#21 : Rhubarb-Cream Cheese Pie with Strawberries
Celebrating strawberry season
It's strawberry season! And by that I mean you can get local strawberries rather than the pale imitations found at the store that have no flavor. This recipe is from one of my "oldies but goodies" baking books, Rustic Fruit Desserts, as seen below.
As you know, I'm a huge fan of rhubarb, and the rhubarb-strawberry combination is a classic pairing. Here the rhubarb is baked in a par-baked pie shell, and then topped with a cream cheese filling and baked some more, then topped with sliced strawberries.
"But," you may ask, "what if I don't like rhubarb?" Luckily this recipe works with other fruit. Back in 2015, my sister and several of her kids (and even a 2-year-old grandchild) came to visit us and see "Uncle Rusty" starring as King Arthur in Camelot, and this pie was such a hit with everyone that they asked for another one. I made it with blueberries instead of the rhubarb and strawberries, and that pie was also a success, blueberries being a great match for cream cheese. (Strawberries on their own, apricots, peaches...I think they would all work here.)
The recipe is very easy and just requires taking the cream cheese out ahead of time to soften (I unwrapped it and put it in the mixing bowl while having my first cup of coffee). Once the rhubarb was baking I mixed up the cream cheese filling and then poured it over the fruit, then popped it back in the oven to bake again. (Make sure you bake this pie on a cookie sheet topped with foil, as the filling starts out fairly liquid and might drip during baking.)
I knew right away that Jeff wouldn't care for this one; he wasn't a fan back in 2015 as the pie is "too much like cheesecake" (never one of his favorites, except for my amazing Basque "burnt" cheesecake with hard cider caramel sauce...and who could argue with him there?). I had a meeting with the Friends of Floyd Memorial Library, a terrific group that helps raise funds for library programs here in Greenport. I'm the Secretary in charge of the monthly Minutes, and many of the Friends have signed onto Sixty Pies and are always asking what and when the next pie will be. I thought the pie would be well-received at the meeting, and I was right.
The meeting was a final organization of the upcoming annual Friends Garden Party to be held two days later, so it was fairly short, followed by the Friends board members happily tasting the pie. They all seemed to like it, as there was just one large slice left to bring home, and Jeff tried it and pronounced it "still not my favorite," so I finished it off for breakfast. It got a much higher rating from the Friends...and from me.
It's important to have strawberries (or some other fruit) for the top of the pie. You can see that some of the rhubarb pops through the filling, and also that the cream cheese tends to crack, making a pretty homely pie. The fruit topping serves a dual purpose of adding fresh sweetness to the pie and covering up the cracks.
But I do worry what the reaction will be if I show up for the next meeting sans pie.
The Verdict: Another Success...for cheesecake fans
I thought this pie was delicious, and announced it would make a great breakfast too (due to all the fruit). Jeff was less enthusiastic and said it was "OK," but the pie didn't change his mind about cheesecake. "But you can make that Basque cheesecake any time."