Saturday, October 4, 2014

Key Lime Pie

Preheat your oven to 325 degrees F., rack in the middle position. 
The Crust: 
Make your favorite graham cracker or cookie crumb crust (or buy one pre-made at the grocery store— I used a shortbread crust). 
The Filling: 
5 eggs 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk 
½ teaspoon lemon zest (optional) *** 
½ cup sour cream 
½ cup key lime juice **** 
¼ cup white (granulated) sugar 

Crack one whole egg into a medium-sized mixing bowl. 
Separate the remaining 4 eggs, placing the 4 yolks into the bowl with the whole egg and the 4 whites into another mixing bowl. 
Leave the bowl with the 4 whites on your counter. 
They need to warm a bit for the meringue you’ll make later. 
Whisk the whole egg and the egg yolks until they’re a uniform color. 
Stir in the can of sweetened condensed milk . 
Add the lemon zest, if you decided to use it, and the sour cream. 
Stir it all up and set the bowl aside. 
Juice the limes and measure out ½ cup of juice in a small bowl. 

**Hannah’s 1st Note: Key limes aren’t easy to juice. They’re very small and a regular lime juicer won’t work very well. I just roll them on my counter, pressing them down with my palm, until they’re a little soft. Then I cut them in half on a plate (so that I can save any juice that runs out), hold each half over a measuring cup, and squeeze them with my fingers . It’s a little messy, but it works. Add the ¼ cup sugar to the key lime juice and stir until the sugar has dissolved. Now add the sugared lime juice to the bowl with your egg mixture and whisk it in.

Pour the filling you just made into the graham cracker or cookie crust. 
Bake the pie at 325 degrees F. for 20 minutes . 
Take it out of the oven and set it on a rack to wait for its meringue. 
Instead, increase the oven temperature to 350 degrees F. to bake the meringue. 

The Meringue: 
(This is a whole lot easier with an electric mixer!) 
4 egg whites (the ones you saved) 
½ teaspoon cream of tartar 
a pinch of salt 
1/ 3 cup white (granulated) sugar 

Add the cream of tartar and salt to the bowl with your egg whites and mix them in. 
Beat the egg whites on HIGH until they form soft peaks. 
Continue to beat at high speed as you sprinkle in the sugar. 
When the egg whites form firm peaks, stop mixing and tip the bowl to test the meringue. 
If the egg whites don’t slide down the side, they’re ready. 
Spread the meringue over the filling with a clean spatula , sealing it to the edges of the crust. 
When the pie is covered with meringue, either “dot” it with the flat side of the spatula to make points in the meringue , OR smooth it out into a dome and make circular grooves with the tip of your spatula from the outside rim to the center, to create a flower-like design. 
Bake the pie at 350 degrees F. for an additional 12 minutes. 
Remove the pie from the oven, let it cool to room temperature on a wire rack, and then refrigerate it if you wish. 
This pie can be served at room temperature, or chilled. 
It will be easier to cut and serve if it’s chilled. (To keep your knife from sticking to the meringue when you cut the pie, dip the blade in cold water.) 

**Hannah’s 2nd Note: Key lime juice is a very pale green color, midway between green and yellow. The eggs and egg yolks added to the filling will color it more yellow than green. If you see a key lime pie that’s green inside, the baker added green food coloring.

Fluke, Joanne (2008-02-01). Key Lime Pie Murder (Hannah Swensen Mysteries) (pp. 99-102). Kensington Publishing Corp. Kindle Edition.

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