Category Archives: Icebox Pies

Strawberry Shortcake Pie

Strawberries are cheap and plentiful right now, so I am taking advantage of the Florida berries while I can. I was very pleased with my Baked Strawberry Pie, but wanted to put my own twist on Martha Stewart’s Strawberry Icebox Pie. I also wanted cream cheese in the pie, because it is so darn tasty. I was going to use shortbread cookies for the crust, hence the shortcake inspiration, but then I found Golden Oreo cookies on sale at Publix. Yum.

This pie is simple to prepare, and you can easily substitute different berries for the filling or other cookies for the crust. The sweet cream cheese complements the ripe berries so nicely, but feel free to omit it if you are crazy and don’t like cream cheese.

Strawberry Shortcake Pie

Cookie Crust
24 Golden Oreo Cookies
3 tbs butter, melted
1 tsp vanilla

Place cookies in a single layer in a Ziploc bag. Crush cookies with a rolling pin. (You could also pulse the cookies in a food processor, but smashing them is more fun.) Pour cookie crumbs in a bowl. Stir in melted butter and vanilla until combined. Press into 9-inch pie plate Bake at 350°for 10-12 minutes. Cool on wire rack.

Pie Filling
4 cups strawberries, hulled and sliced
½ cup sugar
2 tbs cornstarch
½ cup water
8 oz. cream cheese, softened
½ cup confectioner’s sugar

Mash 2 cups strawberries in a small bowl. In a small saucepan, mix sugar and cornstarch. Add ½ cup water and mashed strawberries. Cook over medium heat until thick and boiling. Boil about 1 minute, stirring constantly. Remove from heat and let cool.

In a medium bowl, beat cream cheese, vanilla, and confectioner’s sugar until fluffy. Spread evenly into cooled pie crust. Top with sliced strawberries and pour cooled strawberry mixture on top. Refrigerate for 3 hours, or until set.

The ingredient lineup

I must admit my addiction to Golden Oreos

For a good time, put cookies in a Ziploc bag and smash them with a rolling pin

You should really smash them better than I did

Press cookie crumbs into a pie plate

Now smash half of the sliced berries

Show the sliced berries what will happen to them if they don't behave

Mix the sugar and cornstarch together, then add the water and berries

Let the berries boil about 1 minute, until mixture is thick and glossy

While berry mixture cools, whip up the cream cheese, vanilla, and powdered sugar

That cream cheese is totally whipped

Spread the cream cheese mixture into the cooled cookie crust

Mmm.... Cream cheese

Pile on the sliced berries. Don't worry, it will all fit

Carefully pour the cooled berry mixture over the sliced berries and stick it in the fridge to chill

The perfect slice

Peanut Butter Pie

Peanut Butter is a popular pie for potlucks. It is a pretty simple icebox pie that even non-bakers can whip up in no time. I have never been a fan of peanut butter pies (or potlucks, for that matter) because they are usually cloyingly sweet or too salty. I blame the cloyingly sweet part on the usage of Cool Whip. I just don’t get Cool Whip. (I don’t get Miracle Whip, either, but that’s another story.)

Homemade whipped cream is simple: heavy cream, sugar, a little vanilla. When you make your own, you can control the sweetness. You just have to be careful to stop mixing when you reach soft peaks, because it will go from whipped cream to butter in the blink of an eye. Although, making butter is fun, too. I used to do this activity with the kids when I was an after-school group leader. (Kids love craft projects they can eat.)

Back to the pie. The whipped cream I make for this pie contains no sugar because there is already sugar in the pie. I do not add salt because peanut butter is already salty enough. Of course, using some kind of hippie health food, no-salt, no-sugar peanut butter will give you different results. That’s fine if that is how you roll, but be aware that you may need to add salt and your favorite natural sweetener to make a palatable pie.

I am not a choosy mom, but I still choose Jif because my choosy mom chose Jif. I like the taste and the texture better than other brands. You can use the peanut butter you prefer, just make sure it’s smooth. Part of the appeal of this pie is the creamy texture. Peanut bits that will invariably get stuck in your teeth will ruin the effect, plus your friends with diverticulitis (Remember Doug and Wendy Whiner?) won’t be able to eat it.

While you can pick up a ready-made crumb crust at the grocery, I implore you to make your own crust. It is so easy and so much better.

Peanut Butter Pie

Crust
1½ cups chocolate graham cracker crumbs (about one sleeve)
5 tbs butter, melted
1 tbs sugar

Mix and press into pie plate. Bake at 350° for 8-10 minutes. Cool on wire rack.

Filling
8 oz cream cheese, softened
¾ cup confectioners’ (powdered) sugar
1½ cups smooth peanut butter
1 tbs vanilla
1½ cups heavy cream

Using an electric mixer, beat cream cheese and powdered sugar on medium speed until fluffy. Beat in peanut butter and vanilla until combined. Set aside. Beat heavy cream until soft peaks form. Stir in 1/3 of whipped cream into peanut butter mixture, then gently fold in remaining whipped cream. Spoon into cooled pie crust and refrigerate at least four hours before serving. Garnish with a sprinkling of cookie crumbs or a drizzle of chocolate syrup.

I remembered to take more photos this time, except during the whipped cream part. I am easily distracted by whipped cream.

The obligatory ingredient lineup

Chocolate graham cracker crumbs. Chocolate cookie crumbs work, too

Mmm.... Butter! Do not skimp on the butter; four tablespoons really isn't enough

Use the flat bottom of a measuring cup to evenly press the crumbs into the pie plate

Completely cool the crumb crust on a wire rack before filling

Beat the powdered sugar and cream cheese until fluffy

Ooooh! That's fluffy!

Now it's time to add the peanut, peanut butter (hold the jelly)

Confession: I rarely measure vanilla extract

Beat in the peanut butter and vanilla until it looks like this

Use a spatula to gently fold in the whipped cream

Peanut-buttery goodness ready to become a pie

Gently fill the crumb crust and make it look pretty

I sprinkled cookie crumbs on top just to pretty it up a bit

After chilling for four hours, the pie sliced up perfectly

Key Lime, Florida’s State Pie

So, what is your State Pie? Does your state have an official pie? Do you know how a Bill becomes a State Pie? If you care, click here for the legislative details.

Key Lime Pie became Florida’s Official State Pie in 2006. I have no idea how we managed without a State Pie for so many years. And thank goodness we get to worship the Key Lime and not the Mincemeat pie. Ack! (More fun Florida facts can be found here, kids!)

After my nearly fortnight-long love affair with the berries and cheese pie, I had to give it up. The Perfect Blueberry Cheese Pie was the best; the blueberry-raspberry cheese pie I made for the first tailgate of the season was divine and the garnet hue was a huge hit with the Seminole fans; but the raspberry cheese pie was just OK.

Raspberry Cheese Pie has zing but doesn't sing like the Blueberry

The sparkle has dulled. It’s time to move on to other pies. At least until next summer’s blueberry crop.

It was pie time I tackled the Key Lime pie. But what about those pesky little Key Limes? They aren’t in season right now, so it gave me the perfect excuse to use a bottle of Nellie & Joe’s Famous Key West Lime Juice and not spend an hour zesting and squeezing all of those tiny Key Limes. Seriously. I know I will eventually have to do it to make My Piary complete, but I’m not looking forward to it. I know how hard it is to zest and juice lemons and regular-size limes. But those Key Limes are tiny buggers and I’m a klutz. I can feel the knuckle-scraping now. Eww. Anyway, I will not feel guilty for using juice from concentrate. I will not. There, I’ve made my peace. Let’s get on with the pie.

This pie is so darn easy. The recipe I used is the same as the one on the bottle with the addition of my homemade graham cracker crust and one teaspoon of vanilla, because I think vanilla makes everything better. I like vanilla. I also topped my pie with meringue since I prefer meringue to whipped cream. I don’t like whipped cream on my pie. I know. I’m an enigma. I do not like egg white omelets, either. Bleh. Of course you can do whatever you want to do with the three leftover egg whites. I won’t ask, nor will I tell. I won’t judge.

The best piece of Key Lime Pie I have ever eaten was from the Blond Giraffe in Key West. It was my first time in Key West. My only visit to the Keys. I was living in Miami Beach at the time and I decided that I would get up early and take a day trip. Just go to Key West for the day. It was during the week and it was the first day of August, so I pretty much had the long road to myself. It was HOT, but amazing. Sunroof open on my Beetle Bug, riding along the very bottom of Florida, surrounded by water. It is the only way to roll to Key West. The view is truly breathtaking.

I stopped at every public library in the Keys along the way, too. Funny. That’s what crazy librarians do. So, did I mention it was HOT? The heat! MYGAWD the HEAT! I was closer to Cuba than I was to my house at that point. It was hot. No clouds, no ozone, just broiling sun and lots of water to throw it right back up in yo’ face. Good times. I tell you this because these environmental factors may have played into the intensity of my love for the Blond Giraffe Key Lime Pie. I don’t know. They are out of business now, so take that however you want.

Maybe I just don’t love Key Lime Pie as much as everyone else does. Will I lose my Native Floridian status? Gosh, I hope not. I plan on playing that card when I’m 80 and yelling at those drunken, Spring-Breakin’ whippersnappers to get off of my beach. Don’t get me wrong, my pie was good. In fact, it was better the second night. I guess I’m just having a hard time recovering from the mouthgasm of the Perfect Blueberry Cheese Pie. *sigh*

Maybe it’s time to bust out the pecans. I like nuts. Mmm…. Pecan Pie.

Back to the Key Lime. Here is the Nellie & Joe’s Key Lime Pie recipe with my addition of vanilla. Pretty darn easy. (Be sure to check out their cocktail recipes. Yum!)

Nellie & Joe’s Key Lime Pie

9″ graham cracker pie crust
14 oz. can of sweetened condensed milk
3 egg yolks (whites not used)
½ cup Nellie & Joe’s Key West Lime Juice
1 tsp. vanilla

Combine milk, egg yolks and lime juice. Blend until smooth. Pour filling into pie crust and bake at 350º for 15 minutes. Allow to stand 10 minutes before refrigerating.

Don't judge my meringue; I only used three whites

Berries and Cream Pie

This is a tasty pie. “An outstanding pie,” says my tester. “But this is no Blueberry Cheese Pie.” Um, no. Not so much.

This is what I'm talkin' 'bout!

For those in the back row, the cheese in my Perfect Blueberry Cream Pie is cream cheese. CREAM cheese. Not gouda, dude-uh. There’s no havarti at this pie party. No fella, that’s not mozzarella. It’s cream cheese. Cream cheese. Cream. Cream. Creammm….

That pie was damn good. I mean, I could stop baking pies right now and die a happy pie baker. I won’t. But I could. That is how good that pie is. If you don’t go make that pie right now (well, after reading my blog, duh!), you will not know the rainbow-sparkle, earth-shifting feeling of having that pie in your mouth. Oh, it is so, so good. Yes, yes it is.

I cannot stop baking pies. People love my pie. My Piary must continue. Pity the pie that follows the majestic pie-perfection of my Blueberry Cheese Pie. Seriously. I mean, Berries and Cream Pie is delicious. But it is no Perfect Blueberry Cheese Pie.

All right. I’m done with that. For now. It’s time to move on to the next pie.

I was inspired by Martha once again. I just simplified (a bit) her Summer Fruit Cream Pie recipe. The cream is a custard, so there is a lot of whisking. Count it as your workout for the day. I won’t tell. I only had blueberries and raspberries, so that’s what I used. I prefer nutmeg, as you know, but if you prefer cinnamon, go for it. I forgot to put the plastic wrap over it before chilling, but it came out fine. It didn’t have a creepy pudding skin, or anything nasty like that. It was a darn good pie. It’s just not the Perfect Blueberry Cheese Pie.

First, go ahead and make the graham or other cookie crumb crust. Use this basic recipe, or this one, from the Perfect Blueberry Cheese Pie.

 

Crumb Crust

1½-2 cups graham cracker crumbs (about 12-16 crackers)
2 tbs sugar (optional)
pinch salt
½ cup (yes, 1 stick) unsalted butter, melted

Mix all ingredients and pat into 9-inch pie plate. Bake for 8 minutes at 325°. Let cool on a wire rack before filling.

And now do all this other stuff. I didn’t have whole milk on hand, so I did a mix of 2 percent and half & half. It all worked out fine.

Berries and Cream Pie

1½ cups berries; blueberries, raspberries, and/or blackberries.
1 cup sugar
3 tbs + 2 tsp cornstarch
¼ tsp salt
2¾ cup of whole milk
4 egg yolks, slightly beaten in a medium bowl (save the whites for an omelet (meh) or meringue (yay!)
¼ tsp fresh, grated nutmeg
½ tsp fresh lemon juice, just to squirt on the berries
4 tbs butter, cut into quarters and softened
1 tsp vanilla

Whisk together the sugar, cornstarch, and salt in a medium saucepan. Over medium-high heat, whisk in milk. Stirring constantly (don’t stop!), bring to boil (look for big bubbles, about five minutes) and cook for two minutes at boiling point. Keep stirring!!

Remove from heat. Slowly pour into eggs, whisking until combined. Return to saucepan and return to boil, cooking over medium-high heat, stirring constantly for about 1-2 minutes. Look for those big bubbles, again.

Remove from heat, add nutmeg and vanilla. Stir in 1 tbs of butter at a time, whisking till butter melts. Let custard cool in saucepan on wire rack, about 10 minutes. (Again, Martha said to whisk occasionally, but I forgot and it all worked out fine.)

Mix berries with a sprinkling of granulated sugar, a squirt of lemon juice, and a little grated nutmeg. Stir until combined. Gently fold berries into custard and pour into crust. (This is where Martha says to put plastic wrap on top, but I didn’t. Whatever. Your choice.)

Chill for 4 hours or overnight.

Yeah, right. It was perfectly fine at 4 hours, but I guess if you are making it for a potluck or tailgate, you could make it the night before and bring your pie and your hooch and you’ll be the hit of the par-tay. I just like to eat my pie right away. The waiting is the hardest part.

Look at pretty pictures now, mkay?

 

Whisk dry ingredients together

 

Whisk in the milk

 

See? Whisking is a workout!

 

Slowly pour into the whisked egg yolks

 

It's beginning to look a lot like custard

 

Obligatory berry shot

 

That's a fine looking graham cracker crust

 

Gently fold in the berries

 

Pour into the crust

 

Just chill, man

 

Not the prettiest slice of pie, but it was darn tasty

The Perfect Blueberry Cheese Pie

I must confess that I love cream cheese. I make stuffed French toast with it, I mix it with roasted garlic for a fantastic dip, and I have a dog who will just about do back-flips for a lick of it. Cream cheese is awesome.

I adapted this recipe from the Williams-Sonoma Pies & Tarts cookbook. It is so, so good. I got a great response from this pie, even before it was out of the oven. Oh, the smell was heavenly. You must make this while blueberries are still in season.

I used graham crackers for the crust since I had some on hand, but you can use other cookies or cracker crumbs if you prefer. I have to say that the honey graham cracker crust was delicious. Maybe that had something to do with the whole stick of butter in it. Yeah, maybe.

The custard part is super easy and quickly comes together in one bowl. You can use a hand- or stand-mixer. (My awesome KitchenAid stand mixer whipped it up in two minutes.)

I have realized that I like to add fresh nutmeg and lemon juice to all of my fruit pies. You don’t have to, but I like it. A lot.

Perfect Blueberry Cheese Pie

Crumb Crust

1½-2 cups graham cracker crumbs (about 12-16 crackers)
2 tbs sugar (optional)
pinch salt
½ cup (yes, 1 stick) unsalted butter, melted

Mix all ingredients and pat into 9-inch pie plate. Bake for 8 minutes at 325°. Let cool on a wire rack before filling.

Cheese Custard

8 oz. cream cheese, softened
1/3 cup powdered sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
¼ tsp fresh, grated nutmeg
2 eggs

Combine cheese, sugar, vanilla, and nutmeg; beat until smooth. Add eggs, beat well. Pour into the cooled, baked pie shell and bake until set, about 25 minutes  at 325°. Let cool.

Blueberry Topping

2 cups (1 pint) blueberries
½ cup water
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1½ tbs cornstarch mixed with 2 tbs water
1 tbs fresh lemon juice
¼ tsp fresh, grated nutmeg

Combine berries, water, and sugar in saucepan; bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer covered for 5 minutes. Remove from heat, add cornstarch, return to heat and bring to boil. Cook 1 minute, stirring constantly. Let cool and spoon over cooled custard. Chill at least 1 hour before serving.

Assemble your ingredients before you start mixing so you won't forget anything

And always make your fruit pose for a pretty photo before baking

Just don't forget to adjust the manual focus before shooting the crust. D'oh!

Cream cheese custard filling before baking...

and after. Doesn't it look good? But wait, it gets better!

Look at that perfect slice! It tastes amazing. Please don't lick your screen!

My Little Grasshopper Pie

One of my dearest and bestest friends detests mint. I can’t stand mint tea, so I can understand Miss Holly’s disdain. I do like mojitos, though. I guess I am an enigma. But that’s a therapy session for another time.

Anyway, my (Secret) Care Sister, Holly, really hates mint. I believe it results from a morning sickness versus toothpaste incident. Correct me if I’m wrong, my dear Holly. Hey, it’s her prerogative to not like mint and that’s okay.

When I started researching recipes for this project/blog, I remembered a popular pie from the ’70s called Grasshopper. Apparently there is a drink by the same name. (A cloying cordial is not my thing, so I’ve ignored its existence all these years.) The older woman at the ABC Liquor looked up the recipe and said it contains creme de menthe, creme de cacao and milk or cream. “So you’ll have plenty to make some after your pie,” she nodded at my two cheapo bottles of cordials. Rock on. Maybe I need to host an early ’70s cocktail party. Who’s bringing the aspic?  Bleh.

Back to pie. Grasshopper pie. I found the original recipe on that crazy Pioneer lady’s site. Thanks, Ree! I changed it a bit to make me happy. First I will give you the This is NOT for Holly Pie, then I will be all sweet and give an alternative recipe just for Holly.

This is NOT for Holly Grasshopper Pie

20 whole Oreo cookies
3 tbs butter, melted
1 jar marshmallow fluff (fluff does not contain gelatin)
2/3 cup half-and-half
2 tbs creme de menthe
2 tbs creme de cacao
1 cup heavy cream
Extra cookie crumbs or chocolate curls for garnish.

This is the fun part. Put the cookies in a large Ziploc freezer bag and bang the heck out of it with a wooden rolling pin. Just be careful not to break the bag. Add the melted butter and smoosh and smash a bit more. Good times. Dump the contents into a pie pan and evenly press along the bottom and up the sides.  Set in the fridge while you work on the filling.

Add marshmallow fluff and half-and-half to a medium saucepan over low heat. Stir constantly until melted and combined, then set the pan in a bowl of ice to cool. Now is the time to make some fancy chocolate curls or cookie crumbles. Add the creme de menthe and the creme de cacao to the cooled fluff-n-stuff. I don’t add food coloring because it’s just gross and unnecessary.

Beat the whipping cream in a cold mixing bowl until stiff, pour in the cooled marshmallow mixture and gently fold them together.

Pour into chocolate crust (don’t overflow the pan; if you have extra, just drink it!), and decorate with crumbs or curls. Set in the freezer for at least two hours or until very firm. (Tee hee!) Remove from freezer about 10 minutes before serving.

For Holly’s version, let’s call it Holly’s Cicada Pie, I’m going to omit the creme the menthe (duh!), substitute 2 tbs Navan vanilla liqueur to go along with the creme to cacao (or you can use real vanilla extract), and throw in the option of using the golden Oreo cookies, or other vanilla cream-filled cookies, as the crust. How does that sound?

P.S. I know that Sweet & Sara make gelatin-free marshmallows, but they are crazy expensive, so unless you are willing to plunk down some serious dough for a fluffy sugar confection, go with the fluff.

This is NOT for Holly Grasshopper Pie with Bonus Bokeh