Monday, April 21, 2008

Strawberry Almond Pie

I love fruit and am a fruit purist. I love it in its natural form without any adornment. My husband grew up in Mexico City, where they have the most amazing fruit. His family was thoroughly amused that I pretty much parked myself next to their fruit bowl and shoveled in Ataulfo mangos, little bite sized plums, and miniature bananas by the dozen.

So because of my love of fruit, I have a love-hate relationship with fruit pies. I really hate overly sweet pies that are more goo than fruit. I started making this pie during strawberry picking season after my roommate and I went strawberry picking and I could not possibly eat the strawberries before they went mushy. And I am just not a fan of frozen strawberries or strawberry jam.

This recipe is great. The "goo" is made from crushed strawberries, so it honors the fruit. The almond extract also adds a nice bit of richness. I usually cut back on the sugar in the recipe as I like my desserts not overly sweet.

And for you chocolate dessert purists out there (ehem, KRISTA) who do not believe that fruit is dessert, this pie makes an excellent breakfast.

1 1/2 cups crushed pecan
shortbread cookies
1/4 cup blanched slivered
1/3 cup butter, melted
6 cups fresh strawberries,
1 cup white sugar
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1/3 cup water
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon almond extract

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C).
2. In small bowl, stir together all crust ingredients. Press on bottom and up sides of a 9-inch pie plate. Bake for 8 minutes. Cool completely.
3. Mash enough strawberries to equal 1 cup. In 2-quart saucepan, combine sugar and cornstarch. Stir in mashed berries and water. Cook over medium heat, stirring constantly, until mixture thickens and comes to a full boil (8 to 15 minutes). Boil 1 minute; remove from heat.
4. Stir in salt and almond extract; cool 10 minutes. Fill baked crust with remaining fresh strawberries; pour cooked mixture over fresh berries. Refrigerate at least 3 hours. Garnish with whipped cream and walnuts if desired.

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