Thursday, July 15, 2010

Key Lime Pie? Yes, Please

Baking – and booze - bribery work wonders when you need to get things done around the house.

The Husband recruited his good friend Tom to swing on down to H’town over the weekend in the hopes of a much-needed assist during The Official Transfer of Furniture to Make Way for our Baby in his Nursery.

We coerced Tom into doing the job with the promise of homemade meatballs and gravy, cavatelli, garlic bread, salad, beer and the finishing touch – Key Lime Pie.

I know that last sentence is prompting several exclamations from you:

1. Whadda ya mean gravy? It’s sauce. - Listen, I’m not even getting into this debate because there is enough room in the world for the sauce people and the gravy people to co-mingle. Can’t we all just get along, or get over it?

2. Speaking of gravy, Miss Thang. Where the heck is the recipe? - Yeah. So, there are some recipes and secrets that will remain locked inside the Jersey Girl vault, and Mommom’s Meatballs and Gravy recipe is one of them. Sorry. You need to marry in or be born into the family.

3. Beer? With pasta? - I KNOW?!?!?!? (I’m shouting this at you in major Monica Gellar voice.) First of all, I’ve been off the vino for five months now due to my pregnant state of mind. I had half a glass over July Fourth weekend (don’t judge me.) So, our guest and major helper of the night grooves on beer and that’s what he got. The Husband also took part in this travesty of a food and beverage pairing. If you want more information, you need to talk to the Mens. I was merely an observer.

4. Key Lime Pie? In July? In New Jersey? In the land of blueberries during blueberry season? – Seriously peeps, I eat like a pint of blueberries a day. They are super yummy delicious, and I can’t control my cravings. That said, a change will do you good, and Key Lime Pie freakin’ rocks.

So, can we talk Key Lime Pie?

It is so cool and refreshing. Quite heavenly, actually. And this comes from a gal who believes dessert equates to chocolate.

I must admit my limes are not of the key variety. There are rare instances when I can find key limes in my sophisticated town of Hammonton, but this past weekend was not one of those times.

So regular old limes it is.

The recipe I use is from my girl Nigella Lawson. (Love her.) It is made in a springform pan, which is typically used for cheesecakes.

The crust is made of graham crackers and butter. Even the biggest dummy ever – or Top Chef contestant who fears making pies - could successfully make this pie crust.

The most grueling exercise in the recipe is beating the egg whites into soft, fluffy meringue submission. Sure, I could have used some electric beaters, but my pregnant bod needs as much exercise as it can get.

If you are not sure how to go about making meringue, I’m providing step-by-step photos to show you what the egg whites should look like at each stage of the game. And please make sure your bowl and beaters are super duper crazy clean. Leftover grease will not lead to successful egg-white beating.

Here’s the how-to on meringue:

Step 1: When you begin whisking vigorously, the egg whites
will froth up a bit.
Hang in there, you have a long way to go.

Step 2: After several minutes of whisking, your clear egg whites,
will start to turn opaque. You're getting close!

Step 3: Finally, your egg whites form gorgeous peaks of white cloudy goodness. Congratulations, you've reached your destination.

Here’s the (Key) Lime Pie recipe by Nigella Lawson. Please note I am writing it verbatim from her cookbook, “How to be a Domestic Goddess.” I will list my own notes at the end. And, although Nigella doesn't advise this, the Jersey Girl totally does: Key Lime Pie is brought to extraordinary levels with a dollop of homemade whipped cream. To make a batch: Chill a glass bowl and beaters from a hand mixer. When ready to serve the pie, pour 1 cup of heavy whipping cream into the bowl. Add 1 Tbsp. sugar and 1/4 tsp. vanilla extract. Beat away until you have whipped cream.

(Key) Lime Pie
From “How to be a Domestic Goddess”
By Nigella Lawson

For the crust:
¾ cup plus 2 Tbsp. or 7 ounces graham crackers
scant ¼ cup softened, unsalted butter
9-inch springform pan

For the filling:
5 large egg yolks
14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
Zest of 3 limes
½ cup plus 2 Tbsp. lime juice (of 4-5 limes)
3 large egg whites

Preheat the oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit and put in a baking sheet

Put the graham crackers and butter into the food processor and blitz till all’s reduced to oily crumbs. Press these into the pan, lining the bottom and going a little way up the sides, and chill while you get on with the rest.

You need an electric mixer for this. I always use my KitchenAid, but a hand-held one is fine. Beat the egg yolks until thick, add the can of condensed milk, grated zest and the lime juice. Whisk the egg whites separately until soft peaks form, then fold gently into the yolk mixture. Pour into the lined pan and cook for 25 minutes, when the filling should be firm. It may puff up and then, on cooling, fall, but that’s the deal.

Leave to cool on a rack before unmolding, and chill well.

Serves 6-8.

Please note: The Jersey Girl uses extra large eggs. For a better idea of the graham cracker measurement – one sleeve of graham cracker squares (not rectangular shape) equals about 8 ounces. You may need more than the recommended 4-5 limes for the amount of juice necessary for the recipe.


  1. I make key lime and lemon pie every summer, regardless of the countless amounts of blueberries in my fridge! :-)

    Now I need to make a blueberry pie this is that time again.

  2. I can say for sure that the entire meal was great!!!!!!

  3. Good to hear, kym.

    Thanks, Tom! Hope you and Sandra are doing well.