This is the perfect fresh strawberry chiffon pie! Light, fresh, creamy and cool, it’s tucked into a flaky homemade pie crust. Not too sweet, and not too filling, you’ll probably want a second piece! (I did.)
As I write this, I’m looking at the trees outside. They’re blowing in the wind – the hot wind. It’s summertime in North Texas, and even though the temperature is a balmy (to us) 85 degrees, it feels like 91. Because… humidity.
So the last thing I want to do is spend hours in the kitchen with the oven on. Or standing at the stove. But I want pie for dessert tonight. The family wants pie. And I don’t want to spend hours making it. What to do?
That’s where this pie comes in. It’s simple, uses very few ingredients, and it makes use of the fresh, juicy strawberries of the season. Plus, it’s not syrupy sweet the way pies in winter can be. This pie is so light, you’ll swear you have room for a second piece!
It's basically strawberry mousse in a pie crust
Another lovely feature of this pie is that it doesn’t have to go into a standard homemade pie crust. It tastes just as good in a graham cracker crust (preferably homemade). Or how about a crust made from chocolate wafers? That’s how versatile this pie can be. Just think, a black crust with a soft pink filling… gorgeous!
As for being a mousse… when I was 9 years old I experienced a heavenly chocolate dessert so divine that I’ve spent my life searching for the recipe. My family and I were in Portugal and the dessert was chocolate mousse, my first one. Light and airy, I most remember the way the delicious filling “squelched” in my mouth. It was light, yet rich, and that sensation of popping air bubbles fascinated me.
That’s what this pie does. It “squelches.” Strawberry mousse heaven. Coincidentally, it was at this time that I was also introduced to today’s pie.
As for the photo… I came across it recently and couldn’t resist sharing it. It was taken in Portugal, hence those white shoes which were all the rage back then. But… who cut that child’s bangs??
How to make Fresh Strawberry Chiffon Pie
The steps to making this pie are few and very easy:
- Prepare the pie crust (bake it fully – it’s the only time you’ll need the oven)
- Crush the strawberries
- Combine the sugar, gelatin and strawberries in a saucepan. Bring to a boil.
- Cool until the right consistency
- Whip the egg whites (use grade A fresh, unblemished eggs)
- Whip the cream
- Combine strawberry mixture, meringue and cream
- Pile into cooled pie crust and pop in the fridge
- Garnish and enjoy!
The recipe calls for crushed strawberries. I use my trusty vintage potato masher to do the job on a dinner plate. You could use a food processor, but be careful – you want to keep plenty of strawberry chunks for taste and texture in the pie. Just a few pulses should do it.
Or you could get up close and personal with a potato masher.
Some tips to ensure success
1. You will blend the sugar with the dried gelatin first. (I use Knox brand.) Doing this ensures no nasty lumps of gelatin in the liquid. Then you’ll stir in the crushed strawberries.
2. Bring this mixture to a full, rolling boil. This ensures that the gelatin will be completely dissolved. Then put the pan into an ice water “bath.” I use a large metal bowl with a few cups of ice and a few cups of water. This cools the mixture much more quickly than putting it in the fridge, plus you have more control over the consistency.
When the gelatin mixture acts like fresh egg whites, meaning it mounds on itself slightly, it’s ready for the next step.
3. Beat the egg whites with cream of tartar (a stabilizer) until soft peaks form, then add the sugar gradually while beating until stiff. Make SURE there is no grease or specks of egg yolk anywhere in the vicinity of the whites. They are mortal enemies when it comes to making a fluffy meringue, which is what you’re doing here. I always wash my hands, the beaters and the mixing bowl before separating eggs because even slight oils from your hands will cause egg whites to deflate.
4. Beat the cream until stiff, which means until it holds a firm shape in the bowl. If you lift up the beaters, the whipped cream peaks won’t be as stiff as the egg whites, but that’s ok. They’ll be close.
5. Fold the whites into the strawberry mixture first, then the whipped cream.
A note about folding ingredients: Always stir a small amount of the lighter substance into the heavier substance, in this case, the strawberry gelatin mixture. This will “lighten” things up, making it easier to fold the rest of the lighter substance in. So stir a couple of spoonfuls of the meringue into the strawberries, then fold the remaining portion in two or three batches.
Repeat with the whipped cream.
6. Pile the filling into the cooled pie shell, mounding it in the center. Cover with plastic wrap and place in the refrigerator for a few hours.
7. Garnish with lightly sweetened whipped cream and fresh strawberries.
One last tip - it's about the eggs
The egg whites are beaten to form a meringue, but they are not cooked. This is no cause for alarm- just make sure you use clean eggs with no cracks.
Fresh Strawberry Chiffon Pie
- 1 9" pie crust, baked and cooled
- 2/3 Cup granulated sugar
- 1 Tbs. (envelope) unflavored gelatin (I use Knox)
- 1 Cup fresh strawberries, crushed
- 3 large egg whites
- 1/4 tsp cream of tartar
- 1/3 Cup granulated sugar
- 1/2 Cup whipping cream
- 3/4 Cup whipping cream for garnish
- 8 whole fresh strawberries for garnish
- Mix sugar, gelatin and crushed strawberries in sauce pan. Cook to a rolling boil, stirring constantly.
- Place pan in ice water bath.
- Cool til mixture mounds slightly when dropped from a spoon. It will be the same consistency as raw egg whites.
- Beat egg whites with cream of tartar until soft peaks form. Slowly add sugar, beating until glossy and stiff.
- Whip the cream until stiff. It will hold a firm shape when the beaters are drawn through it.
- Fold egg white meringue in batches into the strawberry mixture. Repeat with whipped cream.
- Pile into pie crust, mounding in the center.
- Garnish with additional whipped cream and fresh strawberries.