Sunday, August 7, 2011

Key Lime Pie: When It's Too Hot To Turn On The Oven, But You Need Dessert

So, I'm going to a dinner party tonight, and was asked to bring dessert. It's hotter than fuck out there, and sticky, and gross, and I really don't want to turn on the oven. The last time I supped with this group, I also brought dessert, and that, friends, was my near-famous strawberry shortcake with thyme and balsamic vinegar. Mmm. Mmm, yes, but it ruled out another shortcake option (which, face it, is one of the best options in this nasty-assed weather).

So, what to do? By the time I thought of a puff pastry tart, it was too late to buy and defrost puff pastry. (Note to self: buy puff pastry, put in freezer for just such an occasion.) (Additional note to self: you're 39 years old -- shouldn't you be able to type "occasion" properly the first time 'round?)

Long story short (too late), it came down to a chocolate ganache pie (only heat required: microwave for melting chocolate and butter, as long as you use a pre-done crumb crust), or the ultimate in no-bake goodness: Key Lime Pie.

And Key Lime Pie won the day. 2 crumb crusts, 4 egg yolks, 2 cans sweetened condensed milk, and a scant cup of key lime juice. Plus obscene amounts of whisking. No, really. Right now, I'm sitting barely clad right under the a/c because I'm sweating like a pig would sweat if a pig could sweat which they can't. I'm just saying. If offered a wallow, I'd consider saying "yes."

Anywho. I now have two pies setting up in the fridge. I'm not going to top it off with meringue, because, again, see the "no oven, damn it" stance of hot weather cookery. I will likely pick up some whipping cream on the way to the dinner, just because there's extra head room on the pies, and I like a pie that looks ample, not accommodating.

You're thinking to yourself at this point "Um....are those egg yolks raw?" Well...only as raw as the scallops in your ceviche are raw. The acid in the lime juice denatures the proteins in the eggs, "cooking" 'em. If you've a compromised immune system, you might want to shy away from this, but if you're okay with sushi or ceviche or delicious unpasteurized cheeses, you should be fine with this authentic tasty pie.

Scaled down version of the recipe (for those rare occasions where one pie is deemed enough):
Key Lime Pie
Based on bits and pieces of far too many recipes

2 egg yolks
1 14-oz can of sweetened condensed milk
1/4-1/2 cup key lime juice
1 9" graham cracker crumb crust pie shell

If you have a hand mixer, this'd be a good time to use it. Otherwise, this is a good recipe to work out your whisking arms. Whisk the egg yolks until they are very, very pale yellow and frothy. Add in the sweetened condensed milk, and whisk, whisk, whisk, whisk. You want to keep whisking until it is getting noticeably thickened -- when you pick the whisk up out of the goo, it should come off the whisk in sheets, not in drips. So, whisk some more. If you're using electrics, this'll be at about the 4 minute mark. If you're going by hand, it'll be longer. Whisk away, baby. On a really hot day, you might want to make sure you're sitting under an air conditioner, so you can stay cool.

Once your goo is thick, add in 1/4 cup of key lime juice (preferably fresh, but if your choice is between fresh NON-key limes or bottled key lime juice, go for the bottled). Stir, stir, stir until it's well incorporated. Then, dip your very clean pinky tip into the goo, and taste. Is it tart enough? Is it lime-y enough? If not, add more lime juice, up to another 1/4 cup (so, up to 1/2 cup total. No more, or I won't vouch for the setting-up-ability of the pie).

Pour into a prepared crumb crust, scraping all the gooey goodness out of the bowl and into the pie. Place gently in your fridge, and let it sit there for a good 4 hours before serving.

Garnishing options:
  • grated fresh lime zest
  • candied lime peel
  • fresh lime wheels
  • little dabs of whipped cream
  • great big globs of whipped cream
  • more Cool Whip than might strictly be considered healthy
  • meringue made from those 2 egg whites you have left over from separating out your yolks for this recipe (note: this would require turning on the oven)
You could use a ginger snap crust, if you want a ginger-lime pie. You could use a chocolate crumb crust for a black-bottom key lime pie. You could do away with crust completely and just let the goo set up in wee ramekins or custard dishes. I won't judge.

One more variation, for the booze hounds out there--and I know you're there--use 1/4 cup key lime juice, and 1/8-1/4 cup tequila. Voila, you've got a margarita pie!

1 comment:

  1. If your no-bake, egg-containing pie isn't setting up, odds are you're having a whipping problem. Really whisk those yolks. If you've a recipe with egg whites folded in, whisk the hell out of those whites. Folding in whipping cream? Make sure you've whipped it until it's stiff.

    Make the proteins whimper.