Variations for Key lime pie

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key lime pie
Key Lime Pie (Photo from Key Lime Pie Co.)
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The variations for Key lime pie can make this dessert your own specialty

Key lime pie. Just the sound of it makes the mouth water!

This dessert is an American original, consisting of the juice from Key lime, egg yolks and sweetened condensed milk, placed in a crust. The Conch (the name for Bahamian immigrants in Florida and residents of Key West) recipe uses egg white to create a meringue topping. There are, of course, many variations for a key lime pie.

This morsel got its name from the Key limes indigenous to the Florida Keys. They are aromatic and tart. The limes you see in most grocery stores are Persian, which are less acerbic and less pungent than the Key lime. 

This dessert came about in the 1850s as a result of a lack of milk in the Keys. Cows were not plentiful in that area.When sweetened condensed milk was invented, the residents of the Keys figured, rightfully, they could use this instead of milk in their cooking. The result was a world-favor dessert.

They combined the sweetened condensed milk with limes and fashioned a pie, featuring a pastry crust, which gradually morphed into a graham cracker crust. 

For a variation of this pie, try the Pina Colada version. You will need a crust, which is created from 8 ounces of graham crumbs, 2 Tbsp. of honey; 3 Tbsp. of melted butter and 1/4th cup of brown sugar. 

The filling consists of 16 oz. very cold, heavy whipping cream; 2 Tbsp. confectioners' sugar; 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract; one 14-ounce can of sweetened condensed milk; 1/4th cup fresh diced pineapple -- drain the juice and dice the pineapples to the size of a pea; 1/4th cup toasted shredded coconut; 4 oz. lime juice and 1/4th cup toasted coconut chips, which are used for garnish. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. 

Creating the crust:

  • Combine the graham crumbs, honey,butter and brown sugar in a bowl. Be care not to over-mix. If you do the crust will turn tough.  
  • Spread the mixture evenly on the bottom and up the side of a 9-inch un-greased pie tin or glass dish. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes. Remove the crust from the oven and place it on a cooling rack, allowing it to rest. 

Creating the filling:
  • Combine cold whipping cream, vanilla and confectioners' sugar, whipping by hand or a stand mix. Whip until it peaks.  
  •  Put the diced pineapple, shredded coconut, 4 oz. of the whipped cream mixture and the sweetened condensed milk in a 6-quart mixing bowl and whisk. (The remaining whipped cream mixture should be placed in the refrigerator so it stays stiff.)
  • Add the lime juice but do not add it all at once. Add it in intervals. The juice prompts the cream to thicken.
  • Again, do not over-mix because this breaks down the mixture and it will become runny. The mixture must be dense.  
  • When the crust is cool, spoon the filling into the center of the crust, spreading evenly. Put the filled crust into the refrigerator for two hours. It takes this much time for it to totally set up.
  • Fast forward two hours: Grab a pastry bag and fill it half way with the whipped cream you have retrieved from the refrigerator. Squeeze splotches of the cream around the edge. 
  • Sprinkle coconut chips on top of the whipped cream boundary.
  • Voila. You are finished! Time to enjoy!

If you prefer sticking with the "Heirloom Key Lime Pie Recipe" from the Key West Cook Book circa 1949, here it is: 
  • Combine 1 1/4th cup of graham cracker crumbs in a bowl with 6 Tbsp. of unsalted, melted, cooled butter, and 1/3 cup of sifted confectioners' sugar. Press this mixture into a pie plate. This creates the crust.
  • Bake the crust for 10 minutes, until lightly browned, in a 350 degree oven. Let the crust cool.
  • Beat 4 egg yolks until they turn light in color. 
  • Add one 14-ounce can of sweetened milk, stirring it into the egg yolk mix. Add 1/4th cup lime juice, 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar and an additional 1/4 cup lime juice. 
  • Spoon the mixture into the shell and bake for 10-15 minutes in a 325 degree oven until it sets. Freeze for a minimum of three hours. 
  • Beat 4 egg white with 1/4th cup sugar until it becomes stiff. Spread this over the top of the pie. 
  • Bake in 450 degree oven until the meringue (the egg white and sugar combination) is golden. 

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