Friday, June 4, 2010

Fresh Strawberry Tarts/Pie

Rating: 5 stars
Prep time: Easy-medium

My mom always makes fresh strawberry pie in the spring, when NC strawberries are abundant, delicious, and cheap. I was just dying for some strawberry pie this spring, but we just didn't have enough in the budget for the 4 pounds of strawberries it would take—plus, two people don't exactly need a whole pie to themselves. Instead, we created these darling strawberry tarts. I won't tell you how many of these we've eaten in the past week....

For those more interested in the pie, I've put the pie measurements in parentheses. The tart recipe is intended to yield one dozen tarts, but it totally depends on how thinly you roll your pie crust—the first time I didn't roll it out very thinly, and we only ended up with 7 or 8 tarts.

1 9-inch pie crust (I used this recipe)
1/2 cup mashed or pureed strawberries (1 cup)
1/2 cup sugar (1 cup)
1 1/2 t. cornstarch (1 T)
1/4 cup water (1/2 cup)
1 oz cream cheese (3 oz)
1/4-1/3 t. sugar (1 t.)
1/2 T milk (1-2 T)
1 lb chopped strawberries (app. 4 lb strawberries, whole), less the amount you used for the puree
Whipped cream (I definitely recommend using real, freshly-whipped cream! Then again, I recommend that for just about anything) for topping

For tarts: Heat oven to 375. Roll pie crust as thin as possible (really, as thin as you can get it without it falling apart on you). Punch circles in pie crust with the biggest cup or other circle you can find—we used a 32oz hospital mug, which I think is about 5 inches in diameter. Gently stretch circles with your fingers, and place into cups of muffin tin. The edges of the crust should be at least as tall as or taller than the edges of your muffin tin. Prick crust with fork (including sides) and bake for 8-12 minutes or until very lightly golden. Once crusts are done baking, gently remove from muffin tins and let cool on a plate. While crusts are baking, mix sugar and cornstarch together. Fold in pureed strawberries and combine. Add water; heat until mixture has boiled for 1 minute (on the stove or in the microwave, either works—if you heat it on the stove, be sure to stir regularly). Let cool. Combine cream cheese, sugar, and milk. Once crusts are cooled, spoon a dollop of the cream cheese mixture into the bottom of each crust. Spoon a few of the chopped strawberries into crust (don't overdo it—these will fill up fast!), using the spoon to pack them in if necessary. Gently spoon or pour glaze over the strawberries. Top with another layer of chopped strawberries. Add a dollop of whipped cream, and enjoy! They can be eaten right away (and trust me, we did), but the next-day leftovers are even better.

For pie: Heat oven to 375. Roll out pie crust and place in pie dish. Prick bottom and sides with fork and bake for 8 minutes (or until done). While crust is cooking, mix sugar and cornstarch. Fold in pureed strawberries and combine. Add water; heat until mixture has boiled for 1 minute. Let cool. Combine cream cheese, sugar, and milk. Spread over bottom of (cooled) pie crust (if you don't let it cool a little, it will melt the cream cheese... ask me how I know!). Spread one layer of strawberries, sliced in half, over bottom of pie (cut sides up). Layer glaze over strawberries. Continue to layer cut strawberries and glaze until pie crust is full; top with whole berries. Serve with whipped cream.