Those U-pick places tend to be better in theory than in practice for me. I do like knowing that my food is picked at its peak ripeness. It makes for some wonderfully sweet strawberries. On the other hand, ew, bugs. And thorns, and rotting berries that you can’t see under all the leaves and you don’t find until you reach under to grab for a nearby berry and squish!
Not that you shouldn’t try it! Or you could just buy the pre-picked cartons in the farm store right nearby.
It was worth it in the end though, because I love this pie. I’ve managed to make it once each spring since I found the recipe. And Dave and I managed to eat three-quarters of it within 24 hours this year! That’s something to be proud of.
The thing is, I can’t resist cheesecake batter (sugary cream cheese!), and that’s mostly what this pie is. Cream cheese is mixed with sugar and a bit of almond extract, then whipped cream is folded in to lighten it. (I love when heavy cream is used to lighten something.) The cream filling is topped with strawberries, which are kept whole for maximum visual impact, and then a bit of dark chocolate is drizzled over the top for some contrasting color and flavor.
You don’t need fresh-picked strawberries for this pie. The little raspberry-sized berries we picked made it a little easier to cut nice slices, but bigger strawberries require less hulling. And anyway, it’s hard to mess up this pie, with the sweet, creamy filling topped with slightly tart strawberries and just a bit of bitter chocolate, all supported by flaky pie crust. This is the only strawberry dessert I make a point to make every single spring.
One year ago: Poached Eggs with Arugula and Polenta Fingers
Strawberries and Cream Pie (adapted from Pillsbury’s Complete Cookbook)
You could definitely use the full cup of cream in the filling (which is what the original recipe recommends) if you have more cream around for the chocolate, but I didn’t and I kicked myself for not saving a bit of the 1-cup container of cream I’d brought. I used butter with the chocolate instead, but the chocolate hardened too much when it was cold and broke apart into shards when I cut slices. Cream will keep it softer.
1 cup cold heavy cream, divided
8 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup (2.33 ounces) sugar
¼ to ½ teaspoon almond extract
1 pie crust for a 1-crust pie, completely baked and cooled
2 pints fresh whole strawberries, hulled
2 ounces bittersweet chocolate, finely chopped
1. In a medium bowl (or the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the whisk attachment), beat 1 cup minus 1 tablespoon of the cream on medium speed. When the cream is frothy, increase the speed to high and whip until the cream holds firm peaks.
2. In a separate large bowl (or the bowl of a standing mixer fitted with the paddle attachment), beat the cream cheese on medium speed until it’s soft and creamy. Add the sugar and extract and continue beating until combined.
3. Fold about 1/3 of the whipped cream into the cream cheese to lighten the mixture, then add the remaining cream and continue folding until it’s incorporated. Evenly spread the cream mixture in the pie crust. Arrange the strawberries, pointed side up, over the filling.
4. Melt the chocolate with the remaining 1 tablespoon cream over very low heat, stirring constantly, or in the microwave on medium power, or in a double boiler. Drizzle the chocolate over the strawberries. Refrigerate the pie until set, about 1 hour.