made a strawberry chocolate pie for my sister's birthday. Well this time I decided to follow the original recipe more closely and used white chocolate... but I still used strawberries. Mostly because the raspberries were about twice the price.

I started by hulling and washing some beautiful, fresh, Ontario strawberries. I'm only glad I live in Ontario in the summer, and only because of the plethora of beautiful, fresh produce.

I set those aside to drain and cut up some chilled butter.

Then added some flour and sugar.

And blended it all up.

Next I added some egg yolks, whipping cream and lemon juice and blended those in.

The dough looked like this when it was all blended.

I formed it into a ball and wrapped it up in plastic wrap and put it in the fridge.

Meet my new Paderno tart pan. I love it.

When the dough was chilled, I fit it into the lovely lovely pan.

The dough went back into the fridge and I chopped up the white chocolate.

I melted it in a pot with some whipping cream and vanilla (which made the colour kind of gross, but I tried to ignore it).

I poured the melted chocolate mixture into a bowl with an egg and beat it up.

While I was doing all that, the tart shell was baking blind, so once the filling was prepared, I filled the bottom of the tart with a bunch of strawberries.

And drowned them with the white chocolate mixture.

After going in the oven for 45 or 50 minutes, the tart came out looking like this, which is basically what I imagine heaven looks like.

So, I don't have any photos of the tart cut. I took the tart over to my friend's house where he had set up about three flashes and his fancy-pants camera. Many shots of the whole tart were taken before we cut a perfect slice out and took many most photos of the slice and the tart, etc. It was fun and a lot of the photos seemed to turn out pretty nicely. Of course I haven't seen any since that night, but as soon as I get my hands on them, I'll post them up and show you what my food looks like when you light it properly instead of just using the natural light of my huge apartment windows.
We also ate some, and it was pretty tasty! They crust was a little too thick, but the filling had a pleasant white chocolate flavour and the strawberries gave it a nice fresh taste, too! I did alter the recipe based on thoughts by eat me, delicious, who made it quite a while ago and thought that the white chocolate flavour was a little weak. All I did was increase the white chocolate by 2 ounces and decrease the whipping cream by 2 ounces. It worked out just fine!
I'm not sure I would add it to my regular rotation of desserts for gatherings or functions, but it was quite enjoyable.

More posts to come soon, hopefully! My sister is visiting for the weekend and we're planning to make shortcake!


Strawberry and White Chocolate Tart
adapted from a Ricardo Larrivée recipe.


2 ¼ cups flour
1 pinch of salt
½ cup sugar
¾ cup unsalted butter, chilled and cubed
4 egg yolks
1 tablespoon ice water or 35% cream
1 tablespoon lemon juice
½ cup 35% cream
6 ounces white chocolate, chopped
1 egg, lightly beaten
2 teaspoons vanilla
1 ½ cups fresh strawberries (or enough strawberries to fill the bottom of your tart crust)


Shortbread Crust
Place the butter, flour, salt and sugar in a bowl and blend with a pastry blender until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Add the egg yolks, water or cream and lemon juice and blend until the mixture is uniform. Shape into a disk, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 30 minutes.
Pat the dough into a 9-inch tart pan. Refrigerate for another 30 minutes. With the rack in the lowest position, preheat the oven to 375°F. Line the chilled crust with aluminum foil, scattering a few dry beans or pie weights on top to hold the foil in place. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove the weights and foil and bake for 5 minutes more. Let cool.
Preheat the oven to 325°F. In a saucepan over low heat, gently melt the chocolate in the cream and vanilla. Lightly beat the egg using an electric mixer on lowest speed. While beating, slowly add the chocolate mixture, taking care not to incorporate air into the mixture. Beat for 15 seconds more. Arrange strawberries on the pie crust with their pointed ends facing up. Gently pour the filling over the berries without covering them completely. Bake until the centre is only slightly jiggly, 45 to 50 minutes*.
Let stand at room temperature for 3 to 4 hours. Best if served the same day.

* Make sure you check often after about 35 minutes, because all ovens are different!

Guten Appetit!
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