High Altitude Baking: Strawberry-margarita freezer pie (recipe)
Editor’s note: High altitude makes cookies spread in the pan, cakes fall and few baked goods turn out as they do at sea level. This twice-monthly column presents recipes and tips that make baking in the mountains successful.
A frozen strawberry margarita in a pie shell — what could be better on a summer evening or following a spicy meal? Refreshing, cool and creamy, with a mild strawberry flavor enhanced by the addition of triple sec, lime and tequila; it’s a crowd-pleaser.
Don’t be tempted to increase the amount of alcohol; it will inhibit the freezing of the filling. A premade commercial graham cracker crust can replace the homemade one; since the filling has star billing, the pie will still be good.
Strawberry-margarita freezer pie
(Make in a 9-inch pie pan or 9-inch springform pan with 3-inch high sides.)
1 1/3 cups cinnamon graham cracker crumbs (about 11 crackers 2 ½ by 4 ¼ inches)
2 ½ tablespoons superfine granulated sugar, preferably Baker’s
5 to 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 pound fresh or frozen hulled strawberries, partially thawed if frozen
1 tablespoon finely grated fresh lime zest
¼ cup fresh lime juice
14 ounces sweetened condensed milk
2 tablespoons tequila
2 tablespoons triple sec
1 cup plus 2 tablespoons heavy whipping cream
Fresh strawberries (optional)
Step 1: Place a metal or glass mixing bowl and the beaters for your electric mixer in the freezer to chill. (Cream whips more quickly if these are cold.)
Step 2: Make the crust: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees with a rack in the center position. Grease the pan. Whisk the graham cracker crumbs and sugar together until blended. Add 5 tablespoons of the melted butter, and toss/stir with a fork until uniformly moistened. Pinch some between your fingers. It should just hold together; if it doesn’t, add another ½ tablespoon melted butter, stir/toss, and test again. If necessary, add the last ½ tablespoon melted butter (take care, the crust will be hard and difficult to cut if too much butter is used). Press evenly over the bottom and sides of the prepared pan so crust is about 3/16 of an inch thick (extend about 2 inches up sides of the springform pan). You may have some left over if you’re using a pie pan. Bake until firm and aromatic, about 10 minutes. Cool completely.
Step 3: Make the filling: Add the berries, lime zest and juice, sweetened condensed milk, tequila and triple sec to the bowl of a food processor, and process until smooth. Scrape into a mixing bowl. Remove the bowl and beaters from the freezer, add whipping cream to the bowl, and beat until it holds stiff peaks. Fold 1/3 of the whipped cream into the strawberry mixture, and then fold in half of the remaining whipped cream and, finally, the rest of it. Pour into the cooled crust (you may not use it all if you have a shallow pie pan), smooth the top, and freeze uncovered until firm (about 5 hours). If not serving immediately, cover with plastic wrap or foil and leave in freezer up to two days.
Step 4: If using a springform pan, wet a towel with hot water and rub the pan bottom and sides to warm them a little for ease in removal, and then take off the pan side. If topping the dessert, halve fresh strawberries and place them decoratively around the top. To serve, cut with a thin, sharp knife dipped in hot water and dried between cuts. Let rest until the slices soften very slightly before bringing them to the table.
This is a variation of a recipe from Gourmet Magazine. Vera Dawson, author of the high-altitude cookbook “Cookies in the Clouds” (available at The Next Page Books & Nosh in Frisco), is a chef instructor with CMC’s Culinary Institute. Her recipes have been tested in her Summit County kitchen and, whenever necessary, altered until they work at our altitude. Contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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