Recipe: Strawberry Icebox Pie

If ramps are the first taste of spring, then strawberries are most certainly the first taste of summer. Each year as we take our first bite of our first strawberry, a sense of joyous relief falls over us and we know that summer is truly here. But like all good things in life, strawberry season goes by in a flash, and it's up to us to make the most of it.

We wanted to celebrate this limited-time-only, ruby-red harvest this week, but when we sat down to work out the recipe, we had no idea where to start. There are just so many delicious, delectable, delightful ways to eat strawberries! Our favorite, of course, is to eat 'em as you pick 'em - but that's not much of a recipe. Other dishes on the list? Strawberry rhubarb pie, strawberry jam, strawberries and cream, strawberries and ice cream, strawberry pancakes, strawberry shortcake... you can imagine it's a very long list.

Anyway, rather than pick just one, we decided to pile as many strawberry preparations as we could into one pie plate, and here's where we landed – Strawberry Icebox Pie. There's something for everyone, and a little bit of everything for us – graham cracker crust, jam, mousse, cream and fresh berries. It looks like a lot of work, but it's not – we promise! And it's worth it. So, so worth it! 

Strawberry Icebox Pie
+ 15 graham crackers (about 1 ½ cups when crushed)
+ ¾ stick butter, melted
+ 1/3 cup sugar
+ 1 tsp salt

Jam Layer:
+ 1 lb. strawberries, hulled
+ 1⁄3 cup sugar
+ 1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch

Mousse Layer: 
+ 1 lb. strawberries, hulled
+ 1⁄2 cup sugar
+ 1⁄2 tbsp. lemon juice
+ 1⁄2 tsp. salt
+ 3 eggs, separated into yolks and whites
+ 1 cup heavy cream
+ 1 1⁄2 tsp. vanilla extract

Whipped Cream:
+ 1 cup heavy cream
+ 2 tbsp sugar


To make the crust:
1. Preheat oven to 350°.
2. Crush the graham crackers. A food processor is the easiest way, but you can also put the crackers in a heavy zip-lock bag, wrap the bag in a dishtowel, and whack away at it with a rolling pin.
3. Mix all crust ingredients until well-combined. Dump into a buttered 9-inch pie pan or spring-form pan and press firmly onto the bottom and up the sides. (If using a spring form pan, lay parchment paper in the bottom and then butter.)
4. Bake for 10 minutes. Set pan on wire rack to cool.

To make the jam layer:
1. Chop about half of the strawberries into 1/2-inch pieces. Set aside.
2. Put remaining strawberries in a medium saucepan and crush them using a fork. Add sugar and cornstarch to the pan and cook over medium-low heat until mixture comes to a boil.
3. Remove from heat and stir in remaining chopped strawberries. Cool completely.
4. Spread cooled jam in the bottom of the cooled crust. If your jam seems very watery, use a slotted spoon and transfer only the chunky parts. Refrigerate the whole thing – crust and jam - or put in the freezer until cool.

To make the mousse layer:
1. Puree strawberries in a blender or food processor until smooth and transfer to a large saucepan. Add sugar, lemon juice, salt, and egg yolks, then whisk until smooth. Put the saucepan over medium heat and bring to a simmer.
2. Cook, whisking occasionally, for about 15 minutes, or until the mixture has thickened a little. Remove from heat, allow to cool for 10 minutes, then put in the refrigerator until cold – about 30 minutes.
3. Whisk egg whites in a bowl until stiff peaks form and add to cooled strawberry mixture. Fold gently until combined then set aside.
4. Whisk cream and vanilla in a clean bowl until stiff peaks form, add to strawberry mixture. Fold until combined then gently pour into pan, layering on top of cooled jam.
5. Refrigerate the pie or put in the freezer until the mousse sets a bit.

To make the whipped cream:
1. Mix cream and sugar in a bowl. Whip until firm peaks form. Spread over mouse layer. Put in the freezer for a few hours or overnight. One hour before serving, take the cake out of freezer if you're using a spring form pan, release it now) and put in the fridge to thaw slowly. Before serving, top with strawberries.

Note: This recipe originally appeared on RuralIntelligence.com on June 15, 2015. It's been back-dated here on our blog so that it falls, seasonally, in the right place.

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