Strawberry Cream Cheese Pie

Makes 1 (9-inch) pie. Recipe is from Corinne Cook.

1 baked and cooled 9-inch pie shell

Cream cheese layer:

1 (8-ounce) cream cheese, room temperature

3 tablespoons sugar

Zest of small lemon

Juice of 1 lemon (about 3 tablespoons)

Strawberry glaze:

1 cup boiling water

¾ cup sugar

3½ tablespoons cornstarch

Pinch of salt

3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

½ teaspoon almond extract

Red food coloring to desired shade

3½ to 4 cups hulled and sliced fresh strawberries (reserve 3 or 4 whole berries to garnish top)

½ pint heavy cream, whipped for topping

Fresh mint for garnish, if desired

1. Prepare and bake pie shell. Set aside to cool completely.

2. Cream cheese layer: In medium bowl, combine cream cheese and sugar. Wash lemon and remove zest; adding it to cream cheese mixture. Cut lemon in half and squeeze juice; add juice to cream cheese mixture. Stir or whisk until mixture is smooth and well blended.

3. Spread cream cheese mixture over bottom of cooled pie crust. Refrigerate while preparing glaze.

4. Strawberry Glaze: Measure 1 cup water and bring to boil in small saucepan. In separate small pot, stir sugar, cornstarch, pinch of salt together. Add about 2 tablespoons of the boiling water to the cornstarch mixture while stirring to make a thick paste. Stir and continue adding the remainder of the boiling water to make a glaze. Mixture will thicken and appear clear when it comes to a boil. Remove from heat.

5. Add lemon juice and almond extract; stir.

6. Add red food coloring to desired shade of red. Stir in sliced strawberries. Spread strawberry glaze over the cream cheese layer in pie shell. Refrigerate 2 hours or overnight.

7. Before serving, whip cream and add it to the top edge of the pie or add a dollop in the center of each serving. Top with mint leaf or sprig, if desired.