My husband and I were reminiscing one day about food (always one of my favorite topics!) and various old favorites of ours. As we were oohing & ahhing, fondly remembering some of the ones we had loved the most, he mentioned loving that ”lemon pie with the graham cracker crust” that his mom used to make every year at Christmas and asked if I remembered it.
Of course I remembered it! It was classic! A creamy mixture of of non-dairy whipped topping , cream cheese and lemon pudding sitting atop a rich, buttery graham cracker crust. It was a sweet, creamy, and refreshingly delicious way to end a filling holiday meal. She made it every year. It was really good, but of course was full of ingredients we can no longer have. I got to thinking……as I usually do, how can I re-create the flavors and consistency of the pie using ingredients we can have while also making it a little healthier with less processed ingredients?
I thought coconut milk would be a good ingredient to start with, as it’s rich and creamy and would mimic the consistency of whipped cream. Raw cashews are my “go to” when I want to make something with the consistency of cream cheese or sour cream. Coconut oil would add some additional fat, a smooth mouth feel and would allow it to get nice and firm in the refrigerator, but soften slightly at room temperature, assuring a creamy texture. I thought pure maple syrup would give it a subtle sweetness without overpowering it. Of course fresh lemon juice and grated lemon peel would be a must, along with a little pure lemon extract.
I played around with the ratio of ingredients and taste tested. It was lemony, but felt like it was missing something. I decided to try adding a little pure vanilla extract; it actually really freshened it up. I felt like I was almost there, but it still felt like it was missing something. It tasted lemony, but it didn’t look lemony! I really didn’t want to use food coloring and started to ponder what natural foods are yellow. I immediately thought of prepared mustard, but of course thought that would ruin the flavor and be silly to add! Turmeric! Of course! I tried adding a tiny bit, it made a difference! I tasted tested and it didn’t affect the flavor at all! I was almost there, I added a tad bit more and tasted again. Perfect! The color was a pretty shade of lemon yellow and the flavor seemed to be even fresher tasting now that the color was a pretty shade of lemon yellow!
My husband has a real sweet tooth, I’m usually trying to encourage him to keep in mind proper portion control. I decided to make my pie into single portion little lemon pies to help him learn that his appetite really can be satisfied with a smaller portion. I call them “pie-lets” because I think they’re cute and should have a cute name! They can be kept in the freezer for about a month and taken out when we want a little bite of dessert!
Cool & Creamy Lemon Pie-lets
These cute little tarts are perfect when you want just a little bite of dessert, sweet, refreshing and creamy enough to satisfy your sweet tooth! Makes 12 (3” wide) pie-lets.
Ingredients for Crust:
6 gluten-free graham style crackers (I used Kinnikinnick S’moreables brand (free from gluten, soy, peanuts, dairy & nuts) *it should make about 3/4 cup crumbs
3 Tbs Ghee, melted
2 1/2 Tbs coconut palm sugar
Ingredients for Filling:
3/4 cup raw cashews, soaked for at least an hour & rinsed well
3/4 cup Full fat coconut milk (about a half a 14oz can)
2 1/2 Tbs coconut oil, melted
3 Tbs fresh squeezed lemon juice
Grated lemon peel from one lemon
2 1/2 Tbs pure maple syrup
1 tsp pure lemon extract
1/2 tsp pure vanilla extract
1/4 tsp sea salt
1/4 tsp ground turmeric
Directions for Crust:
Place S’moreables in a food processor & pulse until they become fine crumbs. Place in a small bowl & stir in coconut palm sugar. Add melted ghee and gently toss until mixture becomes consistency of damp sand. Divide evenly among 12 silicon muffin cups (it’s about a Tbs per muffin cup). Press down firmly with the bottom a cup (my dry measuring cup fit perfectly) or use your fingers to press into a crust along to bottom & slightly up the sides of each cup. Place in freezer & freeze for at least 30 minutes.
Directions for Filling:
Place all ingredients in a high speed blender & blend until smooth & cream, stopping occasionally to scrape down the sides if needed. Remove crusts
From freezer & fill each cup about 1/2 full, distributing evenly in each cup. Return to freezer & freeze for at least two hours, until nice & firm. Remove from freezer and pop out of silicon molds. Store in a covered container in the freezer until ready to serve. To serve, remove from freezer and thaw in refrigerator for about 20-30 minutes or in the countertop for about 15 minutes or until soft, but firm. Top work coconut milk whipped cream and garnish with fresh mint leaves if desired.
This recipe is gluten-free, soy-free and vegetarian