Thursday, January 13, 2011

mini frozen key lime pies

I got two awesome compliments from a friend at dinner the other night. During a random conversation about hair color, he said he was was shocked (shocked!) that I am not a natural blonde. (Not since I was three years old, but thanks!) And later, when I presented a platter of the mini Key lime pies pictured above, he asked, in semi-disbelief, whether I had made them. As if they were so perfectly cute, I must have bought them at the mini Key lime pie store.

As a native Floridian, I'm snobby about Key lime pie. I turn up my nose at pies made with regular limes or artificial whipped cream, dyed green filling, and menus that don't capitalize the "Key" in Key lime. Like I said, very snobby. I thought my go-to recipe was the gold standard, but then I saw a post on Oh Joy!, one of my favorite design blogs, about mini frozen Key lime pies. And, whoa.

I had eaten a slice of chocolate-dipped frozen Key lime pie on a stick once. I liked the cold, ice cream-like texture, but as a purist, I didn't need the chocolate. But Joy's recipe was essentially a regular Key lime pie, minatureized. People love tiny things, especially in dessert-form, so I had a feeling this would be a hit.

I tinkered with the recipe a bit, replacing regular lime juice with Key lime juice, cutting back on the sugar and adding a bit more butter to make sure the crust came together. I like a tart Key lime filling, but if you like yours on the sweeter side, feel free to add the extra sugar. I won't judge you.
Joy wrote that she used mini cupcake liners to make her pies, but I didn't have any on hand so I used a nonstick muffin tin instead. As I pressed the graham cracker crumbs into the tin, I was a bit nervous that I wouldn't be able to get the pies out after they froze, but it wasn't an issue at all. Each one popped right out, creating a perfect little hand-held dessert.

After a meal of spicy enchiladas, they were a welcome finale--creamy, tart, and with a thick graham cracker crust. While they're not exactly traditional, I have to say this might be my new go-to recipe. When people assume your dessert came from a bakery, I say that's a good thing.

Mini frozen Key lime pies
Heavily adapted from Ina Garten and Oh, Joy! If you want to make one large pie, this recipe should work for a normal pie pan. And if you can't find fresh Key limes (which are a pain to squeeze, frankly) I highly recommend Manhattan Key Lime juice. It comes in a bottle.
(Makes about 8 mini pies)

For the crust:

1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs, finely ground

1/4 cup sugar
1 stick unsalted butter, melted

For the filling and topping:

4 egg yolks, at room temperature
1 14 oz. can sweetened condensed milk
1/4 cup sugar (I omitted this for a more tart pie)

3/4 cup Key lime juice
1 cup cold heavy cream
1/4 cup confectioner's sugar
Lime zest, optional

Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. To make the crust, combine the graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and butter in a bowl. Press into a 13- by 9-inch nonstick muffin pan (or two smaller pans), making sure the sides and the bottom are an even thickness. Bake for 10 minutes. Allow to cool completely.

In a medium sized bowl, beat the egg yolks then add the condensed milk, lime juice, and sugar (if using). Stir until combined. Using a spoon, pour the mixture into each mini pie shell, being careful not to overfill. (I had a bit of filling leftover)

Use a whisk or hand-held mixture to beat the cream and confectioner's sugar until semi-firm. Top each mini pie with a dollop of whipped cream and a pinch of lime zest, if desired. Freeze for at least eight hours or overnight. Using a butter knife, carefully pop each pie out of the muffin tin before serving.


Casey@Good. Food. Stories. said...

It's been waaaay too long since I had a good slice of key lime pie - this must be rectified immediately!

Colin P. Delaney said...

How can I trust you ever again? That's the question.

Unknown said...

Love, love, love the key lime pie. Even better in mini form since I won't feel pressured to slice it perfectly. Can't wait to give these a try?

Michele | Cooking At Home said...

I just love individual desserts. These look perfect! I just can't believe that you are not a natural blonde ; )

Lisa said...

Casey: Yes, fellow citrus lover, you'll like these.

CPD: Oh, I am full of secrets. This is just the beginning, my friend.

Tender Branson: I didn't even think of the slicing issue. Added bonus!

Michele: Ha! I'll have to thank my colorist :)

Daniel said...

The real question is are the Key lime pies natural blondes?


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