Lemon Ice Box Pie

Lemon Ice Box Pie

Lemon flavored anything is delicious. My favorite drink is lemonade. Lemon cake is an absolute necessity for my birthday every year. Then there’s Lemonheads! And who doesn’t love a lemon drop martini?

One of the first desserts I learned to make was Lemon Ice Box Pie. Mom had (or has is actually more likely) a glass pie plate that was red on the outside and white inside. It was the designated pie plate for this delicious summer time treat. As I got older, I decided it didn’t need to be hot outside to enjoy Lemon Ice Box Pie. At some point, my sister added cream cheese to the filling and it was even more tasty.

Mom’s original recipe called for a vanilla wafer crust. She used crushed vanilla wafers on the bottom and whole wafers around the edge. Mom topped her pie with a beautiful, silky meringue. I don’t eat the meringue but the pie feels naked and needy without it.

I’ve had to adjust the recipe a bit since I can’t have gluten. I use a pecan crust. Other than that the recipe has survived over the years and remains a family favorite. In case you plan to try it, please, please, please, use Eagle Brand condensed milk. I can’t be held responsible for the results if you try some other non-Eagle brand. @DariusCooks is usually correct, but this time, it does matter who squoze the lemon juice. Since lemon is the star of the show here, squeeze the juice yourself. Amen? Amen.

Y’all, check out Darius Williams all over SM and pick up a cookbook, too.




1 ½ cups of chopped pecans

1 Tbs oat flour

1 Tsp brown sugar

¼ cup of unsalted butter

Pie filling:

8 oz. package of cream cheese at room temperature (soft)

2 cans of Eagle Brand Sweetened Condensed milk (we all know that’s not evaporated milk, right?)

1 tsp. Vanilla paste or extract

½ tsp. Lemon extract

3 egg yolks, room temperature

⅔ cup of fresh squeezed lemon juice and zest from the lemons


6 egg whites (three from the yolks used earlier plus three more)

2 Tbs sugar

Preheat the oven to 350° F.

Add pecans, oat flour, brown sugar, and melted butter to a food processor. Use high speed to processor until the mixture is crumbly. Turn out into a pie plate and press crust along the bottom and up the sides of the pan. Bake for 8-10 minutes until toasted. The crust should appear dry. Allow to cool before filling.

Add the cream cheese to a large bowl or use a stand mixer. Beat the cream cheese for 3 minutes until light and fluffy. Add condensed milk to the cream cheese slowly, mixing constantly to allow the mixture to smooth out before continuing. After the first can is incorporated completely, the second can be added more quickly. Beat on medium speed until smooth. Add egg yolks one at a time. Mix in lemon zest and vanilla paste and beat for one minute. Filling should be smooth and silky. Stir or fold in the lemon juice. 

The lemon juice will cause the mixture to be soupy at first. It will thicken as the lemon juice “cooks” the eggs. Once the lemon juice is incorporated, pour the pie filling into the crust.

Prepare the meringue by beating the egg whites and sugar until soft peaks form. Add the meringue to the pie and bake for 15 minutes. The meringue should have lightly browned peaks. Allow pie to cool to room temperature and then chill in the “ice box” overnight or at least four hours.

Aunt Bernice’s Red Velvet Cake

Holiday Traditions

Mrs. Bernice Hodges

This is my adopted aunt, Bernice. Her actual niece, Eureka, is one of my oldest and dearest friends. We met in 1986, having both decided that we wanted to be members of the same sorority, and found ourselves to be line sisters. The epitome of a lady, Aunt Bernice must have thought me to be a natural born hooligan. All she could do was shake her head, which she did quite often as she watched me attempt to maneuver through what I thought was adulthood.

She taught me to make a Red Velvet Cake in classic southern tradition. If Tuskegee University was the best thing that ever happened to me, then living with Aunt Bernice while I was a student there was the next best thing. In her loving honor, here is Aunt Bernice’s Red Velvet Cake with pecans, not walnuts, because they grew in her back yard and why not?


½ cup (one stick) of unsalted butter at room temperature

½ cup of vegetable oil

3 eggs, also at room temperature

1 ½ cups of granulated sugar

1 tsp vanilla extract or paste

2 ½ cups Swans Down cake flour, sifted three times

¼ cup Dutch cocoa powder

1 tsp baking soda

1 tsp baking powder

½ tsp salt

1 cup full fat buttermilk (or 1 cup sour cream and ¼ cup milk)

1 Tbs vinegar

2 oz liquid red food coloring (2 small bottles)

Prepare two 9” or three 8” round pans with butter or Crisco. Dust with cocoa powder. Use parchment paper to line the bottom of each pan.

Preheat oven to 350° Fahrenheit.

Add butter and oil to a large mixing bowl or the bowl of a stand mixer and beat for one minute. Add sugar and continue to beat until smooth. Crack eggs into a small bowl to avoid getting shells in the batter. Add eggs to the butter and sugar mixture one at a time. Allow eggs to incorporate into the mixture before continuing. Add vanilla and stir.

Sift together flour, cocoa powder, baking soda and salt.

Combine buttermilk, vinegar, and red food coloring.

Alternate adding the dry and wet ingredients to the creamed butter, sugar, and eggs beginning with the wet ingredients and ending with the dry. It’s not necessary to wait for flour to fully incorporate before adding the remaining liquid.