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My Grandmother’s orange cream ice box pie with NILLA Wafers crust is luscious, creamy, dreamy and no bake! It’s the perfect warm weather pie!
Grandma stood all of 5′ nothin but when it came to her cooking and baking, she was a giant in the kitchen! Grandma grew up in during The Great Depression where treats like this were almost non-existent. Having to help raise her siblings, Grandma learned the value of a hard day’s work. She learned that you didn’t need money, shiny things or fancy stuff to be happy. She learned to respect the ingredients and that with a few basic items you could create deliciousness. That mantra has stuck with me through out my entire life. She, along with my parents, taught me the value of a dollar and that quality ingredients matter.
So I’ve shared with all how much this amazing woman meant to me. She truly was my best friend and how I so wish she were still alive today to just see the woman I’ve become (because of her) and to have you all meet her. With her alternating pink and purple hair, Grandma was hip. The kids today thinking it’s new to dye their hair these radical colors. Please peeps, my Grandma did that for decades before you were even a twinkle in your grand pappy’s eye. LOL
So one of the things my Grandma always made was this Ice Box Pie. For one whole summer I went through a phase where all I wanted was sherbet and NILLA Wafers. I mean we’re talking that’s all I wanted. Now in my house we’d have it in the container of sherbet in the freezer and my stupid brothers would eat MY NILLA Wafers. But when I’d go to Grandma’s house the freezer didn’t have any sherbet containers; only this, this gorgeous pie. However she always, always had NILLA Wafers in her cupboards. And just like Grandma, I always have them in my cupboards thanks to my weekly shopping trip to Walmart. FYI… those Mini ones.. too cute for words!
Every Saturday morning I’d wake up, wander out in my bare feet to the kitchen, climb up on the chair and we’d have a cup of tea while we planned out our day. That afternoon, in the warmer months, meant we’d make a pie. Well that one summer, every Saturday we’d make this pie. I got the job of breaking up the wafers in a plastic bag with the rolling pin while she mixed up the filling. And while she wasn’t looking (or so I thought), I’d sneak a wafer or 7 out of the bag and stuff them into my mouth. I swear I looked like a chipmunk trying to store nuts for the winter!
This pie, as you can see below, is pretty simple to make. Just crush up the NILLA wafers and add some sugar and melted butter to it to help form the crust. Then for the filling just mix together the sherbet with the other items and pour it into the shell. The hardest part was waiting all day for it to freeze.
But waiting for the pie to freeze was honestly some of my most favorite Grandma memories. So when she would make this pie she was rather meticulous about how many wafers she used; always 65. Now the box holds about 80 or so which means 15 extra for snacking. Now I’m not sure if Grandma did some type of baking analysis and deemed that 65 was the spot-on number to make the perfect crust OR it was because she wanted a few leftover to snack on. However truth be told I’m glad she did as I always, always ‘stole’ a few while making the crust.
So as the pie was in the freezer, she’d make us a cup of tea and put the leftover wafers on one of her prettiest China plates. I’d set the table with fancy place mats, real cloth napkins and get out the ‘special’ tea cups and sugar bowl WITH CUBES OF SUGAR! Yes Grandma and I had tea time every Saturday afternoon. While I can’t recall any one specific discussion I can vividly remember us laughing til tears rolled down our cheeks, smiling til our faces hurt and dipping our wafers in our tea. It was our special time.
So when the folks from NILLA were looking for amazing pie crust recipes for these delicious wafers this pie immediately came to mind. Now I’ll be honest, I hadn’t ever made this on my own as it was Grandma’s pie. It was honestly hard for me to make it and not get sad because I miss her so deeply that I wasn’t quite ‘ready’ ya know? But if you knew my Grandma you knew she would have told me to get my butt in gear and share with the world; “give them joy Lori” as she would say.
As I stood in my kitchen I grabbed my notepad and just started writing down the recipe as, like most Grandma’s, she never wrote anything down. I knew this recipe like the back of my hand as we made it every weekend that one summer and then at least 2-3 times a month for years, yes, even in the winter.
It’s actually a fairly simple recipe – crust and the filling. The filling is even easier – just softened sherbet (which you can use any flavor), cream cheese (you need this to give it the firmness), whipped topping (as that helps give it the light and creamy texture), marshmallow fluff because it gave it that hint of sweetness and binder needed when it froze. Now I added the dash of orange extract but that’s just me. You can totally omit.
As I was making the pie I couldn’t help but smile. It just felt good to make this. I chose to make this in a springform pan where Grandma used a huge deep dish pie pan. You can go with whichever you have but depending on the size of your pan, you may have extra filling left over. Trust me this is AWESOME! Just pour the leftover filling in a freezer container and freeze. It makes some of the BEST ice cream dessert! Trust me on this!
Once I made this I actually let it set in the freezer over night (as I got busy with the house). When I took it out and unmolded it from the pan I could not stop smiling (and apparently snapping the 800 million pictures. I grabbed my knife, put it under the hot running water (dried it off) and then sliced the pie up. Since you’re cutting it with a warm knife, it cuts straight through. And what I love is that you get nice, clean lines!
After snapping the photos I put the rest of the pie back in the freezer and sat down to try this. What happened next literally had me sitting at the table with tears pouring down my cheeks. That first bite… that first bite it was as I was transported back into her kitchen table sitting across from her having this dessert. This was Grandma to me. It was like she was right there, smiling at me. She would be so proud of me, of this pie and she would be giving me that side eye grin as I stole a few wafers from the box while I made this. LOL
I hope you love this pie as much as I do. This pie is such a personal recipe to me as there are just so many memories associated with it. I hope this inspires you to create your own memories with your kids/grandkids like my Grandma did with me. And to help you out, here are some more NILLA Pies inspiration go here!Print
- 65 NILLA Wafers (almost a full box), reserve the rest of the box for topping
- 5 tablespoon butter, melted and unsalted
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 4 cups softened (but not melted!) orange sherbet
- 8 ounces cream cheese (not fat free), softened and at room temp
- 12 ounces whipped topping plus additional for serving
- 7 ounces marshmallow fluff
- 1 teaspoon orange extract (optional but it bumps up the orange flavor)
- Lightly spray a 12” non-stick springform pan; set aside. *See note 1 for a different pan sizes
- In a food processor pulse the NILLA Wafers until crumbs form *note, do not process to a powder. Add the crumbs to a bowl and add in the sugar mixing just until combined. Pour in the butter and mix with a fork coating all of the crumbs evenly.
- Pour the crumbs into the springform pan and using the bottom of a flat-bottomed glass (or a measuring cup) press the crumbs on the bottom and up the sides of the pan. *See note 2 as it’s important! Pop this into the freezer while you make the filling.
- In either, a standing mixer fitted with the paddle or in a large bowl (using electric beaters), add the cream cheese and beat until creamy. Add in the fluff and beat until combined. Fold in the whipped topping just to incorporate. Last, add in orange sherbet and extract. Fold in until smooth and creamy. If there are lumps (meaning your sherbet isn’t softened enough, you can use the mixture to just mix gently. You don’t want deflate the whipped topping.
- Remove the pie crust from the freezer and pour the mixture into it. Smooth the top and put the entire pie into the freezer, uncovered for at least 6 hours to overnight. After 6 hours double wrap the pie in plastic wrap – avoid pressing the plastic wrap down on top of the filling.
- When ready to serve, unwrap and let it set on the counter only for a few minutes. Remove it from the springform pan and cut with a warm knife (I just run mine under hot water for a minute, wipe it dry then slice).
- Top with additional whipped topping and a couple reserved NILLA Wafers.
- Store leftovers, covered in the freezer.
1. If you only have a 10” springform pan, you will have extra filling leftover (BONUS!). Just pour that into a freezer safe bowl (with lid). When frozen, scoop out for amazing orange cream “Ice cream”. If you only have a pie plate, make sure that you can freeze in it. A deep-dish pie pan is best but if you only have a 9” pie plate you will most definitely have extra filling – again BONUS!
2. It’s super important to compress the crumb mixture tightly on the bottom and the sides as this will prevent the crust from crumbling apart when cutting. Additionally you want to make sure that your crust is of even thickness. My crust went up to the top of my pan just about a 1/4” thickness.