The first person I ever met at Virginia Tech is getting married this October! It’s hard to believe that 6 years will have passed between my freshman year and now, but I’m so happy to still be close with so many of my first-ever college friends.
“4th High,” the upper 4th floor hallway of the HRC at Virginia Tech, was my beloved home for my first and most formative year at college. I couldn’t have lucked into a smarter, funnier, more loving, or more amazing group of hallmates if I had searched all 7 continents myself. And the first of those friends was Ross, who was the first to stop by my room on move-in day and introduce himself. His full beard and bouncy enthusiasm made me smile from the moment I met him, and I count myself lucky to be attending his wedding in Seattle later this year. 6 years on, 4th High is going strong, and even though we’ve moved from across the hall to across the country, I know I’ve found a group of people who will have my back for many years to come.
So Ross, and the rest of my 4th High family, this recipe is for you! I couldn’t count the number of times Ross asked me to make this pie during that first year, or the years thereafter. And if I weren’t flying across the entire country to visit in October, I would bring one with me. But offering up the recipe is the next best thing, I hope!
I found this recipe when I was really young while flipping through old Taste of Home books in my grandmother’s basement. I made it for the first time in high school, and now it is one of my signature summer desserts. It’s pretty simple to make, and perfect to prep the day before an event.
PSA: All the photos shown are from a double batch I made for 4th of July weekend. The recipe below is for one pie only – so don’t be concerned if you notice a discrepancy in the portion sizes!
To begin, preheat the oven to 300° F. In a large microwave safe bowl, melt the butter. Place bowl in microwave and heat in 10-15 second intervals. Once butter is mostly melted, remove and stir with a fork to melt any remaining solids. Then, add in the shredded coconut and stir well to coat. Coconut should be fully covered in butter.
Turn the coconut out into a 9” pie plate. Use your hands to work the crust mixture out and up the sides. Press down the coconut into the bottom and sides of the plate.
Bake for 30-35 minutes, until the edges of the crust begin to brown. Don’t worry if the bottom of the crust is still pale. Remove from oven and place on a wire rack to cool completely.
While the crust is baking, prepare the filling by thinly dicing the strawberries. For any huge ones, cut them in half before slicing. Add to a large bowl.
Then, add sugar. Stir well to mix, then allow to sit for 15 minutes to draw out liquids.
Meanwhile, combine the water and gelatin in a small skillet. Let sit for 3-5 minutes to allow the gelatin to partially bloom, then place pan on stove and heat while stirring until gelatin is melted, about 2 minutes.
Remove the gelatin mixture from the heat and stir in the lemon juice, then allow to cool for 5 minutes.
While the gelatin cools, revisit your strawberry mixture. Does there seem to be too much liquid? It’s sometimes hard to judge this, but I often find with this recipe (especially with really ripe, juicy strawberries) that there is excess liquid in the bowl. Feel free to drain some (not all!) of this liquid off – this will create a stiffer, more creamy filling. For example, I made a double batch for this post and drained about ½ cup of juice. So for a single pie, you may have up to ¼ cup extra liquid. This step is entirely optional but I’ve found it to be helpful!
Pour the gelatin over the strawberries and stir to combine.
In a large bowl and with a mixer of your choosing, beat the heavy whipping cream on high speed until stiff peaks form. This takes about 5 minutes in my stand mixer but may take longer with a hand mixer.
Fold the whipped cream into the strawberries gently, until just combined. Then spoon the mixture into the pie crust. Sometimes you will have more filling than the pie can handle – in this case, I use a slotted spoon to make sure I get all the strawberries into the pie, then add any extra cream filling that will fit into the crust.
Place pie into fridge to cool. Cool for at least 4 hours but preferably overnight. Serve cold and enjoy!
- ⅓ cup butter, melted
- 2.5 cups (1 7 oz bag) shredded sweetened coconut flakes
- 1 quart fresh strawberries
- ¾ cup sugar
- 1 envelope unflavored gelatin
- ½ cup cold water
- Juice of ½ lemon
- 1 cup heavy whipping cream
- Preheat oven to 300° F.
- Place butter in a large microwave-safe bowl and microwave in 10 second intervals until butter is melted.
- Add coconut flakes to the butter and stir with a fork until well combined.
- Place coconut mixture into a 9” pie plate and use your hands to mold the crust. Press coconut into the base of the pie plate and up the sides.
- Bake for 30-35 minutes, or until edges are golden brown
- Remove from oven and place on wire rack to cool completely.
- While crust is baking, thinly dice strawberries. Place in a large bowl and add sugar. Mix to combine, then allow to sit for 15 minutes to draw out liquids (see note).
- While strawberries are resting, combine the water and gelatin in a small nonstick skillet. Allow to sit for 3-5 minutes, then place skillet over medium heat and stir constantly until gelatin is dissolved, about 2 minutes.
- Remove from heat and stir in lemon juice. Allow this mixture to cool for 5 minutes before pouring over the strawberries.
- In the bowl of your stand mixer, whip the cream on high speed until stiff peaks form (5-10 minutes).
- Fold the whipped cream into the strawberry and gelatin mixture, being careful not to over mix.
- Pour filling into crust (there may be some leftover.)
- Place pie in fridge for at least 4 hours before serving.