Thursday, February 3, 2011

Packer Pie. Kinda. Sorta.


Strict Key Lime Adherents: Please look away. I haven’t got time for the pain.

Everyone else: Let’s make Key Lime Pie! Using regular limes! Because that’s all I have available in my small town! And I don’t live in Florida! So I can’t grow my own! Key limes!

I’m still calling it Key Lime Pie, though—no one can stop me. Not even you Strict Key Lime Adherents.

But I love ya anyway.

Before I proceed, I would like to state that I am currently obsessed with refrigerator pies: pies that require refrigeration (to facilitate setting) before serving. These pies often have a graham cracker or other cookie crust, which I think is at the basis of my current obsession. They’re just making my skirt fly up right now. Can’t explain why.

I chose Key Lime Pie for today’s pie recipe (I have a second one coming tomorrow) because I love the movie “Heartburn”. At the end of the movie, just after Meryl Streep’s character, a food writer named Rachel, discovers that Jack Nicholson’s character, a political columnist named Mark, has just spent their savings on a down payment for a new necklace for his mistress, a tall, leggy European named Thelma with whom he’d had an affair months earlier, Rachel bakes a Key Lime Pie with the sole intention of smashing it into Mark’s face at a dinner party later that night.

And she does it.

And frumpy, disheveled housewives everywhere CHEERED!

And then we got really dang depressed.

But that’s what pie is for: movie-induced depression.

By the way, are you aware the story of “Heartburn” is loosely based on the marriage between Norah Ephron and Carl Bernstein?

Anyway, that’s why I decided to make Key Lime Pie.

We’ve got to begin by making a good graham cracker crust. Put 18 graham crackers (that means the full rectangle) into a food processor.

Pulse until totally crumbled. You could also put the crackers into large Ziploc bags, hand them to your sons, and say “Have at ‘em, boys.” It’ll just take a minute or two.

Pour the crumbs into a bowl.

Then throw in a little sugar.

Or a lot, if that floats your boat.

It usually floats mine nicely.

Some butter. Regular, please. This concoction needs the salt.

Melt it in the microwave.

Then just drizzle the butter over the crumbs.


Stir the mixture with a fork.

It should be moist, but still very crumbly.

Pour the crumbs into a pie pan.

Using your fingers, press the crumbs gently so that they form a crust on the bottom and sides of the pan. Again, don’t expect the crumbs to stick together like glue; the crust should easily crumble if you mess with it too much.

Now just bake the crust in a 350-degree oven for about 5 minutes. This will toast it up a little bit and cause the crust to set.

Grab some limes. If you have Key Limes, yahoo! If you don’t, grab some of these regular peasants.

Now zest a couple of them. You’ll need a heaping tablespoon of zest.

And if you don’t have a microplane zester, please obtain one at your earliest convenience.

And when you do: run the zester over the lime—not the other way around.

Now halve and squeeze the puppies until you have 1/2 cup of juice.

Now dig around your fridge until you find two eggs. Heave a sigh of relief. Then scribble “eggs” on your grocery list.

Separate the eggs. You just need the yolks for this one.

Now, throw the lime juice and the lime zest into the bowl of your electric mixer.

Then add the egg yolks and beat immediately on high for one minute.

Turn off the mixer, then pour in 1 can of sweetened, condensed milk.

It’s good stuff. I promise you that.

Mix it on high until thick and smooth.

If the mixture looks like it needs more zest, add it right in!

When it’s all mixed, just pour it into the crust.


Oh, honey.

I love you so much.

Now bake it in the oven for about fifteen minutes, or until no longer jiggly.

Then remove it from the oven, allow it to cool for a little while, then stick it into the fridge to chill for at least an hour. A couple of hours is better. You just want it to be nice and chilled and firm and perfect.

Like this.

Oh, how I love Key Lime Pie Sorta.

Now, here’s my stance on Key Lime Pie Sorta: it needs sweetened whipped cream. It could be that I’m overly sensitive to tart flavors and I need the whipped cream to balance it out. Or it could be that I just look for justification for putting more cream into my diet.

Either way, whipped cream makes it better.

And here’s how you make it:

Pour about a cup of cold, heavy cream into the (clean) bowl of the mixer. Then add in a healthy tablespoon or two of sugar. You can also add a little vanilla, but we don’t really need it here.

Then just beat it on high speed…

Until it’s very stiff. Perfect!

Now comes the fun part.


Mmmm. You can see that the crust is rather thick in relation to the filling. This is by design; as much as I love the creamy filling, I do find it pretty rich. With the ample crust and whipped cream on top, it turns out to be a really balanced piece of pie…and that lime flavor still really bursts through.

A little extra zest on top totally seals the deal.

Oh, man. I’m so ready for the next five (okay, three) minutes to happen.

It’s…it’s…it’s happening.

It happened.

And now it can happen to you!

Kinda Sorta Key Lime Pie

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

18 graham crackers (the 4-section large pieces)
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup melted butter

Crush crackers in a food processor or Ziploc bag. Pour them into a bowl and stir in sugar and melted butter. Press into a pie pan and bake for 5 minutes or until golden and set. Remove from oven and set aside to cool slightly.

1 heaping tablespoon lime zest
1/2 cup lime juice
2 egg yolks
1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk

Mix lime zest, lime juice, and egg yolks in a mixing bowl. Add in condensed milk and mix on high until smooth and thick. Pour mixture into crust and bake for 15 minutes.

Remove from oven, allow to cool, then refrigerate for at least 1 hour—more if possible.

Serve with sweetened whipped cream and more grated lime zest.

Enjoy every single bite!

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