(Yes yes, I know. It’s traditionally “Lemon Meringue Pie,” there is no need to correct me. Today, we embark on a little experimental journey : mixing lemon meringue and key lime pies TOGETHER to make an even more tart and delicious treat.)
A little backstory before diving into the challenge : my mom always makes key lime pie in the summer…and ever since the beginning, I’ve disliked it. (That’s right – thumbs down). In my household, key lime pie is made with a graham cracker crust, a tart but creamy filling, and a thick (EPAIS) layer of whipped cream on top. This is a combination that my dad, sister, and mother adore, as I have often watched them devour with gusto this dessert. In an effort not to sound TOO whiny (or picky), I would take a piece and simply scoop the whipped cream off, leaving it in a large, fluffy pile on the side of my plate.
As a result, when my mom announced this morning that we were having key lime pie for dessert…I was not thrilled. So we struck up a compromise that my dad (!) seemed keen on : NO WHIPPED CREAM. Turns out I wasn’t the only one disappointed by the excessive chantilly…and so began the fusion process.
The good news : IT WORKED AND WAS FANTASTIC.
The bad news : There is no bad news, aside from the fact that those who were hoping for whipped cream are, in fact, going to be let down by this post. My apologies in advance.
I took a traditional Key lime pie recipe and added more lime juice, more graham cracker, and topped it with the same meringue cloud as goes on a lemon meringue pie – it’s quite simple to make and renders this treat healthier (less fat !) and lighter on the stomach. The egg white cuts the tartness of the curd without overpowering (and muting…) your tastebuds with cream. Simple, quick, fresh, and pretty, this dessert is excellent update on a typical treat.
For the crust :
1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbles
5 tbsp melted butter
1/4 cup sugar
Preheat oven to 350F. Mix all ingredients together in a bowl with a spoon (or a folk).
The graham cracker crumbles should absorb the butter and together make a combination that is crumbly but malleable.
Pour this mixture into a buttered pie pan and, using the spoon, press firmly until evenly coated.
Place this in the oven for about 10 minutes – you’ll just start to smell the crust before it’s ready to be removed. Let cool.
For the pie :
3/4 cups key lime juice
3 egg yolks
1 14 oz can sweetened condensed milk (NOT EVAPORATED. DOUBLE-CHECK YOUR LABELS, FOLKS)
This is probably the easiest recipe ever. Put all ingredients in a large bowl and whisk together until smooth.
It will look rather like pudding or custard.
Pour the “batter” into the prepared pie pan and swirl with a spoon to evenly distribute. The filling will not rise (no leavening agent !) so fear not if you are close to overflowing. We had the opposite problem…as you can see.
Cook for about 20 minutes or until set. Many key lime pies don’t need to be cooked and are instead “refrigerator pies” but as we added egg yolks, the extra heat will allow those proteins to reform in a more solid position, making the pie more like a flan than a custard. Trust me, it’s a good choice. You should be able to touch the surface of the pie and have a little of the filling stick to your finger – nice and thick, but not totally solid.
Let cool slightly before covering again…with meringue.
For the meringue :
3 egg whites
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 tsp salt
Little note : when at school, I don’t have an electric mixer, so I am quite used to whipping by hand. Ergo, I whipped this meringue into a frenzy with my brute (ahem lacking) strength. For those who don’t want to exercise while cooking, use not a whisk but a mix master (Kitchenaid or the like). However, please know that it is entirely possible to do pretty much anything by hand.
Put the salt in a large mixing bowl, followed by the egg whites. You may also add cream of tartar (this stabilizes the egg white foam and helps you whip without fear of failure) but it is not necessary. Whip until soft peaks foam – just beyond the foamy stage, this moment is where you can lift the whisk out of the bowl and it will just keep a shape.
Add the sugar and whip without mercy. The mixture will change drastically, thickening and turning glossy. When your meringue looks like marshmallow fluff or Cool Whip, you are all set.
Plop the meringue on top of the pie and smooth with a spatula (or a spoon, for that matter), swirling towards the center. To make the little poofs (for lack of a better word…), press the meringue gently with the back of a spoon and then lift up quickly. Repeat until desired topography is achieved.
Put the pie BACK in the oven and cook until the meringue is nicely browned – like a toasted marshmallow. It doesn’t take long, so don’t leave the kitchen and watch Dr. Who because if you do so, the meringue will be in an unfortunate position…charred, I’d say.
In any case, we ate about 2/3 of the pie in one sitting…and there are only four of us…so it was quite fantastic (as I sit here devouring the final piece avec une vue de la mer et un sourire digne d’une personne fière de son travail…) 🙂
In any case, bon appétit !