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. Nancy clancy says:

    I would like to see more vegetarian and vegan chopped shows! and a network show that features only vegetarian meals…organic!!!! I'm disappointed that Food Network is all about meat!

  2. irma says:

    How far in advance can u make these..just wondering if u assembled them the night before if they’d be soggy by next day?

  3. Ingrid Schlichtmann says:

    Can't get enough of Hedy Goldsmith's dessert!! She is a true ARTIST!

  4. Steven Smith says:

    what an ingenious use of materials and storage facilities! Stink away, smoked salmon, my parfaits are safe!

  5. Kate says:

    What did you do with the baked crust pieces?

  6. AntCer says:

    Food Network chefs should never be vegans or vegetarians. The reason being, a chef should never discriminate any ingredient and palette. Meat is just as organic as fruit and veggies. Just depends on where you're getting the meat.
    Making vegan/vegetarian dishes is okay, though, and a show demonstrating some recipes would be cool as a reference if your not feeling particularly meat-hungry that day. :)

    • Carlie says:

      That's an odd approach. Chefs cater to different diets, palettes and restrictions all the time. An all vegan, vegetarian or gluten-free show is around the corner. Mark my words. People with dietary restrictions, because of their health or by choice, deserve great food TV just as much as someone who has no restrictions.

      • Hope says:

        I agree and I am very much a meat eater in the last 4 yrs, however just had my cholesterol ck'd and it went from 74 to 170!!! Now seeing what meat and butter has done, now going back to eating significantly less as before. It would be wonderful to see vegetarian cooking shows.

    • Mari says:

      Meat is organic like fruit and veggies??? Besides the blood and the pain…..right? Food net needs a vegetarian chef….with healthy and yummy recipes, because that's the future my friend….

  7. Jess says:

    Not a fan… I was hoping for advice on actually baking in jars, not just baking then putting in jars. I've baked jar cakes (that last like canned food on the shelf). I was looking for tips on that. :-( misleading article.

  8. Mama Wilkins says:

    Is it all pre-cooked and then assembled in the jar…. or baked in the jar? I see the crust is cooked alone and then broken and put in the jar, but what about the filling? I don't make a lot of pies which might explain my confusion, but would love to do these as gifts. Where could I find a step-by-step recipe?

  9. Brent says:

    Useless article . . . All it did was describe backing Ina jar as a Concept
    No instructions
    No link to instructions
    I agree with Jess, Very Missleading

  10. Linda Bruinsma says:

    Shelf life?? Water bath or what to preserve? No baking instructions or construction details. HELP!!

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