Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Mar-a-Lago Key Lime Pie

Donald Trump has a club in Palm Beach, Florida called Mar-a-Lago.  This key lime pie is the club's most requested dessert.  It was recently celebrated on Oprah and ended up on her website, which is where I found the recipe.  Key lime pies evoke feelings of warmth, summer, and Florida, so they can be nice in the middle of a dreary winter when you need a bright, tart little pie in your life. 

As it turns out, key lime pie is pretty easy to make, especially if you just use regular limes (not those tiny, labor intensive key limes).  It cuts down on the time it takes to juice 2/3 cup of lime juice and I've heard that you can't really taste the difference in the limes in the finished product.  I ended up needing about 5 juicy limes.  I always pick fruits that seem to be heavy for their size as this seems to indicate an extra juicy fruit.

To make the pie, you first have to make a graham cracker crust.  This is done by mixing 3/4 pound graham cracker crumbs (which can be bought or made by mashing and grinding graham crackers with the end of a drinking glass) with 4 tbsp. sugar, 1/4 tsp. salt, and two sticks of butter.  I must caution you that 2 sticks of butter ended up to be excessive, at least for me when I was making the recipe; I'd add the butter bit by bit and stop when you've added enough butter for the crumbs to just stick together.  Otherwise the excess butter will prevent a crisp crust.  After pressing the crumbs into the bottom and sides of a pie or tart pan, you bake the crust in a low oven (325 degrees) for ten minutes.

While the crust is baking you can whip together the filling.  The filling is simply 4 egg yolks, 14 oz. sweetened condensed milk, 2/3 cup lime juice, and the zest of a lime.  First you beat the egg yolks and zest with an electric mixer for five minutes until they're fluffy, then you beat in the condensed milk, and then finally, slowly, the juice.  Pour into the baked pie shell, and bake for 15 minutes until done.

After the pie had cooled, it was really pretty to sprinkle some additional lime zest on top.  I opted not to make the vanilla whipped cream contained in the recipe; for me, whipped cream distracts from the tart pleasure of desserts like this.

I loved a couple of things about this pie.  First, I loved the crust.  I usually avoid graham cracker crust desserts precisely because of the thin, overly crisp, preservative laden taste of commercially produced graham cracker crusts.  This crust was fresh, slightly sweet, a little salty, and rich with the flavor of butter.  It was able to form a thick, perfect bed for the tart custard.  The custard was also everything I'd dreamed it would be--it had a smooth, light, sparkling lime flavor.


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