Strawberry shortcake, meet your worst enemy.
This pie is a layered masterpiece of pie crust, cream cheese, strawberry sauce, and fresh strawberries. I first remember having this pie over July 4th a few years ago while visiting my in-laws. My husband’s Grandma has quite the repertoire of recipes and has shared them with my Mother-In-Law, almost like a right of passage, over the years. My Mother-In-Law made this pie for us to enjoy on a typical July 4th day–at the pool, cooking out, beers and cocktails in hand, you know, the classic “American-suburbia-July 4th” vibe. When I say this pie was so good that I was the only person who took a second piece of pie (being the smallest and pickiest eater of everyone there), that should speak volumes. I worked out extra hard the next day.
This pie, while it has some short cuts, also has some nuances that you have to be aware of. First of all, timing is everything! There are a few “let it cool” steps, you will want to consider if you are making this the same day as a cookout or picnic (or a staycation during quarantine).
Take help from the store and just go ahead and buy a frozen or refrigerated pie crust. Don’t worry, you will still need your rolling pin for the cream cheese. Rolling the softened cream cheese between two pieces of wax paper is key. You will want to get it to be as big as the pie crust, “but not too thin!” as my Mother-In-Law would say. Then you have to carefully transfer it to a plate lined with plastic wrap and store in the fridge to get the cream cheese hardened. You will use the plastic wrap to easily place the cream cheese layer in the pie shell, without decomposing it.
Making the strawberry sauce is pretty simple–but don’t let it get too hot on the stove and make sure you continue to stir it. And of course, let it cool in the fridge before adding to the pie! You don’t want to ruin all the cream cheese rolling you did previously by pouring hot berries over it to melt, do you?
This pie is perfect for a safe and appropriately socially distanced cookout this July 4th (or anytime, really). Enjoy!
- 1 baked 9 inch pie crust, cooled
- 4.5 ounces of cream cheese, slightly softened
- 4 cups of fresh strawberries, divided: 1 cup and 3 cups
- 1 cups of water, divided: ⅓ cup and ⅔ cup
- 1 cup of sugar
- 3 teaspoons of cornstarch
- Place the cream cheese between two sheets of wax paper. Using a rolling pin, roll the cream cheese to a circle, about the size of the pie crust.
- Ultimately, you want to get the layer of cream cheese in the cooled pie shell in one piece. The best way to do this that I have found is to peel one layer of the wax paper off. Then take a plate and line it with plastic wrap. Invert the cream cheese layer onto the plate so the remaining piece of wax paper is on the top. Slowly peel off the wax paper and put in the fridge to chill/set for 15 minutes. When pulling out of the fridge, insert the cream cheese layer by flipping over into the pie crust so that the plastic wrap is on top and slowly pull off the plastic wrap. Once the cream cheese is in the pie crust, Store in the fridge.
- Now, there are some “Cream Cheese Gods” among us who can get away with skipping the step with the plastic wrap and chilling the cream cheese and can just peel of the wax paper, invert so that the cream cheese is layered on top of the pie crust, and then pull the wax paper off. If you are feeling brave and want to try this step, be my guest! Worst case scenario is you reroll the cream cheese and start over!
- In a small sauce pan, mix one cup of strawberries and ⅔ cup of water. Bring to a simmer.
- While we are waiting on the berries and water to simmer, in a separate bowl you should mix the cornstarch, sugar, and remaining ⅓ cup of water.
- Once the sauce pan is simmering, add this cornstarch mixture into the pan and bring to a boil. Stir constantly to ensure nothing burns and everything thickens evenly.
- After a few minutes of the mixture boiling, it should be thick (no longer getting any thicker).
- Remove from heat and cool. I recommend putting in the fridge to speed up the cooling process.
- Once the mixture is fully cooled, pour into the cream cheese pie shell and top with remaining 3 cups of strawberries.
- Store in the fridge up to one week (yea right, like it will last that long).
- Don’t remove the pie crust from the pie pan/dish it is in. Otherwise, you will end up with a strawberry pizza instead of a strawberry pie.
- My In-Laws have a different order to the layers of the pie. They have the pie start with the pie crust, then the cream cheese, then the strawberries, and then the strawberry sauce (whereas my recipe has the top layer being the strawberries). Either way, it tastes great, but topping with the strawberries instead of the sauce makes the pie prettier.
- You could use frozen strawberries for the sauce (1 cup), but not for the filling/topping the pie (3 cups).
Shout out to my Mother-In-Law, Terri, who always shares her recipes with me when I ask (and lets me edit them) and is frankly happy to pass down the responsibility of baking them for the family. (Lucky for me we have to travel a little ways to get to my In-Laws, so I get to make them at home and Terri makes them for us when we visit. It is a win-win for me. Thank you, Terri!) As always, thanks to Grandma for having all these recipes to begin with!