A California girl’s twist on a sacred sweet
Posted on May 9, 2018
Back when I was researching and testing recipes for 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 books are compilations of the personal best recipes of the women members of the groups and are usually sold as a part of a fundraiser.
Most recipes I then developed were close adaptations of the originals, because I believed they were 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 only pork neck bone and using any other smoked meat is considered nonsense. In other areas, they use smoked ham hock with a little sugar and chili flakes. To this, the first group just shakes their heads and rolls their eyes.
Ice Box Pie is another dish that always attracts a lot of compliments and criticisms. Although there are many variations, each one claims to be the only way to make this sweet treat. I came up with the idea of baking the pies in half-pint Mason jars so that they could be sealed for freshness until I needed to use them. They could also be served in the jar, which is reminiscent of the sweet tea served in Mason jars that are a Southern staple.
This is a super simple method that delivers 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. Terryl Gavre, owner of Cafe 222 and co-owner of Bankers Hill Bar + Restaurant; breadandbutterismyjam.com, @terrylgavre
Acme Southern Kitchen Ice Box Pies
1 cup graham cracker crumbs
2 Tbsp sugar
4 Tbsp melted butter
Pinch of salt
1. Combine all ingredients in a medium bowl
2. Place about 2 Tbsp of crumb mix in the bottom of each ½-pint Mason jar and pack down well
3. Place the jars on a cookie sheet in a 350º oven and bake for 10 minutes
4. Remove jars from the oven and cool completely
4 egg yolks
1 can sweetened condensed milk
½ cup + 1 Tbsp freshly squeezed lemon juice
2 tsp lemon zest
1. Beat yolks until light in color
2. Add remaining ingredients and mix just to combine
3. Once crusts are cool, fill the jars ¾ full with custard mixture
4. Place filled jars in a water bath and bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes
5. Allow to cool completely.
6. Cover with lids until ready to serve
7. Remove lids and top with a dollop of whipped cream
8. Garnish with fresh mint, lemon slice, or strawberry