Monday, December 10, 2007
Key Lime Pie
Greg requested Key Lime Pie for his birthday which I felt good about making since it uses a graham cracker crust and not an evil pastry crust. Okay, actually I agreed to make the pie thinking I would have to make a pastry crust, therefore I was really relieved when I found a recipe for key lime pie in my America's Test Kitchen book and it called for a graham cracker crust.
A word about the America's Test Kitchen if you are not familiar with the books or the t.v. program. The show is on PBS (not sure if it's still on or not) and it approaches food and cooking from a very science-y perspective. In the books they look at what makes a recipe work and why. They experiment with regional variations, as well as simple equipment and ingredient variations to discover what makes the best recipe and then they explain what they did, why they did it and what the results were. It's not the first book we turn to for every night cooking, and I wasn't actually looking for a key lime pie recipe when I was flipping through it the other day -- I was just flipping through it because I haven't in a while and I wanted to refresh my gnat-like memory on what was in there.
I'm not going to go into all the details about the key lime pie recipe -- it goes on for several pages -- but a couple of things they found was that there was no discernible flavor difference between key limes and regular limes, so they recommend regular limes because they're bigger and easier to zest and juice. They also went into details about how and why the lime juice reacts with the sweetened condensed milk and various techniques for mixing the lime portions. All-in-all -- very cool books for anyone interested in the science of food.
I will also say (as I'm sure you can see from the picture) that I had a little fun with the whipped cream just because I now own the piping bags and tips and I could. (well, that and the ATK book said that you could either spread the whipped cream on top with a spatula or pipe it on to make it pretty -- I decided to try pretty.)
4 tsp grated zest plus 1/2 cup strained juice from 3 or 4 limes
4 large egg yolks
1 (14-oz) can sweetened condensed milk
Graham Cracker Crust:
11 full size graham crackers, processed to fine crumbs (1 1/4 cups)
3 tbsp granulated sugar
5 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
1 1/2 cups heavy cream, chilled
1 1/2 tbsp granulated sugar
For the filling: Whisk zest and yolks in medium bowl until tinted light green, about 2 minutes. Beat in milk then juice; set aside at room temp to thicken.
For the Crust: Preheat oven to 325. Mix crumbs and sugar in medium bowl. Add butter; stir with fork until well blended. Press crumbs evenly into a 9-inch pie pan. Refrigerate pie plate for 20 minutes to firm crumbs. Bake until lightly browned and fragrant, about 15 minutes. Transfer pan to wire rack; cool to room temp about 20 minutes.
Pour lime filling into crust; bake until center is set yet wiggly when jiggled, 15 to 17 minutes. Return pie to wire rack; cool to room temp. Refrigerate until well chilled, at least 3 hours.
For Whipped Cream: Combine heavy cream and sugar in the chilled bowl of an electric mixer and beat until firm peaks form. (okay -- the book goes into a lot of detail about why you chill the bowl and how to tell when firm peaks form -- I don't feel like typing all that so I leave you to your own devices to figure that out... I usually ask Chris when I'm in doubt....)
Use a spatula to spoon the whipped cream over top of the filling, or use a pastry bag to attempt a pretty whipped cream topping. :)