Saturday, February 28, 2015

Key Lime Pie: Never Order from a Restaurant Again

Also making the list of "Things I Thought Too Difficult To Make" was key lime pie. Why, I don't know considering it's one of the easiest desserts I have ever made, not to mention pretty cheap since there are only 5 ingredients counting the crust. If you want to impress someone with your culinary abilities, make this and let the compliments roll in!

Couple things: I juiced my own limes. It took a looong time. And my fingers were withered afterwards. But it wasn't that bad - kind of therapeutic actually. Where was I going with this? Oh yes, if you want to release the most juice from your limes (or any citrus), just nuke them in the microwave for a few seconds. Apparently you can buy a key lime concentrate and avoid the manual labor. I can't vouch for this, though and I often find that the bottled lemon/lime juices are overly acidic and have a weird aftertaste. Personally, I prefer to be old fashioned and squeeze them myself. Wrinkled fingers and all.

I used this recipe from Smitten Kitchen, except cut it in half to make 2 mini pies instead of one large one. Mainly because I had no idea what I'd do with a whole pie. Well, I know what I'd do with it and if I want to fit into my jeans, it's best for everyone if I just cut the recipe.

Don't skimp on the mixing and whipping instructions below. I think the key with this pie (hahaha, get it?), is that it's more the technical aspect that makes it special than the ingredients themselves. So get to beating. One final note, it's a good idea to make this the day before you're planning to serve since it's best chilled and needs to set completely.

Key Lime Pie

First, make a graham cracker crust by processing about 1 cup of graham crackers and adding 1/2 stick of melted butter. Mix together, pack into your pie tins (or tin if making a whole pie), and blind bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes. Blind baking means to bake with nothing in the pie. By doing this, you ensure your crust is nice and stiff so it can handle the pie filling without getting gloppy. Set aside to cool but leave the oven on.

In a bowl whip 2 egg yolks until pale and thick. This will take about 7 minutes.

Minute #2

Minute #7 (note how pale and thick the yolks have become)

Add half a can of condensed milk and whip another 3-5 minutes. Then add 1/3 cup key lime juice and mix to combine. You can also add a teaspoon of the zest from the limes, but I temporarily lost my mind and threw away the rinds without zesting them! The end product still tasted delicious.

Pour into your pie tins and bake another 10 minutes, but watch them so they just set. The tops shouldn't be brown at all so you might consider turning down the oven temp if your oven is hotter than normal.

The last thing you need to do is whip up some fresh whipped cream. My mom and I have our own special recipe: heavy whipping cream (make sure it's "heavy" otherwise the cream doesn't have enough body to whip up). Add a couple tablespoons of confectioner's sugar (not granulated, otherwise it'll be gritty) and 1/4 tsp almond extract. I am in love with almond extract - but don't add too much otherwise it'll overpower the cream and add a bitter taste. 
Taste to see if you need any more sugar, then plop over top of the pie and garnish with some zest. At least that's what I would have done in an alternate universe where I didn't pitch the rinds.

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