Introduction: Fast Fourier Fromage & Fraises
When contemplating my pi day pie I decided it needed to meet two requirements. A good pi day pie must first and foremost be delicious (what's the point of pie if it isn't fabulous?). Second, it needs to embody pi in as many ways possible. I decided that the best way to meet these two goals was to make a cheese pie, because a cheese pie is both delicious and fairly solid, so I could cut shapes out of my pie without worry of a runny, cave-in mess. Next, to make it fabulously pi-ish, it needed circles representing the first few digits of pi-- 3 chocolate circles, a strawberry decimal point, 1 chocolate circle, 4 strawberry circles, etc. And then, what's better than a pi pie? Two pi! A friend suggested incorporating sine waves, so here we have a sine wave with a period of two pi!
Step 1: Ingredients
2 cups graham cracker crumbs
½ cup melted butter
¼ c sugar
½ c sugar
1 ½ c cottage cheese
4 oz cream cheese
¼ c vanilla yogurt
2 T flour
1 t vanilla extract
1/8th t salt
2 egg yolks
2 egg whites
2 T sugar
2 c sliced strawberries
3 T sugar
½ t cornstarch
1 ¼ cup chocolate chips
3T marshmallow fluff
corn syrup to thin
A fondue fork (or similar thin, pointy instrument)
Pastry tips (I used a wilton bismark and a writing tip, #1)
Step 2: Make Your Crust
Preheat your oven to 325 and gather ingredients for the crust. Mix together the graham cracker crumbs and sugar to incorporate them, then mix this combo with the butter until the graham cracker crumbs are moistened and starting to cling together. Press your graham cracker crumb mixture into the bottom and sides of a pie plate. Chill your pie crust while you make the filling. Yum.
I used a springform pan, but you could also use a 9" pie dish. If it's not deep dish, you'll likely have extra-- when I have this difficulty I just put the extra in a ramekin, which is actually not a bad idea if you need to practice carving shapes in pie. It's an acquired skill.
Step 3: Will It Blend?
Now for the best part--the filling. Take ½ c sugar, cottage cheese, cream cheese, yogurt, flour, vanilla, salt, 2 whole eggs and 2 egg yolks (all the filling ingredients except the 2 egg whites and 2 T sugar) and toss them into either a blender or an immersion blender. Blend. No blender? No problem, use a food processor.
Once blended remove from the blender / food processor / immersion blender / whatever blendy device you have, and dump it into a largish bowl. Let it sit while you move on to the next step.
Step 4: Whip the Egg Whites
Beat the egg whites until they're frothy and starting to form soft peaks. Add in the remaining sugar (2T in case you haven't been keeping track) and whip until stiff peaks form.
Step 5: Fold 'n Bake
Fold your egg white mixture into the cheese mixture, and plop the whole thing into your pie crust. Bake for about 45 minutes or until the middle of the pie barely jiggles when you shake it. Bring it out of the oven and let it cool to room temperature (if you're using a springform pan take a spatula around the edges and release from the pan after letting it cool about 15 minutes or so). Then exercising great self control, cover and refrigerate your pie for at least 3 hours, preferably over night.
Step 6: Carving Out Your Axes
Once your pie has had time to set, uncover it, use your template as a guide, and draw your axes using your fondue fork. Carve out a little trench, deep enough to fill, but not too deep to touch the bottom of your pie. You may want to use toothpicks to help you out here. I freehanded it, but you could also cut the axes out of the template and place the template on top of your pie.
Ditto with the pis -- make these right near your axes, the -pi above the axis, the positive pi below it.
Step 7: Making the Circles
Cut your template so you can place it on top of the pie. Then, using your wilton bismark (or similarly sized pastry tip or circular device) like a hole punch, poke circles out of your pie right next to where they are on the template. Don't forget the decimal point! I used a toothpick for that. Speaking of toothpicks, you'll probably need to de-pie your pastry tip with toothpicks along the way. Eat the discarded pie bits to reward yourself for your self control earlier.
Step 8: Fraises
Now you need to make your sauces. Dump your strawberries, sugar and cornstarch into a small pot and bring to a boil. Stir constantly and cook for about a minute, until the sauce thickens a bit. Remove from heat and pull that blender back out. Liquify your sauce, then strain through a mesh strainer to remove the seeds.
Step 9: Fill in the Dots
Using a pastry bag fitted with a very small pastry tip (a 1 or at most a 3), Fill in the decimal point with strawberry sauce, leave an empty circle, fill in the next 4 circles, leave an empty circle, and fill in the next 5 circles (hint: use your finger as a stopper between circles to prevent drips!)
Step 10: Chocolate Sauce!
Now make the chocolate sauce! Heat up the milk on the stove. Remove from heat and add chocolate chips, whisking until they're completely melted. Cool a little bit, but don't make this one too far ahead of the decorating, otherwise it won't cooperate quite as well.
Step 11: Fill in the Axes and Pis
Using a pastry bag fitted with the same small pastry tip, fill in the remaining empty circles with the chocolate sauce. Then fill in your axes and pis.
Step 12: Sine Sauce!
Make your sine marshmallow sauce -- mix together the marshmallow fluff with your food coloring. Once you're happy with the color you may need to thin it a little bit with corn syrup in order to get it to come out of your pastry bag easily.
Use your pastry bag again (with the same small tip) draw your sine wave on your axes.
Step 13: Enjoy!
Serve your pi pie with the extra sauces, call all your nerdy friends and have a pi party!