If this recipe looks familiar, it’s because it has been around for ages. Different versions of it can usually be found in small town church cookbooks in the southern US. My strawberry iteration is inspired by a recipe from my friend Bobbie who passed away last year. She was an elderly lady famous for her desserts – especially Cherry Yum Yum. This dessert has the best parts of her recipe and swaps out the cherries for strawberries.
Bobbie’s recipe comes from a time when food trends were geared towards convenience and shelf stability. I’ve sympathetically adapted this recipe to swap out the margarine for real butter and replaced the packets of “Dream Whip” with freshly whipped cream. I did concede to keep the cans of ready-made pie filling because they keep this recipe simple, and if you purchase a premium brand of pie filling, then you’ll have an excellent end result. (I like Comstock.)
The crust reminds me of Pecan Sandies cookies. It uses few ingredients and not even a sprinkle of sugar. It’s just flour, butter, salt and chopped pecans. This unsweet crust contrasts and balances the other sweet components of the dessert.
The crust mixture will be quite crumbly, and should pack when you squeeze it in your hand. Pour it into the bottom of a 13×9 pan and press evenly. As the crust bakes, the pecans become toasty and delectable.
The cream filling is much like a light no-bake cheesecake, with a large ratio of whipped cream to the single package of cream cheese.
Two cans of pie filling are dolloped on top of the cloud-like cream layer. Bobbie always used cherry pie filling, and I use it too when I want to remember her and feel her presence. This time I used strawberry pie filling, because it’s what I had on hand!
You could use practically ANY kind of pie filling you’d like. I’ve made this in autumn months adding cinnamon to the pecan crust, and canned homemade apple pie filling instead of commercially prepared pie filling. It’s so versatile.
You could end assembly after the addition of the pie filling and call the dessert done, but I like to add another layer of whipped cream and a few pecans to make it pretty.
I will admit, scooping out the first piece is always an untidy job, so most of the time when I’m serving this, I just stick a spoon in the casserole dish. It can be cut into pieces, though. Chill the dessert well for the neatest slices.
This dessert can be served year-round, and even at Christmastime (the red berry filling looks so festive!). But I have to say, it’s my personal favorite to serve in hot months when you’re feeling wilted and need refreshed.
Yields one 13×9-inch pan
1 cup (226g) unsalted butter, softened
2 cups (300g) all-purpose flour
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup (4 oz.) chopped pecans
8 oz. (1 package) cream cheese, softened
3 cups (400g) powdered sugar
1 1/2 cups (360 ml) heavy cream, whipped
2 cans (21 oz. each) strawberry pie filling (tested with Comstock)
3/4 cup (180 ml) heavy cream, whipped
1/4 cup (1 oz.) chopped pecans
Fresh mint leaves
Preheat oven to 350°F.
In the bowl of an electric mixer, cream together the butter, flour, and salt. The mixture will be crumbly. Mix in the pecans. Press the mixture into the bottom of a 13×9-inch pan. Bake for 22-25 minutes, or until lightly golden. Allow the crust to cool completely.
In a separate bowl, combine the cream cheese and powdered sugar and beat well. Mixture will be thick. Fold in 1/3 of the whipped cream to loosen the cream cheese mixture, then fold in the remaining whipped cream. Spread this mixture on top of the cooled crust. Spoon the contents of two cans of ready-made pie filling on top of the cream.
Cover the strawberry pie filling with the optional whipped cream, pecans and mint leaves, if using. Cover and chill until firm, about 2 hours. Slice into pieces or spoon onto a plate.
Use any ready-made pie filling you prefer: apple, cherry, and blueberry are all very good in this recipe.
This recipe was adapted from Ms. Bobbie Goins’ Cherry Yum Yum recipe, famous in her East TN hometown.