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Lemon Ice Box Pie Cupcakes with Lavender Benne Seed Shortbread Crust

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Lemon ice box pie is the lemon version of key lime pie – with a small but important twist. On a hot, sticky Southern summer day, lemon ice box pie always beats out its key lime cousin because lemon ice box pie is served frozen!  I made my lemon ice box pie as jumbo cupcakes, ripe for sharing on the porch swing with a tall glass of sweet tea.

Rather than the traditional graham cracker crust, these lemon ice box pie cupcakes have a lavender benne seed shortbread crust.  The lavender is almost undetectable unless you are looking for it.  However, it adds a complex floral note that makes the cupcakes seem extra-special – even if you can’t put your finger on why.

I topped the lemon ice box pie cupcakes with the biggest blackberries that I’ve ever seen and some lemon basil picked right off of the plant.  Think of the top of your lemon ice box pie cupcakes as a palette.  There’s tons of room up there for whatever fresh fruit you can find!  If you are still looking for that perfect July 4th cupcake, lemon ice box cupcakes topped with red raspberries and blueberries would surely fit the bill. 

My favorite quote about these cupcakes came from my new friend, Amy, who said, “These are stooopid!”  You have to imagine her saying it with long Southern drawl on the “oooo” and you must realize that calling them “stooopid” was her utmost compliment!

Lemon Ice Box Pie Cupcake Recipe

Yield:  6 jumbo cupcakes (or 12 regular-sized cupcakes)

The Lavender Benne Shortbread Crust

  • 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1/4 cup lavender sugar (I recommend a lavender sugar that is not too intensely lavender-flavored.  I used the lavender sugar from The Charleston Spice Company.  You can use plain white sugar or any other flavored sugar that you like.)
  • 3 tablespoons benne (sesame) seeds
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking powder
  • 4 1/2 tablespoons cold, unsalted butter cut into small pieces
  1. In a medium-sized mixing bowl mix all ingredients except butter.
  2. Mix in butter until mixture resembles course sand. (I find it easiest to do this with my hands – plus I get to eat anything that sticks to my hands!)
  3. Press mixture into the bottom of six jumbo cupcake liners, making sure that it is somewhat evenly divided between them (no one will ever know if it’s not perfect, so don’t stress).
  4. Bake at 350 F for 15 minutes or until the crust is a light brown.

The Lemon Ice Box Pie

While the shortbread crust is my own recipe, the lemon ice box pie recipe is converted to cupcakes from Food and Wine.

  • 2 cans (14 oz each) sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 1/4 cup lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons lemon zest
  • 8 large egg yolks
  • Fresh berries for garnish (optional)
  • Lemon basil leaves for garnish (optional)
  1. In a medium-sized bowl, whisk the condensed milk with the lemon juice.
  2. In another medium-sized bowl, beat the lemon zest with the egg yolks until pale.
  3. Beat in the condensed milk mixture until smooth.
  4. Pour the filling into the prepared cupcake liners (if the crust is still hot, that’s fine – it doesn’t matter if it’s hot or cold).
  5. Bake at 350 F for 20 minutes or until the center jiggles slightly and the edges are set.
  6. Let cupcakes cool for 1 hour (until they come to room temperature).
  7. Loosely cover the cupcakes with plastic wrap and freeze for at least 6 hours.
  8. Top with fresh berries and lemon basil leaves just before serving.


Thank you to the city of Charleston, South Carolina for inspiring these cupcakes (for more on that, read my post all about the events leading up to baking these cupcakes), and thanks again to HomeAway for the opportunity to bake on the road!

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