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#3: Key Lime (Curd) with Traditional Crust

(Not "scrambling" to make a second key lime pie for variety)

Is it cheating for the third pie to be key lime again? Well, I still had some key lime juice left, and as I have been saying, "My rules." I thought it would be interesting to make this pie with lime curd rather than the typical sweetened condensed milk, and try the two pies side by side...and it made sense to use the all-butter pie dough I still had waiting in the refrigerator. So...maybe cheating, a little? Sue me! (I still have 57 more pies to go!)

Have I learned?

This time I decided to skip the food coloring which did make the second pie a rather odd shade of green. (Do I promise never to use food coloring again? Nope.)

The recipe was still very easy - add butter and sugar to the fresh lime juice, again with some grated zest added for extra lime flavor, and cook gently over low heat until the butter is all melted. Don't let this boil! (By the way I had lots of juice so I tripled the recipe to make a generous amount of curd.) Then whisk just a bit of the hot liquid into a bowl with eggs and a few yolks. Pour slowly and carefully while whisking (you can't tell but my right hand is holding a whisk) to avoid scrambling the eggs.

Then pour this egg mixture back into the pot and set back on the heat. Cook slowly until the curd has thickened and coats the back of a wooden spoon. (This is the fun part; you get to swipe your finger across the spoon to see if it leaves a stripe and then, what is there to do but taste the curd to make sure it has enough lime flavor?)

Pour through a strainer into a container ( I usually use a one-quart glass measuring cup as it pours out easily once chilled) and refrigerate at least a couple hours until cold and thickened. Make sure you put some wax paper on the top of the curd to prevent a skin forming on the top. While it was chilling I rolled out the pie dough and put it in a buttered pie pan. I pre-baked the crust until golden brown (see these instructions).

I poured the chilled curd (lots of it!) into the crust and baked it at 350 degrees. While the recipe listed the cooking time as 12 minutes, our oven tends to underbake and I had tripled the curd; so it took twice that time before it had solidified enough. After letting it cool a bit I covered the pie with wax paper and chilled it in the fridge for several hours.

The Verdict: Star Baker or Leaving the Tent?

This pie is Star Baker for sure. Jeff loved the tart flavor of the curd, and as you can see I had to do a side-by-side comparison. I still liked the aggressively green pie #2, but I did prefer the tart zing of the lime in the third pie that was not "adulterated" by the sweetness of the condensed milk. And, while a graham cracker crust is traditional here, I have to say I probably prefer the butter crust. Jeff clearly likes pie #3 better, and he asked me which I liked. "Both," was my answer.

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