Sure, there’s nothing glamorous about carrying a watermelon, so to speak, but I’d be lying if I didn’t admit that I rather enjoy many parts of being pregnant. For example, you get to wear elastic-waist pants all the time. Your hair gets really thick and shiny; I mean, sure, it doesn’t last but if this is as close as I’m going to get in my lifetime to my Pantene Moment, you’d better believe I’m going to revel in it. It’s so very wrong, but I even secretly enjoy the soft bigotry of low expectations as literally nothing I admit — that I’ve been only swimming two times a week instead of three recently, that if I cook dinner twice a week, it’s a triumph, etc. — is met with less than “Go you! That’s amazing!” I even delight in watching people’s expressions change to borderline-panic on the street as they realize this rather normal-looking woman approaching them is, in fact, colossal when viewed from the side.
That is, until the end. The final weeks are a little different, aren’t they? They are both too long and too short, erratic sleep, puffy feet, and can I admit that I dread standing in line at the grocery store because I know I won’t escape without having to converse with a stranger about the state of my midsection? I actually found myself debating the pros/cons of a grocery store run yesterday because of this, but fortunately, the need for cream cheese and graham crackers for cheesecake ice cream pie triumphed, as it always and forever should.
You could say I’m on a frozen dessert kick this summer, whether I’m making the argument that popsicles are breakfast food, campfire-charred marshmallows should be slurped through a straw, and that anything with the nickname “crack” could be an ideal ice cream sandwich vehicle. I’m sure it has nothing — nothing — to do with the fact that 80 degrees outside is more like 105 in Third Trimester-ese, or that when your household includes a Kindergartener and a husband that’s been kind enough to eat like a stereotypical pregnant woman (pickles! ice cream! chocolate!), well, nobody is going to argue. Although I own an ice cream maker, my primary goal is to avoid using it because it requires advance planning (at least 24 hours of bowl-chilling) and nothing about ice cream cravings involve delayed gratification.
So, when I spied a stunning churn-free recipe for Mexican
Chocolate Coffee Ice Cream Pie on one of my favorite food blogs and realized that the core recipe was just a few steps away from cheesecake, and that I’ve never met anyone — dad, grad, kid, carrier of watermelons — who did anything less than a leap for joy when told that if they opened the freezer, they’d find a billowing homemade strawberry cheesecake ice cream pie inside, I knew what needed to be done. And I don’t regret a thing.
One year ago: Valerie’s French Chocolate Cake
Two years ago: Espresso Granita with Whipped Cream
Three years ago: Chocolate Swirl Buns
Four years ago: Dobos Torte
Five years ago: Crushed Peas with Smoky Sesame Dressing
Six years ago: Pickled Sugar Snap Peas and Springy Fluffy Marshmallows
Seven years ago: Breakfast Apricot Crisp and Dead Simple Slaw
Eight years ago: Fideos with Favas
And for the other side of the world:
Six Months Ago: Endives with Oranges and Almonds
1.5 Years Ago: Eggnog Florentines and Linzer Torte
2.5 Years Ago: Peppermint Hot Fudge Sauce (so perfect for summer, too, with or without mint extract)
3.5 Years Ago: Cashew Butter Balls
Strawberry Cheesecake Ice Cream Pie
Adapted a bit liberally from Lisa Fain’s Mexican Coffee Ice Cream Pie
An additional note about texture: The cream cheese base of this pie gets firm but not rock-hard in the freezer (a good thing), but the whipped cream topping can get very firm, almost popsicle-like. If this isn’t to your liking, you can add the whipped cream right before serving, or only let it firm up 10 minutes in the freezer, enough that it can stand up to the wet strawberry topping but not be fully frozen.
1 1/2 cups (155 grams) finely ground graham cracker crumbs (from about 10 crackers)
3 tablespoons (40 grams) granulated sugar
2 pinches sea salt
7 tablespoons (100 grams) unsalted butter, melted
1 8-ounce package cream cheese, at room room temperature
1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
1 teaspoon finely grated lemon zest
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Whipped cream topping
1 cup heavy or whipping cream
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 tablespoon granulated sugar
1 pound strawberries, hulled and halved
2 tablespoons sugar
Juice of half a lemon
1 tablespoon cornstarch
2 tablespoons water
Make crust: Heat oven to 350°F. Combine graham crumbs, sugar and salt in a medium bowl and stir until mixed. Add butter and stir until crumbs are evenly coated. Press crumbs into the bottom and up the sides of a standard 9-inch pie dish. I like to use the outer edge of a heavy measuring cup to press in neat, firm sides but nobody will be the wiser if you just use your fingertips. Bake crust until lightly browned, about 9 to 10 minutes. Set on cooling rack to cool completely. Once cool, you can even transfer it to the freezer to get it started on the chilling process.
Make cheesecake filling: Beat cream cheese until soft and fluffy, then slowly beat in condensed milk until smooth. Beat in zest and vanilla. [This step updated to ensure everyone avoids lumps.] Pour into cooled crust and freeze for 6 to 8 hours, until firm.
Make whipped cream topping: Whip cream with sugar and vanilla until soft peaks form. Spread the whipped cream over the frozen filling and return to the freezer until firm, usually less than an hour.
Make strawberry topping: Combine strawberries, sugar, lemon, cornstarch and water in a medium, heavy saucepan. Let macerate for 15 to 20 minutes, then cook over medium-low heat to a simmer, stirring. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes more, then remove from heat and chill sauce completely. You can hasten this along by stirring it in a bowl set over a bowl of ice water. Chill strawberry sauce in fridge until needed. (We won’t be freezing this part.)
To serve: Using a hot, wet knife, cut pie into wedges and drape each with strawberry sauce. Eat, repeat.