My first memory of a strawberry is not of picking them at a farm when I was younger. It is not even of a finding the super fresh, super tiny, super tasty ones at a farmers market. Nope. My first memory of a strawberry is of one in a pie. Don’t judge! I don’t know why I never thought that fruit was real when I was young. But this time, I don’t think I would have it any other way. Because that pie is still the best pie I have ever had, which makes my warped view of berries worth it.
Do you remember way back when department stores had those elaborate food departments? They had candy everywhere, and hand-crafted chocolates, and gourmet artisanal foods. It was magical, this place, that was, by far (and not surprisingly), my favorite section of any department store. We had to walk through there to get to all of the other boring departments. But I would stall and stop, and my mom would let me, because this food department would entice everyone.
The only time we really got to linger, though, was when we were picking up a strawberry cream pie. It was a graham cracker pie crust, filled with fresh, sliced strawberries enrobed in this gooey, thick strawberry flavored jam, all topped with mountains of sweetened whipped cream. This pie usually meant company, but my parents would get it once a summer, just because, because they were just so smart!
Those food departments don’t exist anymore, which is so, so sad. In fact, that department store doesn’t even exist anymore. Ever since, still, once a year, we would attempt to recreate the pie. It was quite easy to put together, but that magnificent effect of picking it up in that magical place was obviously gone. With these mini pies, I finally decided that we no longer need to try to recreate, but just think of it as something new. But man, these pies sure do taste familiar!
Mini Strawberry Cream Pies
When we first started making this pie at home, we found a strawberry flavored pie filling that was very, well, gelatinous. I mean, don’t get me wrong, it was delicious. And tasted pretty much exactly like the pie we bought, but we liked to think that the actual pie was a bit more natural. In these pies, instead of thickening with a jam or filling, I instead used leftover graham cracker crumbs from the crust.
1 quart strawberries, rinsed and quartered
2-3 tbsp. sugar (depending on the sweetness of the berries)
juice from 1/2 lemon
Mix together strawberries, sugar and lemon juice until well-incorporated. Cover and place in the refrigerator for 2 hours.
9 full graham crackers
4 tsp. sugar
6 tbsp. butter, melted
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a food processor, or in a ziplock bag with rolling pin, crush graham crackers until they are fine crumbs. Mix in sugar, salt, and butter. Spray two mini-muffin tins with non-stick spray. Place one tablespoon of crust mixture into each muffin cup. Set aside the remaining crumbs. Using the back of the tablespoon measure, press the crumbs to form a crust. Bake for 7-8 minutes until the crusts are golden brown. Let cool completely.
Take filling out of refrigerator and drain, reserving the liquid. Mix in the reserved graham crack crumbs into the filling. Fill each crust with a spoonful of filling. Top with whipped cream topping.
For Whipped Cream Topping:
1 cup heavy cream
reserved juices from strawberry filling
2 tbsp. sugar
Whip together cream, sugar and reserved juices. Spoon whipped topping on top of each pie. Eat immediately.