I originally planned on posting this a couple of days ago, but we went for a mini 2 night vacation. During those 2 nights, I tried a piece of Junior’s Carrot Cake Cheesecake, which was yummy except when I went back to our hotel room, I found more interesting cheesecake combinations with some baked snacks I brought along with me. I just might have to experiment with them at home and put up a recipe. 🙂
On Sunday it was a beautiful day out (as in it reached 50 degrees), so my boyfriend and I went to the library and picked up some great reads; ‘Baking With Julia’ by Doria Greenspan; ‘A Baker’s Odyssey’ by Greg Patent; Ratio: The Simple Codes Behind the Craft of Everyday Cooking’ by Michael Ruhlman (thanks to the recommendation by Gluten Free Girl; , ‘Baking Illustrated’, and ‘The Little Irish Baking Book’ by Ruth Isabel Ross. I had all of those on my list of things to check out and we (ok mostly Manuel) found them within the 10 minutes we had before they closed. My boyfriend says I’m a book hoarder because I take out so many at a time and never like returning them, whether I read them or not. Although, I have not let these books sit since I walked out of the doors with them in my arms.
We made a few stops after the library. First we stopped off at an Italian bakery because I was suddenly fiending for a cannoli. That is normal behavior for me. I bought one regular cannoli and one chocolate covered cannoli. I like alternating bites between the two. As much as chocolate covered anything sounds better than not-chocolate-covered anything, I actually prefer the regular traditional cannoli. For some reason, even though I have had these cannolis on several occasions, this is the first time I noticed an orange flavor in the filling. I’m not sure I’m all that into it either…what about you? Do you like your cannoli simple, or do you like them covered in chocolate, dusted with powdered sugar, and dunked in miniature chocolate chips on both sides? I’m curious where other people stand on this.
We stopped off at a Latin specialty market too, and I picked up some guava paste (I’m thinking of making something with guava and cream cheese for his family since his dad especially is fond of guava). I also got some passion fruit jam and two cans of coconut milk…yes, I didn’t buy anything there I can’t get at a regular store in the foreign food section (except the Goya Passion Fruit Jam….they only had Guava flavor at the supermarket), but it was cheaper. When we went to the grocery store after that so I could pick up more ingredients that I needed to bake, I sat in the car for well over 30 minutes just looking at recipes and deciding what that was going to be. I wanted to make every recipe I laid my eyes on….but the thought of washing all of those dishes………anybody else not have a dishwasher? Yeah….
Manuel loves Key Lime Pie, much more than I do, but he is picky. He also loves lemon meringue pie…and flan…and tres leches cake…and dulce de leche; simply a heaping amount on a spoon. He was born in Venezuela and lived there until he was 7. I think that is somehow relevant, but I won’t attempt to explain why I think it’s relevant. All I know is that if you put a can of condensed milk in front of him, he will carry it around with one hole poked in the top, sipping on it throughout the day like a baby with his bottle. Therefore, anything made with condensed milk (like Key Lime Pie); he loves.
When we went to Miami on one of our trips to Florida; we ate at Joe’s Stone Crab one evening. I had seen it on Food Network and heard that you go there, and for dessert you try their Key Lime Pie. Unfortunately, I can’t remember the Key Lime Pie–but I’m almost certain that we ordered it. We went there very late; probably close to closing time. We sat in a booth near a bar, and it was very dark. The only thing I vividly remember other than that, is being disappointed with their ceviche appetizer. That’s all. That’s the end of that story. Supposedly they have really good Key Lime Pie. I can’t recall…I’m going to have to go back someday and try it again.
Last week we had a slice of Key Lime Pie for the first time I think in a couple of years, from California Pizza Kitchen. We love their pizza, especially since Manuel is trying this no meat/only fish diet with me and they have a lot of vegetarian pizza options. With the pie, I personally thought the lime flavor was overwhelming. When that happens, you either better have a lot of whipped cream to cut down some of the intensity, or like me, you just eat the crust *does the happy dance*! As much as the pie from CPK wasn’t amazing, it really fueled my craving for some really good Key Lime Pie.
So when trying to tackle making my first Key Lime Pie ever, I decided to go with the trusted America’s Test Kitchen and use their recipe out of Baking Illustrated–only I made some changes. I personally love the sweet vanilla taste of vanilla wafers; over graham crackers. I bought a cheapo brand (the bag was only $1) and taste tested them first to make sure they didn’t taste like only $1….luckily they didn’t!
I think that the original recipe says the crumbs come out to about 1 1/4 cup, but I used 50 vanilla wafers which came out to about 1 1/2 cups for me and it was just the right amount. I made some whipped cream and folded in just a little bit of passion fruit jam (I was bringing this over my family’s house and wasn’t sure if they’d like the flavor) but the passion fruit flavor tasted really yummy with the key lime flavor.
Also, I did not use real Key Limes. I bought the bottled Key Lime juice for $1.19 at the supermarket. Since it’s juice concentrate, I was worried that using the same amount the recipe called for would lead to the overwhelming lime flavor. It came out just right. It had just enough lime flavor, but not too sour. Manuel ate almost half of the pie to himself in one day, and says it’s the best Key Lime Pie he’s ever had. The day after I made this was the rainy I was speaking of in the title of this post, and key lime pie turns out to be a great escape from the clouds.
By the way, did you know that America’s Test Kitchen cannot tell the difference in flavor of artificial vs. pure vanilla extract in their baked goods; after all the recipes they have made to put it to the test that pure and expensive vanilla is better? I found that very interesting.
Key Lime Pie with Passion Fruit Whipped Cream – adapted from ‘Baking Illustrated’ by America’s Test Kitchen
- Serves 8
- 1/2 cup key lime juice (I used juice concentrate) or 3 to 4 key limes (regular limes are fine if you don’t have key limes)
- 4 large egg yolks
- 1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
- 4 teaspoons grated lime zest (optional)
- 1 1/2 cups crushed vanilla wafers (about 1/2 of a 10oz bag, or 50 vanilla wafers)
- 5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- 1 tablespoon light brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon granulated sugar
- Pinch of salt (1/8 teaspoon)
- 1/2 cup of heavy or whipping cream
- 1/2 tablespoon granulated sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1-2 tablespoon(s), depending on preference, of Passion Fruit Jam. (You can substitute for any jam you like)
Preheat oven to 325 degrees F.
Prepare the filling first so that you can let it sit at room temperature and thicken while preparing the crust.
Vanilla Wafer Crust
Passion Fruit Whipped Cream
1. Whisk egg yolks (and zest, if using), stir in condensed milk and them 1/2 cup lime juice. Let sit at room temperature.
2. Crush the vanilla wafers completely, so that there are no thick pieces. Mix the crushed wafers thoroughly with the melted butter, light brown sugar, granulated sugar, and pinch of salt.
3. Pressing with fingers, pack down and spread vanilla wafer crust mixture evenly over the bottom and up the sides of the 9 inch ungreased pie pan. Bake until lightly browned and fragrant, about 12-14 minutes.
4. Allow the pie crust to cool for about 10 minutes on a wire rack, and then pour the filling into the pie crust. Bake for about 15-17 minutes, until the center is is set but wiggly when you gently jiggle the pie pan. (Is it just me or does that always sound funny?)
5. Transfer to wire rack again and allow to cool to room temperature and then cool completely in refrigerator for at least a few hours. I sprayed one side of some aluminum foil (incase the filling touched it when I wrapped it) and wrapped it tightly around the sides.
Note: I decided not to use plastic wrap, even if it was oiled, just to not to risk messing up my pretty filling. 🙂 You can, however, choose to use plastic wrap sprayed with cooking spray and lay it directly on the filling–as the original recipe said to do.
6. While pie cools, you can make the Passion Fruit Whipped Cream. Put the (chilled) heavy or whipping cream into a mixing bowl with the sugar and vanilla, and beat with electric mixer (I use handheld mixer) on low speed until bubbled form. Increase to medium speed until the cream begins to leave trails, and then increase to high speed. Stop beating once it thicken and nearly doubles in volume, and has soft peaks. Then add 1-2 tablespoons of Passion Fruit Jam and manually beat it in with a whisk until fully combined. If your whipped cream has already been beat to stiff peaks rather than soft peaks, fold in the jam instead so as not to overbeat your whipped cream.
7. Once the pie is chilled, slice, top with whipped cream, serve, and enjoy!
I was curious how many times I said “Key Lime Pie”…so I counted. It was 11 times this post. Felt like more than that–perhaps all the capitalization. o.O