Wednesday, February 4, 2015

"Key" Lime Pie

Captain's Log

So, it seems I've run out of savory dinner food items that I make well and haven't posted about already on this blog. I could do a roast chicken redux, since I've tweaked my recipe since the original post. I could also talk a little more about pulled pork because I've found an amazing new method which is simpler and more amazing than you can imagine. (Darn, the ideas start pouring in once I get going…!)

But when you get down to it, I've found myself with lots of free time, and thus the ability to indulge myself when I feel like a treat. This has led me to make homemade desserts more often, despite the fact that my fella is completely and totally content with store-bought ice cream. I think I'm averaging about one homemade dessert every ten days… for a Golden Globes party, I made chocolate chunk oatmeal cookies.  For a get-together with an old friend after that, I made mini cupcakes with my grandmother's chocolate icing. Last week it was Smitten Kitchen's Key Lime Pie, and oh boy, it's a goody.

Smitten Kitchen's writeup for the recipe describes it as a dietary salve of sorts for the wintertime blues. I agree with her! This pie is fresh, cool, tart, and refreshing. It tastes like summertime and is an instant mood booster. I didn't tweak the recipe or method at all, so you can always visit the source for the original recipe and you'd miss nothing but, you know, L Flava.

Here's the recipe, from Smitten Kitchen:

1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs (more on the quantity, below)
3T sugar
two pinches salt
7T melted unsalted butter
1 1/2T lime zest
3 large egg yolks
14oz can sweetened condensed milk
2/3 cup fresh squeezed lime juice (4 standard limes, or a dozen key limes)

If you're into whipped cream for the top, get some cream and whip it.

Preheat the oven to 350°. First, make the graham crumbs. I got a food processor as a wedding present and honestly, before I had it, I really struggled any time a recipe said to "make crumbs." Sure, you can put them in a ziploc bag and whack 'em with a rolling pin, but the shards tear the plastic! And it's nearly impossible to get evenly-sized crumbs! Right? Does anyone else struggle with this? Anyway I've moved past you plebes now that I have my own whirly-gig machine to do all this for me.

In a more helpful vein: What do people even mean when they say "X number of cups of crumbs?" How do you know how many crackers to start with? And what defines a "graham cracker" anyway since they come in those perforated sheets? The Smitten Kitchen recipe says 1 1/2 cups AKA 155g. I used my kitchen scale to measure it out, and now I have all the answers for you. Are you ready?

1 1/2 cups of graham cracker crumbs is equivalent to ONE PACKAGE OF CRACKERS
Don't want to open a whole package just to remove one sheet of crackers? That's okay. Don't do it. No one will notice if you used 153g of crumbs rather than 155g. 

Next, using whatever methods you have available, make the crackers into crumbs and mix with salt, sugar, and melted butter. If you're cutting back on anything for dietary reasons, this is an easy place… I definitely felt that 1T sugar would be just as good as 3T, and the salt… eh, skip it, if you want. I do not advise cutting back on the butter because a dry crumbly pie crust is nobody's friend.
Then press the crust into your pie pan using your fingers or a measuring cup or both.
In retrospect: fingers would definitely have been better. Using the above method, the bottom of my pie was quite shallow, and the sides were, no joke, at least .5", maybe thicker.
A little crumbly on the edges. Less than ideal! Fewer grahams next time?
Bake the crust at 350° for 10 mins, until it's a little golden. Take it out after 10 mins, leave the oven on. While the crust is baking…
Beat three large egg yolks with 1 1/2T lime zest. (For me, this was the zest of TWO STANDARD LIMES.) We have friends with a little farm and their own chickens… they give us eggs sometimes, which are totally beautiful and amazing, and the yolks are straight-up sunny deep sunset orange. Beat the yolks and zest until they're light, thick, ribbon-y. 
This would go better with a hand mixer. I actually had to hand-beat these a little in order to give them enough volume for my mixer to catch. Also: use the whisk attachment, dummy.
When the yolks are light in color and thick, add the sweetened condensed milk and beat again until fluffy and light.. again.
So yellow!
While it beats, juice the limes. For me, 4 limes was just over 2/3c juice, so I left about 1/3 of a lime for another use.
Juicing the limes burned the bleep outta my hands
Then add the juice to the filling, mix well, and you're done! Smitten Kitchen warned that this is a VERY ZIPPY recipe, so I preemptively added about 1T sugar and mixed it in well…. just in case it was too sour. It's your call. I like sour things and I definitely felt the added sugar was helpful.

Pour the filling into the crust…
And bake for ten minutes, until set but not browned. While it bakes, take a picture of your sleeping kitties:
"Turn the heat up, we're fre- zzzzzzzz"
Now, I love those farm eggs. Love 'em. But a dijon-yellow lime pie was a little weird. "Refreshing" so often translates into bluish tones of white and green, right? Alas, what you see above is what happened without the use of any dyes or preservatives, so, like, that's good.

Let the pie cool completely before serving. Really! It'll slice much better. Mine was a little bit soft-set, so I think it could have baked for maybe 12 mins instead of 10. Either way, it was awesome.
This may or may not be Cool Whip
I highly recommend this pie. I think it'd be great in mini-form, using a mini cupcake pan. And honestly, it was just making crumbs, mixing, pressing, zesting, juicing, whipping. That sounds like a lot but my point is that this truly was an easy pie to make. Very few ingredients. Very simple instructions. Not too much measuring. Try it!

1 comment:

  1. There is nothing on earth like a real graham cracker crust!