July 14, 2011

(Nearly) Instant Key Lime Pie

Limes on Granite (taken with Instagram)

I have always always loved Key Lime Pie, and have never dared to make it because I assumed it meant making some sort of custard (and I've never been good at a lime-based custard, though I whip out lemon curd with alarming frequency).  But it doesn't!  It uses sweetened condensed milk!  (Which makes sense, considering the necessity of shelf-stable products in the tropics.) Combined with a graham cracker crust, this really is the easiest pie you can make.  And so summery.

I took these photos with instagram, and it got me wondering why there aren't more recipe live-bloggers.  It was so fun photographing every step of the process--and I loved that even mistakes are recorded this way. Plus it pares down the recipe to the merest of essentials. If/when I get a smart phone (rather than borrowing my mom's spiffy iPod) you can bet you'll be seeing more of these visual recipes.

5 oz cookies (I did 1/3 TJs Graham Cracker and 2/3 TJs Ginger cookies)
1/4 cup unsalted butter
10-12 Key Limes, zested, with zest divided in half and set aside, and juiced
1 14oz can of sweetened condensed milk
2 large eggs

Preheat the oven to 350. Take cookies and half the key lime zest, and process till dust.

Add the butter (cut into chunks) and process till butter is well mixed and no large chunks remain (I had to finish it with my hands). It will look like streusel topping when finished. Press into a pie plate, and puncture with fork tines. Bake in the oven at 350 for 10 minutes.

While the crust is baking, juice the 10-12 limes, to get 3/4 cup juice.  Strain out any seeds (but pulp is good).  Aren't they pretty little things? When the pie shell is done, remove it and let it cool a little on the counter top while you finish the "custard."

After accidentally opening a can of dulce de leche, and indulging in a spoonful, whisk together the sweetened condensed milk with the lime juice, and eggs, and the second half of the lime zest.

Pour the filling into the slightly cooled shell, and return to the oven to bake for about 20 minutes--till the filling is set.  Because this isn't strictly speaking a custard, you don't have to cook it till you knife comes out clean, like you do with pumpkin pie.  Just cook till it slightly wobbles when you shake it (rather than looking all loosey goosey).

Let cool in the fridge for at least 2 hours.  Top with homemade whipped cream and a shave of chocolate, if you like (but, personally, I like mine unadorned).

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