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A telling factor of a true Southern home is the presence of a dessert at a moment’s notice.

You never know when a friend, cousin, co-worker, or even a complete stranger will stop by in need of the latest gossip, iced tea, and something sweet. So we make sure the Love, Reese blog is full of the most delectable (and oftentimes pretty easy to whip up) desserts from our favorite bakers down South; we want our readers to fill their homes and share their treats with all the loved ones in their lives.

Cynthia Hoyt of the Atlanta and Southern lifestyle blog Darling Down South knows the value and importance of always having some sort of dessert ready for guests, and we’re so excited to introduce y’all to this Georgia resident and her recipe for a Lemon Ice Box Pie topped with Meringue.

Tell us about this recipe.

I’m a huge fan of lemon-flavored everything. My guilty pleasure is any sort of lemon dessert, so as soon as the mercury starts to pass 60 on the thermometer, I know it’s the perfect time to make Lemon Ice Box Pie.

Traditionally, Lemon Ice Box Pie is served with a Chantilly cream, but I like topping mine with meringue since there are a lot of egg whites leftover from the yolk base of the filling. The end result is a perfect juxtaposition between thick and creamy and light and fluffy.

It’s a perfect spring dessert that will most likely not make it past the weekend!

How did you get your start in both blogging and baking?

Out of college (and to this day) I work in a finance-based corporate job, however, I’d always dreamed of working at a magazine and/or in the digital marketing space.

I started my blog as a way to enter the digital media world to build up my online presence enough to parlay that to opportunities for freelance writing and working with magazines. I’ve written a couple of articles for a local Atlanta publication and hope to be able to find new opportunities in the future with larger publications.

As for baking, I’ve been the designated dessert maker in my family for as long as I can remember. I have always found great comfort in experimenting with a recipe and seeing the delight those treats bring to my friends and family who enjoy it with me. So when I started blogging, it was natural to combine photojournalism with recipe creation on my own platform, Darling Down South.

Favorite “Southernism?”

“All hat, no cattle.” I know this is another iteration of “All bark, no bite,” but this version absolutely tickles me to tears every time I say it out loud!

What’s your favorite thing about living in Atlanta?

It gets better in so many ways every season! It’s like I’m constantly moving into a new city with all the exciting restaurants, hotels, bars, bakeries, and shops that keep coming into town!

Somehow we’ve been lucky to have some famed Charleston and Nashville expats (like O-Ku and Five Daughters Bakery) settle into town, which means I get to experience exciting restaurants without leaving the city.

Besides this pie, do you have a favorite or go-to dessert recipe?

Any sort of fresh berry hand pie. I always have a homemade all-butter pie crust wrapped up tight in my freezer that can be thawed in an instant to make a farmers’ market fresh berry hand pie.

Whatever berry is in season, I’ll typically macerate those with some sugar, citrus zest, and liqueur, wrap it in pie crust and then bake until browned for a quick dessert. Homemade vanilla bean whipped cream is a must when serving these as well. It’s a guaranteed crowd pleaser–even if the crowd is you and yourself!

Daring Down South Lemon Ice Box Pie topped with Meringue

Pie Crust Ingredients

14 graham crackers, crushed

1/4 cup granulated sugar

2/3 teaspoon cardamom

Pinch of salt

3 tablespoons butter, melted


Pie Filling Ingredients

2 (14 oz.) cans sweetened condensed milk

Zest of 2 lemons

1 ¼ cups lemon juice

8 large egg yolks

Meringue Ingredients

8 large egg whites

1/2 teaspoon vanilla bean paste

1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar

6 tablespoons granulated sugar

Directions for the Pie Crust

Preheat oven to 325 degree F.

Pulse the graham crackers in a food processor (or beat in a freezer bag with a rolling pin) with the salt, sugar and cardamom.

When you’ve reached coarse dust consistency, slowly incorporate butter until you’ve reached a consistency that when pressed together in your fingers still holds its shape.

Press the graham cracker mixture into a 9-inch pie plate, using a measuring cup to press the crust into the pan and up the sides. Once your crust is formed, set aside.

Directions for the Pie Filling

In a medium bowl, whisk the condensed milk with the lemon juice, then set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk the zest with the egg yolks until light and pale, about one minute. Then slowly whisk in the lemon juice and condensed milk mixture until combined.

Place the prepared pie crust on a rimmed baking sheet and pour the filling into the pie crust.

Place the pie in the oven and bake for 10 minutes while you prepare the meringue topping.

Directions for the Meringue topping

In a stand mixer or a hand held mixer, beat the egg whites, vanilla bean paste and cream of tartar on medium high speed until the eggs whites start foaming heavily, about 60-90 seconds.

Slowly add sugar in one tablespoon at a time over a 3 minute period giving the egg whites time to absorb the sugar and dissolve it as its incorporated. If you add the sugar too quickly the egg whites will deflate. Whip the eggs for 4-5 minutes or until stiff peaks are formed and the meringue is smooth and fluffy.

After the pie has been in the oven for 10 minutes, pull it out and quickly top it with the fresh meringue making sure to cover the entire pie filling and touch the edges of the graham crust to prevent shrinkage.

Bake for another 20 minutes or until the top of the meringue is lightly golden brown. If meringue is browning too quickly, cover loosely with a tent.

Let pie cool for at least two hours before cutting and serving. Serve room temperature or refrigerated.

Welcome to the Draper James blog. My little slice of space to share the things I love most about life: people, parties, food, and fun!  It’s everything Draper James  stands for. and I hope you like it. 

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