Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Mile-High Strawberry Pie

This really happened!  Our friends Paul and Jenn had us over for Memorial Day dinner outside, and their table really was this beautiful!  Wouldn't you think it was straight out of a magazine?  I mean, Jenn knocked this thing out of the park, and it made me glad I brought my pie in a true presentation piece instead of a foil pan.  Yowsa!

When I knew I was leaving Alabama, I knew I'd be leaving my grandmother's stash of Southern Living magazines behind.  What did that mean?  I needed to become a subscriber myself.  You know, grow up, pay for the publication instead of mooching off your grandmother with her old copies, that sort of thing.  I now enjoy getting my little bit of South in the mail every few weeks, but I have to admit that I read very little.  Instead, I skip to the recipe section and rip out everything I want to make.  These mini pies were in the April issue, and I had a feeling they'd make it to my Memorial Day table.  I was correct, but I moved to the Mega Strawberry Pie version at the last minute when I ran out of time.  The result was a huge, delicious strawberry dessert that I'll be sure to repeat sometime.  For now, let me share it with you. 

Mile-High Mini Strawberry Pie

Pastry Crusts
1/4 cup powdered sugar
2 (14.1-oz.) packages refrigerated piecrusts
Creamy Lemon Filling
1 1/2 (8-oz.) packages cream cheese, softened                            
1 tablespoon sour cream                               
1/2 cup granulated sugar                             
2 teaspoons lemon zest                              
1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice                

Strawberry Topping
1 1/2 cups coarsely chopped fresh strawberries                
1 cup granulated sugar                
2 tablespoons cornstarch                               
1 tablespoon butter
10 cup hulled fresh strawberries                       

Vanilla Cream
1 cup heavy cream
1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract                
3 tablespoons powdered sugar                

1. Prepare Crust: Preheat oven to 425°. Sprinkle work surface with 1 Tbsp. powdered sugar. Roll 1 piecrust into a 12 1/2-inch circle on surface, and cut into 3 (6-inch) rounds. Repeat with remaining 3 piecrusts and 3 Tbsp. powdered sugar to make 12 rounds. Fit 6 rounds, sugar sides down, into each mold of a 6-cavity mini pie pan; fold edges under, and crimp. Prick bottom and sides with a fork. Chill remaining 6 rounds.

2. Bake at 425° for 8 minutes or until golden brown. Cool on a wire rack 5 minutes. Remove crusts from pan to wire rack, and cool completely. Cool pan completely. Repeat procedure with remaining 6 piecrust rounds.

3. Prepare Creamy Lemon Filling: Beat cream cheese and sour cream at medium speed with an electric mixer until smooth. Add 1/2 cup granulated sugar and next 2 ingredients; beat until smooth and fluffy. Spread about 2 1/2 Tbsp. filling into each cooled piecrust; cover with plastic wrap, and chill until ready to serve (up to 24 hours).

4. Prepare Strawberry Topping: Process 1 1/2 cups chopped strawberries in a blender or food processor until smooth, and press through a wire-mesh strainer into a 3-qt. saucepan, using back of a spoon to squeeze out juice; discard pulp. Stir 1 cup granulated sugar into juice in pan.

5. Whisk together cornstarch and 1/4 cup water; gradually whisk cornstarch mixture into strawberry mixture. Bring to a boil over medium heat, and cook, whisking constantly, 1 minute. Remove from heat, and whisk in butter. Cool 15 minutes.

6. Toss together strawberry mixture and 10 cups hulled strawberries gently in a large bowl until coated. (Halve some berries; leave others whole.) Cover; chill 3 hours or until cold.

7. Prepare Vanilla Cream: Beat heavy cream and vanilla at medium-high speed until foamy; gradually add powdered sugar, beating until soft peaks form.

8. Spoon about 1/2 cup Strawberry Topping into each pie; top with Vanilla Cream. Serve immediately.

Mega Strawberry Pie: Preheat oven to 425°. Reduce 1/4 cup powdered sugar to 2 Tbsp. and piecrusts to 1/2 (14.1-oz.) package. Sprinkle surface with 2 Tbsp. powdered sugar. Roll 1 piecrust into an 11-inch circle on prepared surface. Fit piecrust, sugar side down, in a 9-inch pie plate; fold edges under, and crimp. Prick bottom and sides with a fork. Bake 10 minutes or until golden. Cool completely on a wire rack. Proceed with recipe as directed in Steps 3 through 8, spooning all of Creamy Lemon Filling into prepared crust, and topping with all of Strawberry Topping and Vanilla Cream. Makes 8 to 10 servings Hands-on 40 min.; Total 4 hours, 50 min.

This recipe is from Southern Living.  If you subscribe, you won't regret it.

There are few things that make me smile like a huge colander full of perfect strawberries.  Add the fact that said berries were on sale, and I'll downright beam.  Take it in, friends... just take. it. in.

The best thing to do on a recipe with several steps is simply to get everything out and dive in.  Strawberries are washed and drained in a Stainless Mesh Colander.  I have scrapers, the Measuring Cup Set, the Measuring Spoon Set, and the Large Grooved Cutting Board ready to go.  My bottle of water also wandered into this shot because hydration is important.  Yeah... that.

I adore the Microplane Zester.  This is a size made specifically for the Pampered Chef, and let me just tell you that it's amazing!  I can get my zest right into my Pinch Bowl with this, and I don't have anything going willy-nilly on me.  I have other ingredients measured into a cup and spoons beside me.

Ok, so my lemon was massive.  It was so large that I cut the ends off to maximize my juice when I put it in the Citrus Press.  Since the juice and zest are going in the recipe at the same time, I put both in the same Pinch Bowl.

Why do the Pinch Bowls have pour spouts?  Because pouring an ingredient into a stand mixer on medium speed is no time to make a mess.  It's the little things.

Settle in because it takes a while to chop cups upon cups of strawberries.  The good news is that you can make it a lot more fun by using an awesome knife that doesn't require sawing.  My go-to for berries, grapes, and other small items is the 3 1/2" Paring Knife from the Forged Cutlery Collection.  More on that in a bit.

We have to make a strawberry puree.  Enter: Manual Food Processor.

A few presses on the lever, and you're done.  Just take the blade out, and use the base as your bowl.

This is a case where it's soooo nice to have the right tool for the job!  I'm using the 5" Strainer, which has a double-fine mesh design, over a 3-Quart Saucepan from the Executive Cookware Collection.  Notice that my strainer has a lip that hugs my pan so I can be hands-free.  Also notice that the lip is covered in silicone to avoid scratching my cookware's surface.  Have I told you how much I love Pampered Chef products?  14 years in the business, and these things still excite me!  That's the Mini Mix 'n Scraper that I'm using to strain the puree. 

A 2-Cup Prep Bowl and the Stainless Mini Whisk pair perfectly for the cornstarch concoction.  I've got a 1-Cup Prep Bowl there with the strawberry pulp my recipe told me to discard.  I interpreted that as, "Save pulp for your next smoothie."

Dicing strawberries is serious business.  Here's my method: Cut tops off all berries.  Quarter berries.  Go back through tops, using stems as handles, and cut off usable parts.  Most people don't do this last part, but if you've got a good knife, it doesn't take long, and in the case of this pie, I was able to yield an extra cup of berries.  Another option is to just core all of the berries before slicing them, but I've found that I just like doing the whole job with my 3 1/2" Paring Knife.  Love this thing!

My berries are in a Stainless Mixing Bowl, and I'm pouring the cooked liquid from the 3-Qt. Saucepan.  Notice the Stainless/Silicone Sauce Whisk in the background.  With that, I was able to whisk the mixture without scratching my pan.  Next, I'll gently toss the whole deal with the Mix 'n Scraper.

It's time for the Deep Dish Pie Plate from the Stoneware Collection! I love, love, love this piece!  I use it for pies and quiches, but I also do side dishes in it because it's so deep and makes a beautiful presentation.  Stoneware heats evenly throughout, so I don't ever have to worry about scorching in here.  That's a good thing when your finished product is going to your friends' house for a holiday meal.  You can see that I used my Baker's Roller to roll out my pie crust.  Then there's a pokey tool that clips inside the handle to poke holes in the crust before baking.

Ok, so all of the parts are ready and cooled or refrigerated, so now it's just about the assembly.  Oh, and the licking of the bowls.  That's an important step, too... Anyway, my cream and strawberries are in Stainless Mixing Bowls, and my lemon cream is in the stand mixer bowl.  Each has a Mix 'n Scraper, Mini Mix 'n Scraper, or Classic Scraper inside.  Ok, take a deep breath, and...

Happy Memorial Day, and happy dessert making all summer long, friends!

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