Guess what season it is?!?!!?!? If you live in Michigan and you’ve been to any of the farmers markets lately, you can smell ’em! And, ooohhhh is that aroma better than any perfume or any of its (sort of) relatives that ship here from California and Mexico in the winter. Michigan Strawberries!!!!!
Strawberry pie, strawberry shortcake, strawberry jam, strawberries over ice cream….too much? NAHHH.
I went to the farmers market this morning for the first time this year. Yes, it’s been open a while. Yes, I could have gone before, but I haven’t been in the market for new plants, and that is the bulk of what you find early in the season. Today, I was SO glad I went. Besides, it really is so much fun to just wander through, and Midland has one of the best farmers markets I have ever seen. And every time I visit a new city, I check.
So today, I almost made a fool of myself because, I hadn’t really even entered the throngs of people yet, and I could smell those berries (You wanna know one of the best ways to pick out fresh fruit? Smell it). I was already seeing this pie in my near future. And THAT earns me extra wife points, cuz this is one of his absolute favorites.
This is THE best strawberry cream pie I have ever had. Hands down. This is our family favorite for strawberry season. Unfortunately, if you don’t watch yourself, you will have to find new favorite clothes, too. This is not exactly low-cal diet food. But that’s okay, we only get a few of them a year, because it’s best made when you can get juicy and sweet local berries. This is made with just a few ingredients and the strawberries themselves provide the bulk of the flavor here, so you want them to be as flavorful as possible. There is no jello or “whipped topping” or anything like that. Simple and YUM. Starting with a simple graham cracker crust.
If you aren’t into making your own, don’t have time, or just plain don’t feel like messing with it, a store-bought 9 inch graham cracker crust is the perfect size for this pie. I prefer to make my own and, in this case, I doubled the recipe anyway because we had company. Since I didn’t want to make 2 separate pies, I just made a little extra crust and patted it into the bottom of a 9 X 13″ pan and doubled the recipe for the filling. It works perfect. BUT, the recipe as written is for 1 9-inch pie. NOTE: Do not use fat free cream cheese in this! It will not thicken enough. Light cream cheese is okay but filling will be a little soft. Full fat cream cheese works best.
If you ARE making your own crust, don’t be as vacant as I was and have your filling almost ready then realize you never made the crust. Then, you have to throw the crust together, bake it, then find a way to cool it so you can finish the darn thing and get on to important stuff. Like floating around in the pool on a hot Saturday afternoon. So, once it had cooled for about 15-20 minutes, I set it on a cookie sheet, then put the whole thing in the freezer for a quick cool down. About 20 minutes later, I had a crust that was about room temperature, so I finished putting the filling in it, then headed for the pool. Life is good.
- Graham Crust:
- 1½ cups graham cracker crumbs
- 3 Tablespoons granulated sugar
- 4 Tablespoons butter, melted
- Strawberry Cream Filling:
- 1 package cream cheese, softened
- ¼ cup granulated sugar
- 1 cup sliced strawberries, divided in half
- 1 cup (1/2 pint carton) whipping cream
- ¼ cup confectioners/powdered sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- Mix all crust ingredients in a 9 inch pie pan. Press evenly across the bottom and up the sides. Bake crust at 350 degrees about 8 minutes. Set crust aside to cool.
- In a medium sized bowl, mix cream cheese until smooth. Mix in the ¼ cup regular sugar. Make sure you get all of the cream cheese mixed in smoothly so there are no lumps. Take ½ cup of the sliced berries and chop/crush them, until there are no large pieces, mainly juice. Mix the crushed berries and the vanilla into the cream cheese.
- In a separate bowl, pour in the whipping cream and powdered sugar and beat at high speed (whisk attachment works best if you have one) until stiff, making sure you get all of the cream from the bottom and sides of the bowl. Carefully add the whipped cream to the strawberry cream cheese mixture along with the sliced strawberries, and FOLD in carefully, just until fully mixed together. Put the mixture into the cooled pie crust and spread evenly. Refrigerate at least 2 hours. 4 hours works best. Decorate the top with sliced strawberries. Keep any leftovers in the refrigerator.