Thursday, July 29, 2010

Two-Layer Key Lime Pie


This is the pie you need in your refrigerator this summer. A slice of this is kind of like jumping into a cold swimming pool. The freshness is immediate and it engulfs you. It takes your breath away. This recipe calls for  a lot of limes. A total of nearly a cup of lime juice. I think I used about 7-8 limes which would have been a small fortune in produce, had I not seen them for something like 2 dollars a dozen at a local flea market. I snapped them up with this exact pie in mind.

The inspiration for Key Lime Pie came from a visit to Chicago in May. We were there to visit one of my brothers and his family one last time before they moved to Boston. One night he had a craving for key lime pie. I didn't know this about him. It's kind of a funny feeling, discovering something about a family member. It's like you're meeting them for the first time. This was never a dessert that my mom made, so he must have developed a taste for it later in life. That's one of the weird things about living so far away from my family--so far away from my siblings, in particular. We grew up together, but spent our adult lives far apart; still close in spirit, but I miss knowing little things like brother loves key lime pie. And now, so do I.


This is another new recipe for me. Again, it's from Bon Appetit, the R.S.V.P. section, which I've noticed, many of these post recipes have come from. This is the part of the magazine where they publish recipes from restaurants requested by readers. I don't know what that says about me. Am I the kind of person who wants to have what someone else has? Am I the kind of cook who aspires to cook restaurant food? Maybe. All I know is that some recipes call to me louder than others. I can taste them in my mind and I just KNOW that the result will be amazing. Sometimes they meet my expectations, and sometimes they don't, but fortunately for us, this was one of those times when my imagination and expectation were both satisfied.

One of the unique things about this pie is the crust; it is a graham cracker crust with crushed granola mixed in with melted butter. It's not fancy schmancy granola. Just plain jane sweet oats hiding in the cereal aisle. It's so good in this. It's a nuttier taste than the cracker crumbs would be by themselves and it gives the crust more texture, which, you should know by now, is one of my things.  


The other part of this pie that makes it unique is the layering. It has a lime baked custard layer, and then it's topped with a lime cream cheese layer, and as heavy and cloying as that might sound to you (but then to me, it sounds like heaven) believe me when I tell you this is the lightest, most refreshing cream pie I have ever eaten. You remember at the beginning of this story when I told you how you need this pie? You need this because it tastes like paradise, for starters. But you also need this pie because it's a dessert that spends minimal time in the oven, most of the time in the refrigerator, and not nearly enough time on your tongue. It could be my favorite summer far, anyway.


Two-Layer Key Lime Pie
from Bon Appetit
Serves 8

A small note about assembling the pie. I piped the whipped cream around the edge because I thought it would look pretty and also, the recipe instructs you to do this. You could also pipe/spread the cream over the whole surface of the pie; this would slightly mellow the citrus punch this pie hides behind it's sweet, demure appearance.

3/4 c. granola (with no raisins or other dried fruit)
3/4 c. graham cracker crumbs (from about 6 whole graham crackers)
1/2 stick unsalted butter, melted
3 T. sugar

Baked Layer:
1 14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 c. Key lime juice or lime juice
3 large egg yolks

Chilled Layer:
8 oz. package cream cheese, room temperature
1/2 c. sweetened condensed milk
1/4 c. Key lime juice or lime juice
2 T. sugar
1 t. vanilla extract

Sweetened whipped cream

For crust: Pre-heat oven to 340 degrees. Using on/off turns, blend granola in processor until coarsely ground. Transfer granola to medium bowl. Mix in graham cracker crumbs, melted butter, and sugar. Press crumb mixture over bottom and up sides of 9" deep-dish glass pie dish. Bake until crust is golden brown, about 8 minutes. Reduce oven temperature to 300 degrees. Remove crust from oven and cool completely.
For baked layer: Whisk condensed milk, lime juice, and egg yolks in medium bowl to blend. Pour into pie crust. Bake until custard is set, about 25 minutes. Cool to room temperature.
For chilled layer: Using electric mixer, beat cream cheese, condensed milk, lime juice, sugar and vanilla in large bowl. Pour over cooled baked layer, smooth top. Cover and chill until firm, at least 4 hours. (Can be made 1 day ahead. Keep refrigerated.) Pipe sweetened whipped cream decoratively around edge of pie. Cut into wedges and serve.

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