23 April 2010

Key Lime Pie

A Story in Two Parts

Many of you know that I finished trying a child death case about two months ago. While I was still busy with case prep, one of the defense attorneys and I started talking about how happy we would be once the case was over. I promised to bake him a pie in celebration (well, I promised a cake; he said he’d prefer pie), and he requested key lime (ostensibly because I am Southern, but I think it’s because he wanted to passive-aggressively torture me by forcing me to juice and zest about 117 tiny little key limes). But I digress. He's since gotten another job, and today was his last day...so we had pie at my office to say goodbye.

I’ve never made a key lime pie before, so I couldn’t decide what recipe to use. I finally decided to make two different kinds.

PIE # 1:
1 9” graham cracker pie crust
1 14-oz. can sweetened condensed milk
3 egg yolks
½ cup key lime juice
zest of 2-3 key limes

Mix the ingredients together and dump them in the pie crust. Bake at 350 degrees for about 15 minutes.

Result: a very nice but intensely tart pie. If I had this to do over again, I’d have made the pie crust instead of using a ready-made one. Otherwise, the pie set up nicely and was very easy to slice. Also, it was SUPER easy to make.

PIE # 2:
1 9” graham cracker pie crust
3 egg yolks
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
3 tablespoons cornstarch
1/4 teaspoon salt
2 cups water
1 tablespoon butter
1/4 cup key lime juice
finely grated peel of 1 lime

In a saucepan over medium-low heat, combine the 1 cup sugar, flour, cornstarch and salt; gradually stir in the water. Cook, stirring constantly, until thickened. Gradually stir about 1/3 of the mixture into the beaten egg yolks; stir mixture into the remaining hot mixture in the pan. Continue cooking over low heat, stirring, two minutes. Stir in the butter, lime juice and peel and cool slightly. Pour into the baked pastry shell and cool.

This recipe told me to make meringue topping and then place the pie in the oven to brown. I didn’t make meringue, so I just put the pie in the oven for about 3 minutes. I’m not sure if I was supposed to do this or not, but I got worried that the eggs didn’t get cooked enough on top of the stove…so, a few minutes in the oven assuaged some of my fears of poisoning my office with salmonella.

Result: a pie that I think tastes better than the first one, but that didn’t set up so great and didn’t present as prettily. Again, not the biggest fan of the prefab crust, but whatever. I'll do better next time.

Note: I topped both pies with fresh whipped cream. To the heavy cream, I added a little bit of confectioner’s sugar and some almond extract. I used my stand mixer to whip it until it was fluffy and beautiful.

Note 2: I used a microplane zester. If you don't have one, go get one. Don't even attempt to zest these itty bitty suckers without it.

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