Summertime in Augusta, Georgia is oppressively hot. Oh, I know it's only May and all, I know it's barely summer, but yesterday was 97 degrees and it feels like August feels everywhere else I've lived. Perhaps that's why it's named Augusta. The air here is pregnant with water- its holding all the water it can without actually raining. Step outside, and it's like stepping into a foggy bathroom after a hot shower.
So what do we do in sticky humidity, when the chocolate chips are melting in the jar on the counter because someone in this family thinks air conditioning is for wimps? We make icebox pie. And because it is strawberry season, and because nothing refreshes like bright, tart lemon, and because Martha was kind enough to publish this recipe in her June magazine, we make Strawberry Lemonade Icebox Pie.
Now to me, icebox pie is something that you don't bake, like a eggless cheesecake or chocolate pudding pie. This pie you bake (and I was very loath to turn on the oven, believe me), so it baffled me where the icebox part came in.
The answer is, you absolutely must refrigerate this thing, or else the butter in the crust and the juice from the strawberries and egg whites (if you go there) make a big soggy mess. We first ate it after letting it sit on the counter for hours, and it was a little soupy, but the leftovers stored in the fridge were the proper consistency. So I wouldn't recommend it for all-day-in-the-sun cookouts, but it would work great for a party where you can keep it cold until eating time.
Strawberry-Lemonade Icebox Pie, from Martha Stewart Living June 2011 Issue
Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Get out your 9-in pie or tart pan.
10 graham crackers, zipped into a ziplock pounded into smithereens with a rolling pin. Or pulsed in a food processor until fine.
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 t coarse salt
5 T unsalted butter, melted
Mix 1 1/3 cup of the graham cracker crumbs with the 1/4 cup sugar and the 1/4 t coarse salt. Add the butter and mix with a fork until moist and thoroughly combined. You can also do all this in the food processor.
Press the mixture firmly into the sides and bottom of the pie dish using your fingers or a dry measuring cup. Freeze for 30 minutes. (Or 15, as the case may be.)
Once chilled, bake the crust for 10 minutes in the 375 oven, until golden brown. Remove the crust and reduce the oven temperature to 325 degrees.
Meanwhile, make the filling.
so many yellow ingredients!
1 14-oz can of sweetened condensed milk
2/3 cup strained fresh squeezed lemon juice (from 4-6 lemons)
2 large egg yolks (reserve whites for meringue)
1 large egg
Whisk all these ingredients together and pour into the pre-baked crust. (It's ok if it's still warm). Bake at 325 until the center is set, 25-30 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool to room temperature. Then refrigerate for at least 3 hours (the icebox part).
30 minutes before the 3 hours are up, prepare the topping.
12 oz (2 cups) sliced strawberries (just use a whole quart).
2 tablespoons sugar plus 1/2 cup and 2 tbs sugar
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
3 large egg whites, room temperature
Sprinkle the strawberries with the 2 tbs sugar and lemon juice, and let stand for about 30 minutes.
OPTIONAL MERINGUE: While the strawberries are standing, heat the egg whites with the 1/2 cup plus 2 tbs sugar in a heat-proof bowl set over a pot of simmering water, stirring until the sugar is dissolved and the egg whites are warm.
Using a handheld or counter mixer, whip the egg whites at high speed until medium peaks form.
Now assemble! Drain the juice from the strawberries and spoon them over the lemon pie. If you want you can stop here, it will be fab fabby fab. A delectable dessert flavored with the vibrant colors of red and yellow.
However, if you chose the meringue, spread the whipped egg whites over the strawberries. Toast the meringue using a kitchen torch or the broiler in your over. The broiler is RISKY. BUSINESS. Check it every minute AT LEAST. I swear my pie was only in the oven for 3 minutes and here's what it looked like, not pretty:
Still quite tasty though.