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Pi Day Recipe: My Favorite Strawberry Pie

Strawberry Cheese Pie

Let them eat cake. Me? I’ll go for the pie.
Rhubarb, banana cream, boysenberry, peach … I am a sucker for pie, on Pi Day or any day.
I love it hot under a pooling scoop of vanilla or cold straight out of the fridge for breakfast. It had a lead role in “Waitress,” (and left me craving pie for weeks) and cameoed in a pathetic song in the gawdawful movie “Michael.” (Thanks for making us see that one over Christmas break in ninth grade, Dad.)
There are some great shops for pie, including Four & Twenty Blackbirds in Brooklyn, Little Pie Co in Midtown and Whisked and Dangerously Delicious Pies in D.C. I love them each for their gooey, flaky, towering slices.
But when it comes to baking my own, I’ll take a preview of spring flavors, please.
Strawberry PieThis Strawberry Cheese Pie is one that my grandmother loved to serve at dinner parties. It is fantastically retro, but ideal for spring. Plus it combines everything we all crave about pie. The fresh fruit, lemon and cream cheese play a tart and sweet tango that is all held together by the crunch of a seductive, brilliantly gluten-free crust (made simply from butter and shredded coconut).
The bold red berries are beautiful and juicy, blanketed in a ruby-red glaze.
I have co-opted the recipe for my own use. With a few tweaks and updates, it’s a knock-out that transcends the decades since it was first published (in 1947). You can make it in advance and leave it to chill in the fridge. Apart from baking the crust, it’s oven-free and something I obsess over as crocuses pop up and strawberry season beckons.
Strawberry Cheese Pie
(Adapted from Helen Corbitt’s Cookbook, 1947)
For the Crust:
2 tbsp butter
1 ½ cups finely shredded coconut
For the Glaze: *
3 cups strawberries
1 cup sugar
3 tbs cornstarch
For the Pie:
1 8-ounce package neufchatel or cream cheese, at room temperature**
½ cup sugar
2 tbs lemon juice
1 tsp grated lemon rind
2 tbs cream, or whole milk
Fresh ripe strawberries, hulled and sliced
Preheat the oven to 300 degrees.
To make the crust, spread the softened butter evenly on the bottom and sides of an 8- or 9-inch pie pan, completely coating the pan.Crust
You can get a snowy shred on coconut using the food processor, if needed. Liberally sprinkle the coconut over the pan, and press evenly into the butter. Use more butter and coconut as needed to patch holes. It’s better to have too much crust than one that falls apart at first slice.
Bake for 15-20 minutes, until golden, then set on a rack to cool completely.
GlazeMeanwhile, make the glaze. Mash (or blend) berries with the sugar and let stand 30 minutes. Stir in cornstarch, then transfer mixture to a small pot and cook over medium-high until thick and clear, about 8 minutes. Strain through fine mesh sieve or chinois and let cool to room temperature.
To make the pie, combine the cream cheese, sugar, lemon juice, rind, and cream in stand mixer or large bowl; blend to a whipped-cream-like consistency.
Fill the now-cooled pie shell with the cream cheese mixture, then top decoratively with sliced strawberries in a circular pattern.
Pour cooled glaze over the berries and refrigerate until ready to serve, at least 25 minutes.
*You can refrigerate any leftover glaze and use it to top ice cream, or spread on biscuits.
** Neufchatel will lighten the fat a bit.

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