Tuesday, June 7, 2011

icebox strawberry pie

I've lived in New York for 10 years now and it's been years since I've really felt spring.....The winter season seems incredibly long and before you know it, it's hot & humid and with a blink of an eye.....it's Memorial Day and summer!!!
A couple of weeks ago I spent some much needed quality time with my family in San Diego, CA. Luckily I was there during the perfect time of the year.....strawberry season!!! This icebox strawberry pie tasted like cool springtime. The organic strawberries were bright red and super duper sweet. It was kind of a shame that I mixed them into this pie when the fruit was good as-is.....

icebox strawberry pie
courtesy of Cook's Country via Cook's Illustrated

2 pounds frozen strawberries ***I used TJ's organic frozen strawberries***
2 tablespoons lemon juice
2 tablespoons water ***If I make this pie again, I would omit one of the tablespoons of water. The berries release enough of their own juices, that I feel this added liquid is not necessary***
1 tablespoon unflavored gelatin ***If you're using packets, 1 packet is just shy of a tablespoon. The pie in the end could use a little "firmness", so increase the amount of gelatin to 2 tablespoons or 2 packets. I need to make this pie again to test the increase of gelatin, but I am confident that "more" will be just ay-oh-kay....***
1 cup of sugar
pinch of salt

1 pound of fresh strawberries, hulled and sliced thin ***I saved half of the berries for the top of the pie/tart. You can do the same and make it pretty, or just fold all of them in***
1 (9-inch) pie shell, baked and cooled ***I used a shortbread-like crust by Martha Stewart, doubled the recipe and used a shallow tart pan instead of a pie pan*** 

1. COOK FROZEN BERRIES Cook frozen berries in a large saucepan over medium-low heat until berries begin to release juice, about 3 minutes. Increase heat to medium-high and cook, stirring frequently, until thick and jam-like, about 25 minutes. The mixture should measure 2 cups. Cool. ***It is super important that you reduce this mixture to 2 cups, even less if possible***

2. ADD GELATIN Combine lemon juice, water and gelatin in small bowl. Let stand until gelatin is softened and mixture has thickened, about 5 minutes. Stir gelatin mixture, sugar and salt into cooled berry mixture and return to simmer, about 2 minutes. Transfer to a bowl and cool to room temperature, about 30 - 45 minutes.

3. ADD FRESH BERRIES Fold fresh berries into filling. Spread evenly in pie shell and refrigerate until set, about 4 hours. Filled pie can be refrigerated for 24 hours.

Serve with lightly sweetened whipped cream or make the following topping from the original recipe.

4 ounces cream cheese, softened
3 tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 cup heavy cream

4. MAKE TOPPING With an electric mixer on medium speed, beat cream cheese, sugar and vanilla until smooth, about 30 seconds, With mixer running, add cream and whip until stiff peaks form, about 2 minutes.

Some helpful hints from Cook's Country

  • We used 2 pounds of frozen berries (which worked well for cooking and cost less than fresh) and cooked them down in a dry saucepan until they released their juices and the mixture was thick, concentrated, and flavorful.
  • Be sure that the reduced berries measure 2 cups exactly; if the mixture measures any more, the filling will be loose.
  • Because strawberries are low in pectin, the natural thickener found in citrus fruits and many other plants, we added some lemon juice, which perked up the flavor and tightened the texture of the filling a little. To thicken the filling further, we added a bit of unflavored gelatin, which produced a clean-slicing, not-too-bouncy pie.
  • After stirring in the gelatin—which we combined with the lemon juice and water—along with sugar and salt, we then stirred in fresh strawberries off the heat. This gave us the big berry flavor we wanted.
  • Diner strawberry pies typically get a squirt of Reddi-wip, but we made our own. We whipped cream cheese into real whipped cream along with vanilla and sugar for a slightly tangy topping that balanced the sweetness of the berries.
  • Use our No-Fear Pie Crust recipe or use your own.

We've just returned from vacation and throughout many German cities/towns, there were strawberry stands with some of the brightest and juiciest strawberries we've ever had.......


  1. I wanted to second that this pie is delicious! We also love their Cook’s Illustrated Fresh Strawberry Pie, which is quite a different style using whole strawberries with a homemade glaze. I have made them both twice each; this is my husband's fav and the CI pie is my fav, but we both love both, and I can’t imagine anyone not loving a slice of this pie! The Easy Chocolate Ice Cream from this issue of Cook's Country is also his favorite chocolate ice cream :)

    1. Isn't it??? I seriously need to re-visit this recipe. Thanks for commenting!!!