lazy, hazy florida inspires a strawberry lemonade icebox pie

18 Jul

I miss Florida. The typical crowds of older folks, out for morning walks in their matching pastel attire? Sure, they were there. But in vastly reduced numbers, as we visited in late May, after many of these snowbirds have returned to their first homes found somewhere in the north.

Florida is special to me. I was first intrigued by its coastline when a clever Reading Rainbow episode showed miles of endless (and people-less) coast strewn with perfect shells, friendly manatees waiting to be given a rub-down, and using nets to trawl for small aquatic life in a quiet, serene bay.

I was further enticed when a fall visit, several years later, found me collecting such perfect shells, watching fish jump at dusk, and spying on lazy iguanas that appeared to bask innocently in the sun. I was amazed by rays swimming near my dinner table while a hungry cat prowled underneath, and I experienced Halloween without a massive pile of leaves to jump into.

Several years later, a Christmas was spent on the beach, avoiding the raw oysters that adults claimed to enjoy, leaving my sandals behind to walk several hundred yards through a barren tidal cove, and discovering that I preferred fake crab salad to the real stuff. Everywhere, people wished Jesus a happy birthday – who is this hey-soos, I wondered? On that same trip, I spent my birthday following dolphins, whose trajectories paralleled mine on the shore, and I exploded crazy fantastic fireworks, which made me nervous and giddy at the same time.

Florida is magical.

This year’s visit took us to Sanibel Island. As a hardcore sheller and rockhound whenever shells or rocks appear underfoot, I was keen to meander along the beach, allowing my body to contour to the expected Sanibel Stoop as I searched for shells. And while the bounty was much less than it would be were it the stormier, windier wintry months, it was perfect to me.

Although I lost some earrings to the sand, I see them as buried treasure that someone will excitedly find some day – perhaps one of the old folks with their state-of-the-art metal detector? The hours that I spent on the beach and in the water were perfect. The Bell’s Two Hearted Ale available at the local convenience store was perfect. And so were the lemurs that were caged up next to us in the campground. ……Errr?

When I returned home, I was eager to capture the summery feel that was circling in my brain, fresh from a good dose of authentic Florida sun – and sunburn. Luckily, Martha Stewart never lets me down. As I write this, Martha has 2,302,982 followers on Twitter. That’s a lot of admirers to not let down. She can handle it though. Why? She’s Martha.

Waiting for me at home was an issue of Martha Stewart Living. My issues always arrive late, and tend to be ripped in odd places that normally-delivered magazines shouldn’t be ripped in. I’m convinced my mailman pilfers them for a week or two, before feeling ashamed and returning them to my mailbox. Or perhaps he’s made all the recipes. It’s the only logical explanation.

In this particular issue, there was an article on pies. In the pie article was a recipe for delight: a Strawberry Lemonade Icebox Pie. It sounded just summery enough to remind me of Florida. And it worked – it was a sweet, sugary wonder that was lovely both to eat and appreciate.

Between a filling of sweetened condensed milk, lemon juice, and egg yolks, and a magnificent heap of fresh strawberries, this pie mimicked sweet-but-tart-but-mostly-sweet strawberry lemonade to a T. And I’m pretty sure the pie itself was electric – it took all the photo editing tools I could find to decrease the brightness of the berries and lemony filling, despite taking pictures in the shade.

The recipe involved a meringue topping as well, but photos of the pie after being meringueified are not in existence. Why? Like a fool, I left the meringue under the broiler for a few minutes too long. It turned into a nasty burnt mess. I had luckily piled so much on that I could easily scrape half off and re-brown the rest, after which the taste was phenomenal, but the appearance…. less than stellar.

Still, keep the meringue. It helps to cut the sweetness of the pie. So does the graham cracker crust, which was, strangely, the first of its kind that I had ever made.

Strawberry Lemonade Icebox Pie {recipe from Martha Stewart}

Makes one summery, reminiscent of Florida, pie.

Crust

++Ingredients:++

Oil-based cooking spray
9 to 10 graham crackers, broken into pieces
1/4 c. sugar
Coarse salt
5 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted

++Directions:++

Preheat oven to 375° F. Coat a 9-inch pie plate with cooking spray. Pulse crackers in a food processor until finely ground; measure 1 1/3 cups to use. Pulse cracker crumbs, sugar, and 1/4 teaspoon salt in food processor to combine. Add butter, and pulse until mixture is moist and holds together when pressed.

Press crust evenly into bottom and up sides of pie plate, making sure the sides and rim of the crust are firmly pressed. Freeze for 30 minutes.

Bake crust until firm and turning darker around edges, 10 to 11 minutes. Remove from oven, and reduce oven temperature to 325° F.

Filling

++Ingredients:++

1 can (14 oz.) sweetened condensed milk
2/3 c. strained fresh lemon juice (from 4 large lemons, or 5-6 small lemons)
2 large egg yolks (reserve whites for meringue), plus 1 large egg, lightly beaten
coarse salt

Topping

++Ingredients:++

12 oz. strawberries, sliced (~2 c.)
3/4 c. sugar
2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
3 large egg whites, room temperature (2 reserved from filling)

++Directions:++

Whisk together condensed milk, lemon juice, egg yolks and egg, and 1/4 tsp. salt. Pour filling into warm piecrust. Bake until center is set, 25 to 30 minutes (mine took several more minutes, as always). Transfer to a wire rack, and let cool to room temperature. Refrigerate for at least 3 hours.

Make the topping: Sprinkle berries with 2 tbsp. sugar and the lemon juice. Let stand for 30 minutes.

Meanwhile, heat egg whites and remaining 1/2 c. plus 2 tbsp. sugar in the heatproof bowl of a mixer set over a pan of simmering water until sugar dissolves and mixture is warm to the touch, 2 to 3 minutes. Transfer to mixer, and whisk on high speed until medium peaks form, 8 to 9 minutes.

Spoon berries over pie. Spoon meringue over top. Place pie under broiler, with rack in lowest position, until meringue is just browned. Alternatively, use a kitchen torch to brown the top.

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19 Responses to “lazy, hazy florida inspires a strawberry lemonade icebox pie”

  1. Mum 2011/07/18 at 16:24 #

    And, of course,(also in a recent issue) Martha tells you what to do with all of those exquisite shells that you found…
    (loved your opening photo…just like a not-so-secret pathway to the paradise that is a beach…!)
    Weeeeeeeeeee!

  2. Xiaolu @ 6 Bittersweets 2011/07/18 at 16:28 #

    What a fabulous dessert for summer — I am definitely starting to feel the heat every time I turn on the oven to bake. No-bake desserts especially ones this refreshing are welcome!

  3. emma schultz 2011/07/18 at 17:47 #

    Mum: Hmm, perhaps the mailman still has my copy of the issue with shell uses… honestly, they show up weeks to weeks+weeks late!

    I loved that pathway too; a gateway, rather, to the spot where my earrings remain lost and unloved. Weeeeeee!

    Xiaolu: This is definitely a refreshing burst of sweet sweetness. Beware, though, the oven does get used for this one – once to bake the crust, once to set the filling, and a third time to brown the meringue (as I chose not to use my kitchen torch this time around). I actually made this dessert at the end of May, when my apartment could still use a bit of warming up. Now I’m feeling the heat too… and not wanting to use the oven!

    • emma schultz 2011/07/20 at 16:23 #

      Mum: Update! Special delivery! Mail call! My August issue of Martha Stewart Living has now arrived! So, I know now what to do with all my shells (get crafty!), as well as all those millions of pine needles around me (make popsicles!). Goody goody.

  4. Maris(In Good Taste) 2011/07/18 at 18:47 #

    Gorgeous photos and very delicious pie!

  5. Hannah 2011/07/19 at 00:15 #

    Emma, this is gorgeous! I’ve never heard of an icebox pie, and am astounded to realise that I could easily make this dairy-free with just a few tiny subs (and will have to think of somethign besides graham crackers, as they don’t exist here). Come on, Summer, hurry up and get here… I want delicious cold pie!

    • emma schultz 2011/07/19 at 06:51 #

      Hannah: And I am as astounded to hear that graham crackers don’t exist in Australia…. quoi?? But to keep things all Martha, all the time, you could make your own graham crackers, if you were feeling adventurous.

      I think you’ve got a ways to go before summer arrives:( But you can always dream!

  6. sophia 2011/07/19 at 01:40 #

    I love the writing, the style, the photos and the food here…it’s so….dreamy. It makes me want to swim out to Florida and have a picnic of strawberry lemonade icebox pie by the beach.

    • emma schultz 2011/07/19 at 06:54 #

      Thank you, sophia! I found Florida to be very dreamy, so I’m glad that these feelings translated well to you through my photos and words. I wish I could swim down to Florida right now – although it might be a bit hot down there at the moment, hmm? Mmm, beach pie.

  7. Adrian (Food Rehab) 2011/07/19 at 06:23 #

    This looks summery indeed- what a great recipe! Just seeing these pics of Florida puts me back into ‘holiday’ mode! It’s freezing down here in Melbourne Australia.

    • emma schultz 2011/07/19 at 07:00 #

      Adrian, oof I feel bad for you chilly Aussies! Not only are your bananas ridiculously expensive, but your temps are freezing. Meanwhile I blather on licentiously about fresh fruits and beach scenes. Forgive me:)

      A little holiday mode every now and then isn't so bad, though, right?

  8. Brianne 2011/07/19 at 17:10 #

    …and the pie arrives! It looks delicious and summery in practically every way. Meringues scare me, though. I think I would whip up a bit of cream instead. (I hope Martha wouldn’t be too upset!) I am one of her 2 million+ followers on Twitter…

    I’ve never been to Florida. Someday, I hope. As always, your photos are beautiful!

  9. Sarah 2011/07/19 at 19:40 #

    You make Florida sound so fun. For the span of about 3 months my son kept telling me he was moving to Florida. Then one day he learned they had hurricanes. He’s never leaving Arizona now. I guess I’ll just have to retire there.

    I love how bright your pie looks. It’s making me wish I felt more summery and less melty. YUM!

  10. emma schultz 2011/07/19 at 21:02 #

    Brianne: Ahh, the girl who loves Twitter! You can love it enough for both of us, okay:) And yes, finally, right? The pie arrives. What’s with this month and a half behind schedule business? Is it because I can’t stop watching the Canadian drama about Horse Girl? I think so.

    I bet whipped cream would go just fine with this pie – especially if you keep it on the less-sweet side of things. Finally, I do hope you get to Florida someday, preferably before the matching pastel jumpsuits phase hits you. I wish I had a pastel jumpsuit… but I only have a bold, swishy color-blocked long-sleeved zip-up onesie.

    Sarah: I had fun at every single place we went on this trip – – it was the most wonderful two weeks I’ve ever spent traveling…. Swiss Alps excluded, I suppose:) But since shelling in Florida was what I was most looking forward to, I’m exceedingly thrilled that everything about my time on Sanibel (and all of the Florida coast, really) was pleasant, calming and memorable.

    I am glad that I didn’t visit during hurricane season. Arizona sounds safe…. except for all those poisonous critters out there in the dessert!

    I understand your meltyness. It’s finally hot here! But… I love it:)

  11. yummy supper 2011/07/20 at 11:57 #

    Emma, Shelling, palm trees, and strawberry ice box pie… what could be more summery than that! I haven’t been to Florida in years – your post took me on a little journey there. Thanks!
    -E

    • emma schultz 2011/07/20 at 12:40 #

      E, I don’t think it gets much summerier than that, really! I’m glad I could be the one to bring you somewhere this time… your posts take me all over the world, to places I have and have not been.

      I love the wind in the palm trees in Florida. If only I could have eaten that strawberry icebox pie underneath one – that would have been heavenly.

  12. Julia @ Mélanger 2011/07/21 at 02:10 #

    Icebox pie you say? You had me intrigued. This sounds like a great idea. Will try to remember this one come summer!

    • emma schultz 2011/07/21 at 07:53 #

      Julia, indeed I say icebox pie! Another version of this recipe would actually use pre-made lemonade concentrate, rather than freshly-squeezed lemons. As you are on an inspired homemade vs. pre-packaged kick, I’m sure you too would prefer the homemade version:)

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