Tonight is our "marriage group" meeting and dinner, and I'm bringing Key Lime Pie.
Twenty-five years ago, when my husband and I thought we needed to improve our marriage (which really didn't need improving in retrospect-- compared to the jolt we could use today), we attended a weekend couple's marriage therapy group. Eight of us (four couples) formed a splinter group, and still meet quarterly-- a testament to either our deep connection to each other, or to just plain inertia. In these 25 years, despite one couple's relocation (first to New York then to Maine), 3 deaths (one original husband/wife team is gone, completely gone; and another husband--dead), a birth (my daughter Elly, now 25), and a divorce (although the divorcee remarried, brought her new husband into the group, and he died), we have persisted--remarkable; enough to mention in a Key lime pie recipe blog.
But what's most remarkable is that out of those 4 couples who began meeting weekly in 1980, there remains
So, since this is a blog about Key lime pie, the dessert I'm bringing to tonight's "marriage-group dinner" as we've come to refer to it, the pie needs to serve at least 4.
The first thing I have to say about making key lime pie is don't use Key limes! If, like me, you try to use only authentic ingredients in your cooking, give it up. Buy the bottled stuff, or if you must, buy conventional limes from the supermarket. In the end it won't amount to a hill of beans that you took the extra time (and gasoline to drive to the one and only place around that carries key limes in February) to painstakingly cut each wretched green ball in half and ream out shockingly few drops of juice at a time, taking upwards of an hour, to accumulate "1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons!"
Secondly, and another departure for me, if you can find graham cracker crumbs (I'm not sure these exist, but if they don't someone ought to market them), you won't have to beat the crap out of graham crackers in a plastic bag to make the crust. Just make sure the pre-packaged crumbs are fresh--check the sell-by date.
Third, Key lime pie is not green--it's yellow!
There are a zillion key lime pie recipes on the Internet--this is a version of one of them that, with packaged crumbs and bottled juice, is a snap.
For one 9" pie--serves 6
1 and 1/4 cups graham cracker crumbs, or 10-11 double graham crackers smashed into not-too-fine crumbs
2 tablespoons sugar
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
1 (14-oz.) can sweetened condensed milk
4 large egg yolks
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons Key lime juice, or a whole bag of reamed and tortured Key limes
3/4 cup chilled heavy cream, beaten to firm peaks (adding sugar to the cream is optional; the pie is sweet enough so you don't notice the absence of sweetness in the whipped cream).
Preheat oven to 350 degrees
In a bowl with a fork, stir together the crumbs, the sugar, and the butter until well-combined. Press mixture evenly on the bottom and up the sides of a 9" pie plate--glass works best.
Bake crust in middle of oven for 10 minutes, cool on a rack. Leave the oven on.
Whisk together the milk and the yolks in a bowl until well-combined. Add the juice and whisk again until well-combined. Pour filling into crust and bake in middle of oven for about 15 minutes. Cool pie on a rack (filling will set as it cools) and when completely cool chill covered for at least 8 hours.
With an electric mixer, beat cream in bowl until it holds firm peaks and spread on top of pie, or serve a dollop on each slice.