#2: Key Lime with Graham Cracker Crust
AKA "What have you done?" from Jeff
For the second pie I had planned to try something savory and had a perfect recipe...but the vegetables in that pie aren't in season and it seemed prudent to wait and use fresh local veggies...so perhaps late this summer.
Bottled or fresh?
Somehow I had gotten an odd bottle of Natalie's Lime Juice. I'm not really sure where it came from - given to me by someone? Anyway, I kept eyeing it, thinking about lime ice cream when the thought of a lime pie occurred to me. Seemed brilliant, and easy, until I remembered that a few key lime pie recipes I have read specifically state that fresh juice is much better in a pie than bottled juice.
Happily, I had decided to finally clean out the basement freezer that morning (a scary chore), and there, among all the containers of frozen chicken and shrimp stocks, and the many bags of fruit just aching to be popped into a pie (more about those in a future post), were two small containers of key lime juice I had made myself! At some point last year there I was, squeezing all those tiny little key limes with our juicer only to realize I had bought way too many key limes (who, me?) for one pie. I'm pretty sure I made a pie then and froze the rest, so a quick visit to the microwave and the homemade juice and I were ready to go.
Though in the past I have made a lime curd for the filling, I decided to go for the traditional method adding lime juice to sweetened condensed milk, in a graham cracker crust. I was a little stumped by the recipe in the America's Test Kitchen Perfect Pie cookbook which stated that Keebler's grahams were the best-tasting option following immediately by the warning to never use store-bought graham crackers for a crust as they would taste stale. ("What?" I thought, "I'm supposed to go visit the Keebler elves in person to get graham crackers?") I had some Honey Maid Graham Crackers from a previous cheesecake and decided they were still fresh and were fine for this purpose.
The recipe was very easy - add the condensed milk to egg yolks and the fresh lime juice (with some grated zest added for extra oomph.) I set that aside and let the filling set while I made the crust of non-elf-made graham crackers and melted butter.
Of course, me being me, I could not follow Jeff's motto of "Less is more." (My motto, after all these years, still seems to be, "More is never enough.") When mixing the filling, I just may have added a few drops of green food coloring for a little brightness. When the pie was out of the oven, Jeff took one look and hollered, "What happened to this pie?" He was not pleased. I pointed out it's my pie and I wanted something different...to which he muttered, "It's different, all right." Looks like I may have to eat the entire pie by myself this time around. (Hmmmm...I wonder how many times this trick will work...?)
The Verdict: Star Baker or Leaving the Tent?
This one is a tricky one to call; I liked it and Jeff did not. In addition to the aggressive green color, Jeff definitely prefers a lime curd, thinking that the condensed milk adds a somewhat artificial sweetness to the filling. I suppose this is similar to a contestant on the Great British Baking Show doing terribly and yet moving on to the next round only because another baker fared even more badly.
I'm certainly happy to eat this one by myself and, with extra thawed lime juice in the fridge, may just make a second key lime pie with a curd filling and traditional crust (I still have dough for a second crust from the pecan pie, waiting to be used up.) Perhaps a side-by-side comparison will convince me that Jeff is right, and a key lime pie made with curd filling has a taste superior to sweetened condensed milk? Keep an eye out for pie #3 for the answer!