Mini Strawberry Peach Pies

People are passionate about pie crust.

Well, let’s be clear - BAKERS in particular are passionate about pie crusts.  Lard, butter, Crisco, oil, how to roll it out, what constitutes “flaky”, how flaky is too flaky . . . most bakers I know have a pie crust they swear by and rarely deviate from (including one friend of mine who, though she does nearly everything else from scratch, insists that Jiffy pie crust is the only one she will ever use.).

This is my pie crust.  Or more precisely, my grandma’s pie crust.  I find it ideal–flaky but substantial, incredibly forgiving to roll out (and re-roll out if necessary), and totally adaptable.  I’ve made everything from cherry pie to chicken pot pie with it to great success, and it’s always a huge treat when Grandma herself brings over a chocolate pudding pie with meringue topping or, my personal favorite, her peach cobbler.

For the last couple of days I’ve been visiting my family in Illinois.  My mom has what I refer to as a “dream kitchen”, so every time I come to visit, I make time to cook something.  So much room to spread out compared to an NYC apartment!  So many glorious tools!  Not to mention the view of the woods out the back wall of windows and a couple of sweet, silly cats to get underfoot.

Well, we didn’t have time for super elaborate meals on this go around; however I was determined, once I saw the gorgeous berries my mom picked up at the supermarket, to make dessert happen.  Mom and I debated the relative merits of strawberry shortcake with biscuits or strawberry tarts. When she confessed that her favorite part was the crust, I ended up with this hybrid pie/shortcake recipe.  Individual pie crust “cups” filled with a mixture of those beautiful berries and a minor May miracle–actual, honest-to-God ripe peaches.  Add a little balsamic vinegar and black pepper for zing and you have a pretty darn sophisticated dessert with very little effort.

Mini Strawberry Peach Pies

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Crust:
1 1/4 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 TB ice water
1/3 plus 1 tablespoon oil

Filling:
16 ounces of sliced strawberries
2 (or more) sliced peaches
1/8 cup sugar (or to taste)
2 TB balsamic vinegar
Generous dash of black pepper


For crust:

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Preheat oven to 450. Mix flour and salt in a small bowl.  Add oil and ice water, mixing with a fork just until crust comes together (do not overmix).  Roll out on floured surface.  Flip a muffin baking tin upside down and spray with cooking oil.  Cut dough into 6 equal portions and mold into “cups” (this is a decidedly unscientific process.  I wasn’t going for pinterest perfection in my cup execution.)  Sprinkle with a bit of sugar if you like.  Bake at 450 for 10-12 minutes, or until golden.  Let cool without unmolding for 20 minutes.  Very carefully remove pie cups from the tin and plate just before eating.
 

For filling:

While your mini crusts are baking and cooling, combine your sliced strawberries and peaches and add sugar, balsamic vinegar, and pepper.  Let marinate for at least 30 minutes in the fridge.

Final prep:

Plate your individual pie crusts and spoon the berry peach balsamic mixture into the crust.  Add ice cream, whipped cream, whatever your heart desires.  This would be RIDICULOUS with salted caramel ice cream . . . just sayin’. 

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Casey Clark