Icebox pies: cool treats for hot days


July 24, 2002|By Liz Atwood | Liz Atwood,SUN STAFF

No one wants to cook on a sweltering summer day, but who can refuse a homemade dessert?

Lauren Chattman's answer to this dilemma is as easy as pie. In Icebox Pies: 100 Scrumptious Recipes for No Bake No Fail Pies (Harvard Common Press, May 2002, $16.95), Chattman describes a way to make a delicious dessert with only a few minutes of cooking.

She defines an icebox pie as one having to spend at least three hours in the refrigerator or freezer. These pies are easy to make, with cookie-crumb crusts that need no rolling and fillings that are uncooked or cooked on the stove top and need no baking.

Chattman, a former pastry chef, writes clearly and makes suggestions for which crusts and toppings to use with each pie recipe.

And the variety of these no-bake desserts is astounding - more than 70 pie recipes, plus a chapter on crusts and one on toppings. The book contains recipes for mousse, pudding and custard pies as simple as Peanut Butter Pie; fruit and cream combinations like Ricotta Cream Pie With Blood Oranges; ice cream pies that include a Banana Split; a chapter for chocolate lovers and another on icebox pies that taste like "real" baked pies.

In this last category is a Blueberry Icebox Pie that contains a cornstarch-thickened crust and a graham cracker and oatmeal crust that was a breeze to assemble, easy to slice and a hit with the home crowd.

Blueberry Icebox Pie

Makes one 9-inch pie; 6 to 8 servings

1/4 cup cornstarch

1/4 cup water

5 cups fresh blueberries, picked over for stems, or 5 cups frozen blueberries (divided use)

2/3 cup sugar

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

1 prepared crumb crust (recipe follows)

Combine the cornstarch and water in a small bowl and stir the mixture until it is smooth. Combine 3 cups of the blueberries, the sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg in a medium-size saucepan.

Bring the pot to a boil, stirring occasionally. Stir in the cornstarch mixture and cook the mixture over medium heat, stirring constantly, until it is thickened. Cook an additional 2 minutes.

Remove the pot from the heat and stir in the butter and remaining 2 cups of blueberries. Scrape the filling into the prepared crust. Cover the pie with plastic wrap and refrigerate it until the filling is completely set, at least 6 hours and up to 1 day.

Slice and serve with dollop of whipped cream.

Graham Cracker and Oatmeal Crumb Crust

Makes one 9-inch pie crust

11 whole graham crackers (to yield about 1 1/3 cups crumbs)

5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

1/2 cup old-fashioned (not quick-cooking) rolled oats

3 tablespoons firmly packed light-brown sugar

1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract

1/8 teaspoon salt

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Place the graham crackers in the work bowl of a food processor and process them until they are finely ground. Combine the crumbs, butter, oats, brown sugar, vanilla and salt in a medium-size mixing bowl and stir until the mixture is moistened.

Press the mixture evenly into the bottom of a 9-inch pie plate and all the way up the sides of the pan, packing it tightly with your fingertips so it is even and compacted. Bake the crust until crisp, 6 to 8 minutes. Let it cool completely before filling it. (The crust may be wrapped in plastic and frozen for up to 1 month.)

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