This recipe is for me, or rather, for my future self in April or May of every next year until I am planted. Mid-spring is when strawberries in Arkansas fulfill their finest destiny as luscious, flavorful fruit, ripe to the core. I see no reason to eat strawberries any other time of year, or to procure them from anyone but local growers, because veering from those dictates is to guarantee a bland and woody outcome. Some absolutes in life should be followed, blindly and zealously.
I’m going to want to make this pie again.
Maybe you, dear reader, live in a place where strawberries are just now coming into their prime. If so, make this pie. If some other berry is available locally and ripe now, get some and make this pie. Sliced peaches would be delicious, too. Essentially, make this pie with the most perfect, flavorful fruit you can find. (But not apples or pears, because that would be weird.)
9-inch single pie crust, fully baked and cooled
1 8-ounce block of cream cheese, softened to room temperature
1 cup of powdered sugar
Pinch of salt
1/2 cup thawed whipped topping, like Cool Whip
A short squeeze of fresh lemon juice
About 24 perfectly ripe strawberries
Two tablespoons good quality strawberry jam, melted
Combine the cream cheese, powdered sugar, salt, Cool Whip, and lemon juice in a medium bowl. With an electric hand mixer, beat until smooth. Spread the mixture evenly over the bottom of the baked, cooled pie crust, and refrigerate while you prepare the strawberries.
Rinse, dry, and cap about two dozen beautiful, perfectly ripe strawberries. Slice them in half vertically. Retrieve the pie from the fridge. Starting at the outer ridge of the pastry, arrange a tight ring of strawberry halves, standing stem-side down at an angle. Keep making successive rings of strawberries, cut sides up, until no more will fit. Brush the strawberries gently with a little melted strawberry jam, for shine.
Store the pie in the fridge, and serve it the same day it’s made only because it’s prettiest then, and ripe strawberries don’t keep. But looks aren’t everything, and I savored every bite of strawberry pie leftovers the day after it was made. Breakfast, lunch, and dinner until it was gone, people, although I did share.