Thursday, March 19, 2009

122. Key Lime Pie (p. 766)

These days you can get just about any kind of produce at any time of year. There's no such thing as "strawberry season" or "peach season" any more. You can find these things in your local megamart just as easily in February as you could in August. But there are still a few things that really are "seasonal." One of those things is the key lime.

So when I happened to see key limes at the store a few weeks ago, I grabbed a few pounds and threw them in my shopping cart. I'd figure out what to do with them later. When I got home, I looked up "key lime" in The Book's index and I found this recipe for the classic Key Lime Pie, and I decided to make it because it looked easy, and it's always been a favorite of mine. (The other key lime recipe in The Book is for a Key Lime Cheesecake with Mango Ribbons. It looks delicious, but much more labor-intensive. I froze my leftover key lime juice, and I'll make the cheesecake just as soon as I get the chance.)

The first step in making this pie is to make the crust. It's just graham cracker crumbs, sugar and melted butter, stirred together, pressed into a buttered pie plate and baked for a little while. To make the crumbs, I took some graham crackers, put them in a large zip top bag and crushed them with a rolling pin. You could also do it in the food processor, but my way has no clean-up.

The filling is a can of sweetened condensed milk, egg yolks and a healthy amount of key lime juice. Just whisk it all together, bake for a while, and then chill for at least eight hours. The Book says that you can use bottled key lime juice, but I'm a purist ... I wouldn't have made this recipe unless I had real, fresh key limes. Juicing these limes is a bit of a project. They're tiny, so it takes a lot of them to get a little bit of juice. It took almost a whole pound of limes to get the six tablespoons of juice I needed for the pie. To finish off the pie, I whipped up some unsweetened heavy cream and spread it over the top of the pie.

This pie was excellent. It was fresh, sweet and nicely tart. The cream topping was just the right thing. The crust was crisp and buttery. And it was a good thing that it was so delicious, because I ate the whole thing by myself ... over the course of a week, but just the same, I suppose that's a lot of pie for one person to eat. It's one of the hazards of cooking on impulse. I made this pie because I happened to find an unusual ingredient at the store, but I didn't have any guests coming over for dinner, and I didn't have any place to bring my pie, so I ate it all myself.

Date Cooked: March 1, 2009
Degree of Difficulty: Easy
Rating: A-


Melissa Bach Palladino said...

You ate the WHOLE THING!?!? Ha! And you even admitted it.

The Key Lime Cheesecake is heavenly. And by the way, you can get more juice from limes by heating them in the microwave--30 seconds for a big on, so maybe 20 seconds for the key limes?

Liz C said...

It sounds so good... I may have to actually buy real key limes someday.