Baking in Jars

by in Recipes, September 13th, 2012

peanut butter jar pieBeing a pastry chef and working in a tight, efficient kitchen of a very busy restaurant means I must possess Ina Garten-esque organizational skills, nurture a sophisticated palate that runs the gamut between savory and sweet and, most importantly, be a neat freak. Not your run-of-the-mill-dust-around-the-mixer type, but an obsessed clean-as-you-go neat freak. Once my kitchen is clean, I’m prepared for culinary combat with my savory buddies (chefs) in my quest for absolute freshness and artistic composition.

For years, I’ve battled with storage issues of the culinary kind. Often sharing space in the walk-in cooler with steaming trays of shrimp, my savory counterparts show no mercy when I rant about how the meringue on my pies will taste of garlic and the chocolate whipped cream will have a smoky flavor due to cooling hunks of smoked pork products.

Necessity is the mother of invention. Then an aha moment occurred. Why not serve my yummy pies in jars? Number one, they would be way too cute and number two, they’d be covered and protected from all the delicious yet unwelcome flavors and aromas floating around. I’m not talking pies squished into a jar, but actually constructed in jars.

Here’s what I do:

– I start off by making pie dough, but instead of lining a pie pan, I bake the dough on a sheet pan until it’s golden brown, allow it to cool, then break it up into large pieces.

– Next, I decide on the filling. Will it be tart lemon curd, fudgy chocolate cream or coconut custard? Once that decision is made, I hit the ground running.

– The jar decision comes next. Use whatever you like, just make sure you have jar lids. You can do mini 4 oz. jars or 6-8 oz. jars. It’s totally up to you. I collect antique jars and am especially fond of old ball jars.

– What kind of topping? Marshmallow cream, whipped cream and Italian meringue are just a few of my faves. I love pairing peanut butter filling with fluffy marshmallow cream and then layering it with chunks of toffee pieces and peanut brittle. Yum.

– Streusel? It’s not a necessity, but if you want to add another pie-like element, it’s the bomb. Choose a recipe that you love and bake it on a lined sheet pan. Cool and crumble it over an apple compote filling.

– Last step? Remember to have fun and be creative.

Pie in a jar is a great alternative to an ordinary pie and never needs to be sliced. You can’t ever go wrong with portable food.

Hedy Goldsmith, a 2012 James Beard Award finalist for Outstanding Pastry Chef, is the executive pastry chef for the Genuine Hospitality Group of restaurants including Michael’s Genuine Food & Drink in Miami and Grand Cayman, and Harry’s Pizzeria in Miami. Now in her third season of Cooking Channel’s Unique Sweets, Hedy has appeared on Food Network’s The Best Thing I Ever Ate and lauded in The New York Times, People, Wine Spectator, Bon Appétit, The Huffington Post and Food & Wine magazine. Hedy’s first cookbook, Baking Out Loud: Fun Desserts with Big Flavors (Clarkson Potter / Publishers), will be released October 2.

Photo courtesy of The Genuine Hospitality Group

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Comments (25)

  1. SLL says:

    The article never specified that you bake IN the jar…it said something about baking your crust and then breaking it into pieces. As far as the filling…who bakes a chocolate cream pie?????? I certainly don't bake a pie with a pudding filling….the crust maybe but not all the stuff that goes into it. So you break the crust up and put it into the bottom of the jar and fill it accordingly…I am the only one that understood that?

    • M. Hend says:

      I understood that. Obviously baking the pie like that in a jar would end badly; this looks to be intended for the more assemble-and-sit type of pies (after all, the complaint is that they're smelling like the food in the cooler, not the oven!).

    • Rose says:

      i have a book hat u ony bake stuff in jars!!! sm, med , lg, jars

      • Rose says:

        opps!! time for me to go to sleep i can't see the keyboad to type right…lol.. i ment to say i have a book that u only bake stuff in jars such as desserts….in all sz, jars!! sorry…

  2. Julia Hardy says:

    not very informative

  3. M. Hend says:

    While the article was lacking in some details, the idea behind it is cute. I've seen similar things done with baking ingredients; it would be neat to finally give someone a finished product! I imagine non-baked pies would be the focus in this assembly, as the jars would be at risk of breaking in the oven. The baked parts are said to be done on flat sheets, then added after, so that tilts it even more in that direction.

  4. Renee' M says:

    You can always google "desserts baked in a jar" and you can get some more good ideas there with more instructions as well :)

  5. Gabby says:

    I was hoping they would tell us how to bake that in a jar….it looked sooo good! :D

  6. sarah nash says:

    looks good im going go home and make it

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