As we’re catapulted from a very wet spring straight into a very hot summer, the time has come for chilled and frozen desserts, namely those tantalizing treats often called “icebox pies” — some combination of flavored gelatin or pudding mix and whipped topping in a graham cracker or cookie crust.
Here are four preposterously easy recipes that can be pulled together in a few minutes and popped in the fridge or freezer, ready to eat at the end of a hot summer day (or in the middle, or at the beginning, as you wish) to help cool off your mouthparts.
Lemon Icebox Pie, Two Ways
Here are two recipes for lemon icebox pie. The first is simpler, but the second offers more lemony flavor.
For the first pie, mix two 3-ounce boxes of lemon gelatin with two containers (or 16 ounces) of whipped topping. Stir until the gelatin is dissolved, then pour everything into a prepared graham cracker crust. There will be a lot of filling, so just pile it up nice and high in the middle. Freeze until firm, two or three hours. Pull it out five minutes before serving to allow it to soften. Garnish with extra whipped topping and a lemon slice, especially if you’re going to take an Instagram shot. Store in the freezer and take it out whenever you need a slice, or every hour on the hour. Program your digital clock to speed up so that hours are condensed into half-hours, or 10-minute intervals.
For the second pie, you’ll need a fresh lemon, zested and juiced. Then pour 2/3 cup boiling water over a 3-ounce box of lemon gelatin. Stir until the gelatin is dissolved, then add 1 cup ice water, 1/2 teaspoon lemon zest and 2 tablespoons juice. Fold in one container of whipped topping and blend until smooth. Pour into a graham cracker crust and chill for two hours in the fridge or until firm. Blend a teaspoon of zest with another container of whipped topping, then spread over the chilled pie. Garnish with a sprinkle of zest and serve. Store in the fridge or freezer.
Creamy Yogurt Icebox Pie
Mix 18 ounces of any flavor yogurt (that’s three 6-ounce containers) with one container of whipped topping, then pour into a prepared crust. Freeze for two hours. Slice and serve. That’s it!
If using fruity yogurt, try blending in 1 cup of fresh fruit, or garnish with fresh fruit before serving. Make it “healthy” by using seasonal organic fruit from the farmers market to balance out the hydrogenated vegetable oil and high fructose corn syrup in the whipped topping.
It’s also fun to use dessert-flavored yogurts, like key lime pie, Boston cream pie or coconut cream pie. (That way you’ll have pie-flavored pie!) To make a low-fat or low-sugar version, use sugar-free, fat-free yogurt with sugar-free whipped topping. It will not taste as good, but that’s why you weigh 30 pounds less than I do.
Triple Chocolate Pie
Take one package (3.4 ounces) of instant chocolate pudding and mix with 1 cup 2 percent milk. Fold in one container of whipped topping, minus 1/2 cup, set aside in the fridge. Pour into prepared chocolate cookie crust.
Now melt 2 ounces semi-sweet chocolate chips or baker’s chocolate, either in a double boiler or in the microwave at 30-second intervals. Blend with 1/3 cup sweetened condensed milk until smooth, then spoon this mixture over the pudding and gently swirl with a knife.
Freeze four to six hours. Let it stand at room temperature for about 10 or 15 minutes before serving and garnish with reserved whipped topping and chocolate chips or chocolate shavings. Try this pie with chocolate, banana, butterscotch or pistachio-flavored pudding.
The Lower Crust
You can use store-bought graham cracker or cookie crusts with all these pies, or you can make your own. Make fine crumbs by putting them in a plastic baggie and crushing them with a rolling pin. Pro tip: crushing things is fun. Super pro tip: seal the bag.
For the graham cracker crust, crunch up 10 whole graham crackers or enough to fill 11/2 cups. Mix with five tablespoons butter (some recipes call for four, but we must support local dairy farmers by consuming as much butter as possible) and 1/3 cup sugar. Many graham cracker crust recipes don’t use sugar, but it helps bind the crust. Besides, you need as much sugar as possible during these trying times. Health experts may disagree, but if you can just get the experts to eat some pie, they will stop talking and leave you alone.
For the cookie crust, crunch up 15 chocolate sandwich cookies and mix with four tablespoons melted butter. Or five, for the dairy farmers. Press it into the bottom of a 9-inch pie plate. For both crust recipes, squish those buttery crumbs down firmly. Use your bare fingers, aka “the pioneer way,” or use the bottom of a measuring cup to smash everything into place. Chill for an hour or two to firm up, then add filling.