When in Doubt…Leave it at 350

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Birthday Desserts #1 November 7, 2008

Filed under: Baking,Pie — pastrybrush @ 7:00 am
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On November 1st, it was my friend Dancer’s birthday and she asked to make her a Key Lime Pie.  I always make my Key Lime Pie or Bars with fresh key limes.  I have never used regular limes or lime concentrate.  The week before I decided to make the pie I saw them at the grocery store.  When I went to pick them up there were none left.  I caved in and purchased three limes for their zest and Key Lime Concentrate.  I felt so horrible about using concentrate.  I know it is easier than squeezing tiny limes, but the flavor profile is different.  I asked Dancer if she was okay with it and she said yes.  I also knew that I wanted to top the pie with whipped cream and pipe stars around the edge with three stars in the center.  This means that I would need to make stabilized whipped cream, which I have never done before.  I was very nervous about it.

Dancer informed me that she loves graham cracker crusts so instead of the usual Nilla Wafer crust that I make I had to go out and get some graham crackers.  I baked up the crust and it turned out great.  I decided to double the filling recipe since I knew that the recipe I always use doesn’t make enough filling for a pie since it is for Key Lime Pie Bars.  I just really prefer the filling recipe from Cooks Illustrated for the bars because it adds in cream cheese which gives the filling a nice creamy consistency and great mouth feel.  Once the pie was filled I had about 1/2 cup of filling left over, so I poured it in a creme brulee dish and baked it along with the pie so that I could taste the difference in the fillings.

The pie baked up perfectly.  I have learned that you want to be careful when baking the pie.  The recipe says to wait until the edges pull away but that is a little too late because then the edge is overcooked and has a gritty texture.  You want to bake until the center is just set, and the whole pie will have a nice creamy texture.  Once the pie cooled to room temperature, I placed plastic wrap on top and placed it in the fridge.  When I placed the plastic wrap on top it was a little messed up and touch them pie.  I tried to readjust it and it removed a thin layer of the top of the pie.  With that it ruined my chance of doing the simple design on top.  Now I actually had to cover the entire pie is whipped cream stars, grr.

To make the stabilized whipped cream I used a recipe from Baking and Pastry: Mastering the Art and Craft by the Culinary Institute of America. I was so afraid to adding something warm to the cold whipped cream because if the cream isn’t cold it won’t whip up.  I decided to make sure that the bowl and beaters were cold so I put them in the freezer.  After I melted the gelatin I cooled it down, and while whipping the cream with 1/3 cup of sugar I slowly added the gelatin mixture to the whipped cream so as not to change the temperature too drastically.  By doing this it actually worked and the cream beat to stiff peaks.  I was so excited.  I immediately placed the cream in a pastry bag with a star tip and piped stars all over the pie.  It turned out so pretty and I really wish that I would have taken a picture.  It looks so professional 🙂

Key Lime Pie

Source: Cooks Illustrated July/August 2006 Issue

For the Crust:

5 oz animal crackers or vanilla wafers crumbs

3 Tbs. packed light or dark brown sugar

Pinch of salt

4 Tbs. unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly

For the Filling:

4 oz. cream cheese, room temperature

2 Tbs. grated key lime zest

Pinch of salt

2 cans (14oz) sweetened condensed milk

2 large egg yolk

1 cup key lime juice

Preheat an over to 325°F.  Lightly coat a 9 inch pie pan with nonstick cooking spray.

In a small bowl, stir together the cookie crumbs, sugar, and salt.  Add the melted butter and stir until combined.  Using your fingertip, press it evenly into the bottom (I find that a coffee tapper works a lot better for this).  Bake until the crusts are set, about 18-20 minutes.  Transfer the pan to a wire rack and let cool completely.

To make the filling, while the crust cools, in a medium bowl, stir cream cheese, zest, and salt with rubber spatula until softened, creamy, and thoroughly combined.  Add sweetened condensed milk and whisk vigorously until incorporated and no lumps of cream cheese remain; whisk in egg yolk.  Add lime juice and whisk gently until incorporated (mixture will thicken slightly).

Pour the batter into the cooled crust, there will be some filling left over.  Bake until the pies are set edges begin to pull away slightly from sides, 15-20 minutes.  Cool on wire rack to room temperature, 1 to 1.5 hours.  Refrigerate for at least 2 hours before serving.

Stabilized Whipped Cream

Source Baking and Pastry: Mastering the Art and Craft

1 oz Gelatin

16 fl oz Cold Water

16 fl oz Hot Water

16 fl oz Heavy Cream

Bloom gelatin in the cold water.  Add the hot water and stir to dissolve the gelatin.  Cover tightly and store under refrigeration.  To use, melt 3 oz of the gelatin mixture and add to 16 fl oz of heavy cream.  Whip to desired peaks.  I also beat in 1/3 cup of confectioners’ sugar to sweeten the cream.

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One Response to “Birthday Desserts #1”

  1. DrFaulken Says:

    The “worst” dessert you could come up with will look 10x better than what people buy in a typical store. I remember you being upset about the whip cream, but I am sure it looked awesome.

    I am sure Dancer loved it; the real crime is that I didn’t get to try any 🙂


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