Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Cooling Off with the Ice Box

For most people living in the South, there is a common understanding that our springs are all too quick and is probably why we savor them so much. Once the heat of summer falls upon us there's no looking back. When you're in the South during these hot spells you don't complain (much) but rather you put your thinking apron on and start practicing outdoor cooking and "no-bake" desserts. The first time I had an "Ice Box Pie" was probably during the 70's when a little, well-known box of powdered instant whipped topping debuted in our home. My mom was quick to figure out how to use that "just-add-water" mix to create all kinds of dessert concoctions that required only to be chilled in the freezer. Since moving to Austin I can't tell you how many ice box pies I have made to beat the heat. Though I like to believe I'm a purist when it comes to ingredients, I just let that theory "chill" while making these pies because the two main ingredients are frozen whipped topping and cream cheese. If you use these as the foundation to your pies, you can spend all your energy creating flavors instead of spending it fanning yourself from the heat coming from your oven... I'm jus' sayin'!

Here are a few of my favorites: As long as you use the frozen whipped topping and the cream cheese you can add any juice, pudding or fresh fruit you like.

Lemonade Pie
1 brick of cream cheese
1 tub of frozen whipped topping
1/2 cup of frozen lemonade concentrate (can use pink if you prefer)
1 cup of lemon curd (can be homemade or store bought)
1 graham cracker crust (homemade or store bought)
2 tbs. fresh squeezed lemon juice
zest of one lemon

In a mixer with the whip attachment, mix the cheese until fluffy. Add the whipped topping and lemonade concentrate until smooth and fluffy. Mix in the juice and zest of the lemon. Spread the lemon curd in a thin layer at the bottom of the pie crust. Fold the cream mixture on top of the lemon curd and smooth out with spatula. At this point you can leave it as-is, or adorn with more whipped topping. I like to make some fresh whipped cream to decorate the top. Chill for at least an hour to firm up before serving. Pie should last in the ice box for approx 4 days unless you have triple digit weather, in which case it may last only one night.

Chocolate Peanut Butter Ice Box Pie
(from this blog post)

Crush 25 chocolate sandwich cookies & mix with 4 tbs. melted butter
Press into a pie pan and bake in a 350 degree oven for 15 minutes. Let cool.
(You can also simply buy a pre-made cookie crust to save time but you would not have any left-over cookies to munch on at midnight)

Mix the following together until creamy and incorporated
8 oz. cream cheese
1 cup creamy peanut butter
1 1/4 cup confectioners sugar
8 oz. tub of non-dairy whipped topping

Dianne's Tweaks: She used a chocolate crust and crushed a handful of butter toffee peanuts to sprinkle on top of finished pie.

My Tweaks: I place half the filling in the pie shell and then drizzle 1/4 cup of hot fudge sauce all over. I then cover that with the rest of the filling and garnish with shaved chocolate and whipped cream.

Chocolate Dreamsicle Pie
(from this blog post)

1 Graham Cracker Crust (I used left-over cookies that I pulverized in the food processor instead of graham crackers)
1 8 oz. package of cream cheese (softened)
1 8 oz. tub of frozen whipped topping
1/2 cup of frozen concentrate orange juice
1 tbsp. of good vanilla extract
2 oz. of melted dark chocolate (to drizzle on top of pie)
Orange wedges to garnish.

In your mixer with the whisk attachment, beat cream cheese until it is fluffy. Add the orange juice concentrate and vanilla. Then beat in the whipped topping until all is combined and fluffy. Spoon into cooled crust. Melt chocolate and place in a small plastic sandwich bag, snip the corner and drizzle in any pattern all over the top of pie. Garnish with orange wedges. Chill for at least an hour before serving.