Mini lemon icebox pies in ramekins

lemonpiesRecently I was out enjoying my lovely little seaside town, when I stopped in at the Serenity Lifestyle Boutique. In the clearance section, I happened to glimpse an adorable set of ramekins in a lovely gradient of greens and I had to have it. I really like individual, mini desserts, so you can imagine that there are a decent amount of ramekins lurking around my cabinets… And mini lemon icebox pies are just the way to fill them!

In my sight, lemon icebox pies are a classically southern dish. On a sweltering, humid summer day when it’s too hot to turn on the oven, nothing hits the spot like a no bake pie–especially one with the refreshing tartness of lemon. I’ve added my own twists to this recipe based on my personal tastes, but it doesn’t deviate too far from the classic.

Mini Lemon Icebox Pies

Ingredients for the crystallized mint leaves:

  • 8 to 10 medium sized fresh mint leaves
  • 1/3 cup+ sugar
  • splash of vanilla
  • splash of creme de menthe

These little guys are mostly a garnish and they’re optional, but I think they’re tasty! Mint is a delicious leaf. I also like to conserve resources by using the leftover sugar to add to my pie crust. If you don’t make the crystallized mint leaves, just follow the directions below to make the lightly flavoured sugar in the pie crust.

This is a pretty simple step. Just combine your sugar and vanilla and creme de menthe and mix them together. Wash your mint leaves, and dry them a bit but not completely. Dip each one into the sugar mixture and place them on some wax or parchment paper to dry. Sprinkle a little extra sugar on top! Leave them somewhere dry and warm, but don’t actively bake them or apply heat. They’ll get sad and crispy.

Ingredients for the pie crust:

  • 2 packets graham crackers
  • 8 tbsp butter, melted
  • 1/3 cup sugar (roughly)
  • splash of creme de menthe
  • splash of vanilla extract

There’s two different ways you can make this crust. First option is to pile everything into a food processor and whiz away until it firms up a bit and is ready to be pressed into your ramekins. If you’re without a food processor, no worries, you can place your graham crackers into a large plastic┬ábag and crunch them up yourself. This is a good option if you need to work out some aggression. Once you’ve crunched them up to a fairly fine powder, mix with the other ingredients in a large bowl.

The pie crust is the only part of this “no bake” experience that involves a bit of baking, sorry! Preheat your oven to 350F while you prepare to fill your ramekins. When you’re ready, swipe your finger through some butter and wipe it around the bottoms and sides of your ramekins to help keep things from sticking. Fill the ramekins up to just below the rim with the graham cracker mixture (this recipe makes enough pie crust for 8 mini pies). Press down the centre to the bottom of the ramekin so that it becomes a firm layer. While you’re doing that, the sides of the crust should rise up naturally, so you’ll just need to pat them against the walls of the ramekin to make sure they’re ready.

When you’re satisfied, place them on top of a baking sheet and into the oven. Definitely keep a close eye on these little guys–they burn easily! Bake for 8 to 10 minutes.

Ingredients for the pie filling:

  • 8oz cream cheese, softened (1 block)
  • 14oz sweetened condensed milk (1 can)
  • 4 tbsp fresh lemon zest
  • 1/2 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract

While your crusts bake, you can make your filling. In a stand mixer combine the cream cheese and the sweetened condensed milk and beat until homogenous. (I actually ended up using the whip attachment to aerate the mixture a bit and I liked the way it turned out, but either one works!) Add your lemon zest and lemon juice next and stir until combined.

Vanilla extract goes in last! My lovely aunt gifted me some vanilla bean paste this past holiday season, so I used that in this recipe. If you look closely at the photo, you can see the flecks of vanilla in the pie filling! I used only a 1/2 tsp of the paste and the flavour was excellent, but go ahead and use the full 1 tsp for traditional vanilla or imitation extract.

By the way, this filling recipe should fit the crust recipe above perfectly! (That is, enough for 8 mini pies). If you want to halve one, go ahead and halve the other.

Assembly time!

It’s time for the fun part–assemble your baby pies! Make sure that your ramekins/crusts are cool. If you’re impatient like me, make sure they’re cool enough to handle and place them in the fridge to speed up the process. (I once saved a burning graham cracker pie crust by shoving it in the freezer straight from the oven, so that’s an option too.)

When they’re ready, simply spoon your filling into your crusts. Pop them in the icebox for a few hours or overnight if you have the time/willpower. Finally, when you’re ready to serve, garnish with your lovely crystallized mint leaves!

Looking for a fun individual dessert for a dinner party or a tasty night in? Try these mini lemon icebox pies!

I hope you enjoy them, thanks for reading!

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