My dad used to make us fancy breakfasts on Sundays--waffles, pancakes, or french toast, generally. I remember one Sunday in particular when my brother and I came downstairs, sat down at the kitchen table and found that my dad had had the genius idea of putting cherry pie filling into the waffle batter. I was BAFFLED. "How did you even think to DO that?" I asked. My dad sarcastically replied, "Well, I was thinking, and thinking, an I kept thinking...and that's what I thunk!". I think I remember that moment so clearly, because it was then that I discovered the art of improvisation. Improvising in the kitchen (or "jazz baking"/"free jazz baking" as my friend Mandy calls it) is something that my dad really prides himself on--a little of this, a little of that, a new twist on an old classic--and I think I inherited some of that bug. It's harder in baking then cooking, but I feel like I'm just getting to the point as a baker where I am more comfortable with experimentation, and with that, failure.
The other day I was thinking and thinking, and kept thinking, and I thunk up the idea of a pie crust out of Pocky. The Japanese biscuit is a nostalgic treat for me, right up there with Koala Yummies. I think my aunt gave both to my brother and I when her pilot friend brought some back from a trip to Japan. Though "Men's Pocky" is clearly superior, lately I've been pretty into the strawberry variety. A few months ago I made strawberry Pocky ice cream, in an attempt to replicate some that I had from a Japanese food truck in Nashville last summer. It was goood. I was thinking that strawberry Pocky pie crust would be too.
I used a basic graham cracker crust recipe, substituting the grahams for the Pocky and subtracting a few tablespoons of sugar. I opted for a simple chocolate filling this time around, so that the Pocky flavor would stand out. I had hoped that the crust would be pink, and it was before I baked it, but like purple green beans that disappointingly turn green when cooked, the Pocky crumbs lost all of their strawberry hue in the oven.
1 1/4 c. strawberry Pocky crumbs (about 6- 1.16oz boxes)
1 Tblsp. sugar
1/3 c. butter, melted
7 oz. 60-70% dark chocolate (unsweetened), broken into pieces
3/4 c. sugar
3/4 c. heavy cream
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Put strawberry Pocky in the bowl of a food processor and pulse until finely ground into crumbs. Add sugar and melted butter and pulse until well mixed.
2. Pat the buttery crumbs into a 9-inch pie pan, pressing mixture into the bottom and sides to form a pie crust. Place in oven and bake until crust is lightly browned, about 10 minutes. Place on a cooling rack and let cool to room temperature before adding the filling.
1. Put chocolate, sugar, and heavy cream into the top of a double boiler. Put water in the bottom of the boiler and place on medium heat until filling is melted, glossy, and thick.
2. Pour chocolate ganache over the baked Pocky crust and refrigerate for at least 1 hour. Serve at room temperature.
In the end, the crust was delicious, and the strawberry flavor was present but not unnaturally overbearing. Though it might not have matched my dad's improvisational genius of cherry pie waffles, It certainly wasn't a failure, and I'm excited about other Pocky pie possibilities--strawberry Pocky crust with a dark chocolate coconut filling? Men's Pocky crust with a raspberry icebox filling? Strawberry Pocky icebox filling in a strawberry Pocky crust? Turns out, there is Pocky for kitty (bonus points if you get that allusion...)
I brought this pie over to my friend Cole's house for a not-so-celebration of his departure from DC to the west coast. It accompanied delicious potato salad, mac and cheese, and spicy drumsticks on the cookout buffet table, and fueled our late night dance jams at the Last Cherch Service.