Currently, I have two finals to write and a French essay I should do. Its my last finals week ever and all I want to do is bake. Also I want to watch all of Hemlock Grove, the new Netflix series by Eli Roth of Hostel fame. I’m now 5 episodes in, completely confused, alternately terrified and amused. The acting is quite bad, the writing is terrible (example: “I don’t have a recall” Don’t you mean recollection Eli Roth??), and its a horror series, not my favorite type.
Maybe I watch it because there’s a Skarsgard in the show. The youngest Skarsgaard. Bill Skarsgaard. His brother plays evil Erik in True Blood. His father (Stellen Skarsgard) is just a famous actor for a lot of roles. The youngest Skarsgard looks like a heroin addict (but a beautiful one) and plays someone slightly evil and completely sex obsessed, although it seems he really just likes blood? I’m not sure. But he’s very pretty.
Hemlock Grove provides one distraction, baking and cleaning provide another. Papers? Those things suck.
While shopping for regular limes to celebrate the holiday that happened on Sunday (props to anyone if they know the actual reason we celebrate Cinco de Mayo), I happened to notice some key limes. They appeared to be tiny little baby limes, completely adorable, like little green aliens. Of course, I could not resist.
And now, I must do something with them. I could be creative, I could find something that’s not pie, but this is my first time using key limes, and I’m going to go traditional. I’m staying in the box. I don’t want to confuse people like Eli Roth.
Plus, the guys at the liquor store told me not to drink tequila shots with key limes. So that’s out.
I decided to use Rose Levy Berenbaum’s key lime pie recipe. She’s the queen of all baking. I knew the pie would be perfect.
I did run into some difficulties, like the local grocery store carries key limes but not graham crackers… So I made a digestive biscuit crust. But seriously Baltimore? Is there a larger market for digestive biscuits than graham crackers here? How?
And then I decided that a digestive biscuit crust would require less butter (wrong decision Eliza), so my crust is a bit shaky. But the filling? Its perfect. The merengue? Beautiful. I might not be able to slice a perfect slice of pie and take a photo of it, but this is mainly because if I kept trying to get a perfect slice, I would eat the whole pie in the process, its just that good. So if you happen to see some key limes sitting next to the digestive biscuits in your nearest grocery store, I highly suggest making this.
Rose Levy Berenbaum’s Key Lime Pie
Adapted from “The Pie and Pastry Bible”
Makes one 9 inch pie
For the crust:
6.5 ounces (1 package, about 11 crackers) graham crackers (or 6.5 ounces digestive biscuits, slightly saltier, slightly better)
2.5 ounces (5 tablespoons) butter
2 tablespoons sugar
Preheat the oven to 350˚F
Place the cookies in a freezer bag and beat them with a rolling pin until they are fine crumbs. Toss in the sugar, and then the melted butter.
Alternatively, place the cookies with the sugar in the bowl of a food processor and pulse for 20 seconds. Then add in the butter and pulse for another ten.
Using a spoon, press the mixture into the bottom of the pie plate, and partway up on the sides. Then use a flat bottomed or straight sided glass to press the crust down evenly and all the way up the sides.
Bake for 6 minutes, to give it some color.
For the filling:
4 eggs, separated
1 can sweetened condensed milk
1 1/2 teaspoons key lime zest
3/4 cup key lime juice (from about a pound and a half of key limes)
1/2 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
Keep the oven at 350
Whisk together the egg yolks and the condensed milk. Gradually beat in the lime juice (I did it all at once and it worked fine, although probably best to listen to Ms. Levy Berenbaum). Whisk in the zest. Set aside.
In the bowl of a stand mixer, or a large bowl with a hand mixer, beat the egg whites until foamy. Add in the cream of tarter and beat until stiff peaks form. Set aside.
Place the sugar and 2 tablespoons of water in a small heavy bottomed saucepan. Turn the heat up to high, cover, and watch until it boils. Once the sugar is boiling, remove the cover, and turn the heat down to low. If you have a candy thermometer, cook until it reaches 248˚F, soft ball stage. I did not have a candy thermometer, so I just let it simmer for a couple of minutes, and then using a fork, tested to see if the sugar was at soft ball stage. To do this, take a bit of the sugar mixture on your fork, and place it on a heat resistant countertop. Let it cool for a couple seconds. If it is a pliable ball, then congratulations, the mixture is at soft ball stage. If its hard, then you have cooked it too long and must start over.
With the mixer running on slow speed, slowly pour in the sugar mixture. Keep beating the whites until the outside of the bowl is no longer hot to the touch.
Remove a scant two cups of the merengue mixture and fold it into the yolk mixture. Cover the rest of the merengue and set aside. Place the yolk merengue mixture into the prepared crust. Bake at 350˚ for 15 minutes. Remove, and starting with the outsides of the pie, began putting the merengue on top of the tart. Make sure to cover everything. Or decorate it. As you please.
Bake for another 5 minutes in the oven, then turn on the broiler and broil for 20 seconds to one minute, making sure not to burn the merengue.
Let cool for 30 minutes or so, then place in the refrigerator for at least 4 hours before slicing. Keeps for three days in the fridge.