A California Girl’s Twist on a Sacred Sweet
This recipe is currently being featured in the May issue of Ranch and Coast Magazine if you want to find a pretty and glossy version of it.
When I was researching and testing recipes for my beloved Acme Southern Kitchen I sent away for as many Junior League and Church cookbooks as I could find from all parts of the South. These are compilation-style cookbooks, where women in a particular group submit their personal “best” recipes to be published and then the book is usually sold as part of a fundraiser.
Many of the recipes I used were adaptations of these, as I believed them to be the most authentic examples of true, Southern, home-style cooking.
I learned a few interesting things: first, there is a lot of pride and competition among Southern cooks. For instance, in some parts of the region, collards are cooked with strictly pork neck bone and any other smoked meat is nonsense; and then there are other areas where they use smoked ham hock with a little sugar and chili flakes. To this, the other cooks shake their head and roll their eyes. I learned that everybody’s Mama made the ”best biscuits hands-down,” and I also learned that unless you are truly from the South, you will always be considered a phony, a fake, an imposter and quite frankly, a damn fool for trying to pull off Southern cookery. Those Southern women are pretty, and they certainly know their etiquette, but don’t you try and tread on their turf… they will put your skinny ass in its pretty place.
And rightfully so.
Ice Box Pie is another dish that always attracts a lot of compliments, and criticisms. I learned there are many variations, and each one claiming to be the “only” way to make an Ice Box Pie.
I came up with the idea of baking them in half-pint Mason jars for the restaurant so that they could be sealed for freshness until we needed to use them. They could also be served in the jar, which is reminiscent of the sweet tea served in Mason jars that the South is known for.
This is a super simple method that offers all the lemony goodness of more complicated versions. The most difficult part of this recipe is not to spill the water bath on your way to the oven, which I almost always manage to do.
Acme Southern Kitchen Ice Box Pies
1 Cup Graham Cracker Crumbs
2 TBS Sugar
4 TBS Melted Butter
Combine all ingredients in medium bowl.
Place approx. 2 TBS of crumb mix in the bottom of each jar. Pack well.
Bake jars on a cookie sheet in 350* oven for 10 minutes. Allow to cool completely.
4 Egg Yolks
1 Can Sweetened Condensed Milk
½ Cup Freshly Squeezed Lemon Juice plus 1 TBS more
2 Tsp Lemon Zest
Beat yolks until light in color.
Add remaining ingredients and mix just to combine.
Once crusts are cool, fill the jars up ¾ the way full of mixture.
Bake in a water bath at 350* for 10-12 minutes. Allow to cool completely.
Cover with lids until ready to serve.
Remove lids and top with a dollop of whipped cream.
Garnish with fresh mint, lemon slice or strawberry.