This Fresh Strawberry Pie is such a simple dessert but no matter, it will create a legion of devotees. It’s really best when strawberries are at the height of their season so grab some now and let’s get this made!
The recipe originally came from a copy of a 1970’s version of The Better Homes and Gardens New Cookbook. Although not so new anymore; this was the very first cookbook someone gave to me so it’s more than 15 35 years old! It’s not where I go to find the most elegant recipes or inspiration but it’s still my best resource for weights, measures and substitutions. Not to mention a couple of long time favorites including this pie and my Sour Cream and Bacon Potato Salad.
You might wonder why it took me so long to publish this dessert. Maybe because it is so simple? I’ve even dolled it up for the blog with this Strawberry Tart with Chocolate Ganache and Mascarpone Cream but this is the version I make the most. Simple, elegant, delicious.
That book and this recipe certainly bring back a lot of memories of my first trials in the kitchen when I was just a girl. Yes that girl – proud I could catch a football AND make a great dessert! And you’ve heard me say I’m tall…seems back in the ‘olden days’ I was tall AND skinny…hence the years of being called ‘Jolly Green Giant.’ But I wasn’t really green; except like the Hulk when someone called me that! Anyway I digress…
The original recipe simply called for fresh strawberries to be placed into a pie shell with a strawberry flavored glaze poured over the fruit. It tasted great but anything leftover in the pie pan resulted in a mushy bottom crust, so I decided long ago to add a layer of cream cheese sweetened with sugar and vanilla to act as a barrier between the crust and the filling.
Sometime in the past several years, I decided to start using Mascarpone cheese in lieu of the cream cheese. Mascarpone has a mellower tang than cream cheese and is richer and more buttery so it’s elevated this dessert once again. In a pinch, I’ll still use cream cheese, but use mascarpone cheese if it’s available, it’s meant to be paired with fruits and is divine in this Fresh Strawberry Pie. It was a bonus to the flavor too; the crisp shell, that sweet creamy layer and fresh berries were even better according to my testers (OK, family) and me!
Although originally done in a pie shell, I’ve also used a tart pan; so either work for this recipe but the pie shell just means more berries…that’s good right? Lot of berries piled high just looks so pretty and who doesn’t want their desserts to look pretty!
The addition of balsamic vinegar was a nod to a trend of the day pairing this wonderful vinegar with fruits, but it’s a good one. Not super noticeable actually but it does take the glaze to a higher level and the extra bonus is the richer color too. The original recipe calls for adding food coloring to the glaze and I have always sort of hated that. While the glaze color is not the same bright red as it is with the artificial ingredient, as long as your berries are red and plump and juicy it doesn’t matter; they are the star. There is nothing better for a summertime dessert; easy to make, fresh and so delicious!
I used my favorite pie crust recipe this time around but I’ve also used the Pillsbury pie crusts that you roll out into your own pie plate. Make whatever works for you but just make it!
Fresh Strawberry Pie
The best of summer with a crisp crust, some rich mascarpone and then nothing but whole strawberries.
- 1 Baked and Cooled 9" pie or tart shell - I won't lie, I have used Pillsbury frozen pie shells; the kind that come rolled out and that you place in your own pie or tart pan.
For the Mascarpone Cheese Layer
- 4 oz mascarpone (or cream cheese)
- 3 tsp sugar, to taste
- 1-2 Tbsp milk or half and half
- 1 tsp vanilla
For the Glaze
- 1 cup fresh strawberries
- 1 cup water
- 3/4 cup sugar
- 3 Tbsp corn starch
- 1 Tbsp Balsamic vinegar (optional)
For the Pie
- 3 cups fresh strawberries
- Fresh Whipped Cream
- Prepare your pie crust and cool thoroughly.
- Using blender or mixer (I use a stick blender), mix mascarpone with sugar, milk and vanilla and spread in the bottom of your cooled pie shell. Cool in fridge for 30 minutes.
- Crush 1 cup strawberries and cook with 1 cup water for 2 minutes. Sieve berries and return juice to pan. Add sugar, cornstarch and balsamic vinegar; cook and stir til thickened and bubbly. Let cool while preparing the pie.
- Assemble fresh berries in one layer of the pie shell. Pour glaze over each berry. Depending on the size of your berries, you might be able to pile some more on top; just be sure some of the glaze covers each berry. There may be leftover sauce if making in a tart pan so just pour enough over berries to fill and not flow over edge.
- Chill for at least one hour before serving; more if possible.
- Serve with a dollop of whipped cream.