Sunday, March 05, 2006
Weekend Pie Blogging – Key Lime Pie
I'm scared to make my favorite foods.
What if I screw them up? Then I'll have to forever live with knowing that I can't make my own favorite foods. Or, worse yet, I'll have to try over and over until I get them right...thereby embarassing myself with/having to consume numerous inadequate versions of what ought to be perfection. With foods I don't care that much about, I try them once or twice and if they don't pan out, oh well! But the favorites...well, sometimes it's less scary to just refrain from potentially ruining the mystique.
Am I making sense?
I've never made lobster. I've never made gnocci. I've never made sushi, pear-and-gorgonzola ravioli, cinnamon rolls, baklava, or this particular warm goat cheese salad I have dreams about.
And, until yesterday, I'd never made Key Lime Pie.
The best Key Lime Pie I've ever had can be found in two places:
1) D&K's Beach Cafe in Grayton Beach, FL
2) 7A on 7th St. and Ave. A, New York, NY (open 24 hrs., a convenient half a block from my house. Their cuisine is nothing ot blog home about, but the pie is evidently supplied bi-weekly by an undisclosed neighbor from down the block.)
I'm a Key Lime Pie freak. I've tried all kinds before arriving at those two - the gelatinous kind, the green kind, the diner kind, the Persian lime kind, the faked-with-lemon-juice kind...
...but I've never made my own. I told myself that it was because key limes are hard to come across, especially north of the Mason-Dixon Line. So when I saw them at Whole Foods this weekend, I had no excuse. Weekend Pie Blogging coming up...limes right there on the shelf, so little and cute...
Key limes, also known as Mexican limes and West Indian Limes, are much smaller than regular limes (called Persian limes) and have higher acidity and a distinctive flavor. They're ping-pong-ball-sized, thin-skinned, and seedy. And now apparently available at Whole Foods. It took about 15 of them to make half a cup plus two tablespoons of juice (I imagine they're juicier in the summer, even if they are imported).
How to go about finding a good Key Lime Pie recipe? I'd had so many bad ones. Epicurious was no help - either they had some weird variation ("add almonds!") or the cooks bickered about the outcome ("not enough filling!" "too sweet!" "didn't firm up!"). I wondered and googled, googled and wondered, until I finally found the recipe of a good southerner who seemed to know his pie. I used the recipe from his site:
KEY LIME PIE
1 1/4 cup graham cracker crumbs
1/4 cup sugar
1/3 cup butter, melted and cooled
4 large egg yolks
1 (14 oz.) can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup key lime juice
Mix together crumbs, sugar and butter; press into bottom and sides of 9" pie pan and bake at 375 degrees for 6 to 8 minutes. Place on rack to cool.
Beat egg yolks until thick and light yellow. Add sweetened condensed milk. Stir in half of the juice until blended. Add remaining juice and blend in. Pour mixture into pie shell. Bake at 350 degrees for 12 to 15 minutes until set.
Let cool to room temperature; chill and serve, garnished with whipped cream.
How did it turn out? The suspense is killing you...
...it was pretty good...but let it be known that mine is not the idealized slice featured at the beginning of the post (see below). I still haven't mastered graham cracker crusts...any tips? Mine always crumble when I slice the pie. It was very tart (no added sugar, plus the limes are out of season), but I like it that way, and the whipped cream offset it nicely. It wasn't rubbery at all - which is great, a key lime pie should be creamy, and creamy alone - but it wasn't quite light enough...a little dense and thick. Didn't fill up much of the crust; somewhat flat. Should I have beat the yolks with a mixer? What gives?
So all in all, it was pretty good - Jeremy insists that he likes it better than 7A - but not the slice of heaven I was hoping for.
Now, the challenge: I'm on the hunt for the BEST KEY LIME PIE RECIPE. Who's got it? Bring it on. I want to make your pie!!!
Mine was pretty good, but I'm not sure how to improve it. That said, I'm (*sigh*) ready to try it again. Suggestions?