After a trip to a Pick-Your-Own strawberry patch this past weekend, I had some berries begging for something more than smoothies or cereal. Here’s what I came up with. It’s a no-sugar (just honey) added, flourless pie with a combination cooked puree filling and fresh berries.
As we dived in, we had the same discussion we have for many of my creations, the one where I wonder if “normal” people would like this, considering that it isn’t loaded with sugar and the crust has a different texture and taste compared to typical pastry.
We came to the conclusion we usually do–it probably wouldn’t fly with those used to the sugar glaze version piled high with sweetened whipped cream, but that it was perfect in the way we like. That is, it tastes like real fruit, it has just enough sweetness, and it leaves you feeling good, not kind of ugh like most traditional desserts.
When I do unsweetened desserts, it always makes me smile when I think of the occasion, eons ago, when my mother served her famous unsweetened cheesecake to her mother, known for her ability to sidestep hardball questions with consummate Southern gentlewoman tact. It went something like this:
“So how do you like it, mother?”
Grandmother, with a sweet smile: “Honey, you. are. the. BEST. cook!”
Here’s the recipe:
Fresh Strawberry Pie
For the crust:
1 1/2 cups sliced almonds
1 cup rolled oats
1/3 cup honey
2 T softened butter
1 tsp vanilla
In a food processor, add the almonds and oats and pulse until ground. Add in the remaining ingredients and pulse until everything is combined. You should have a soft dough. Butter a pie dish. Fill a bowl with water to use to keep your fingers damp while you press the dough out into the pan. Plop the dough into the pie dish and, using your wet fingers, press the dough into the pan, up the sides, etc., until it is evenly distributed in the dish. Take a fork and prick the bottom and sides and make a decorative edge if you like. Don’t press the edge too thin with the fork or it will be easier to scorch.
Bake the pastry in a 325 deg. F oven for about 15-20 minutes, until golden brown, keeping a better eye on yours than I did with mine so it doesn’t scorch. Remove from oven and allow to cool.
For the filling:
2 generously packed cups of sliced strawberries
1/3 cup honey
3 T cornstarch
1 tsp vanilla or almond extract
1 T butter
In a blender or food processor, puree the berries. Remove about a half a cup to a small dish and add the cornstarch. Blend. Pour the puree into a medium saucepan, blend in the cornstarch mixture and honey and place over med-low heat. With a wire wisk, stir the mixture until it has thickened and begun to boil. Add in the pinch of salt, vanilla, and butter. Stir to melt the butter and combine and remove from heat.
Allow filling to cool.
Meanwhile wash and cap the remaining strawberries. It will take about a pint more.
Once the pastry and filling are cool, spread the filling into the crust.
For a little extra shine and sweetness, you can brush the berries with a little warmed honey. Or not.
If you like, serve with whipped cream. Unsweetened, sweetened, honey-sweetened with a touch of vanilla, pick your poison.