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03/01/2016

~ Pie-O-My: The Famous Mar-a-Lago Key Lime Pie ~

IMG_3178Don't shoot me I'm only the messenger.  Finding common political ground with anyone this election cycle is harder than it has ever been.  The climate is downright trash-talkin' nasty "out there".  That said, when a friend suggested I post a recipe for key lime pie yesterday, I couldn't wait to get up this morning and make this particular one -- I could hardly sleep.  For the first time ever here on Kitchen Encounters, I am mixing food with politics (and my wickedly-sarcastic sense of card-carrying DNC Super-Tuesday humor).  I'm making what is touted to be "the most requested dessert on the menu" at Donald Trump's Mar-a-Lago Club in Palm Beach, Florida.

Mar-a-LagoBought by 'The Donald' in 1985 for 5M, to use as a private home, the now 'ultra-exclusive' Mar-a-Lago Club, in Palm Beach, boasts 20 acres of manicured lawns, two grand ballrooms, croquet facilities, six championship tennis courts and a private beach.  This property sits on what is now said to be the most valuable piece of land anywhere in Florida -- with a membership only granted to an exclusive few.  

The "Mar-a-Lago" estate (Spanish for "sea to lake") opened officially in January of 1927 after four years of construction.  Marjorie Meriweather Post (then Mrs. E.F. Hutton) had searched for several years to find a proper location between the ocean and Lake Worth.  Her quest for a new home began when it became apparent that she was to be the dowager queen of Palm Beach. The hurricane resistant structure is anchored by concrete and steel to a coral reef.

Will this famous pie be a winner or a loser?  I haven't a clue.  

IMG_3129I have never made this key lime pie before, but, when I heard about it via Oprah a few years back, I was intrigued enough to stick a copy in my over-stuffed file of citrus dessert recipes.  Aside from the graham cracker crust, the ingredients list w/o change, belongs to Oprah, Oprah.com and/or OWN.  

My own recipe for ~ Making Graham Cracker & Cookie Crumb Crusts ~ was posted yesterday and can be found in Categories 6, 7 or 15.  It (the crust) has been pre-baked in a 325 degree oven for 8 minutes, and, it is cooled completely.  Let's pick it up from there and find out together. 

Let's find out together!  This could be HUUUGE!!!

IMG_3137A bit about limes vs. key limes: Lime is a citrus fruit loved for its acidic, tart juice all over the globe.  There are several varieties with lime being the generic name for the Persian lime, and Key lime being the name of the noticeably smaller, rounder, thinner-skinned limes grown in the West Indies and Mexico for thousands of years.  Key lime was brought to the Americas by the Spanish and got its new-world name in the Keys region of Florida where it was grown in abundance.   IMG_3136Key limes are in fact juicier than Persian limes, they have more seeds, and they have a particular flavor and aroma that is loved by chefs, pastry chefs and bartenders too.  They can be substituted for Persian limes in all culinary applications, but, after you taste them, you'll agree that, because of their intense, concentrated flavor, you'll want to use a somewhat lesser quantity of their juice.

A bit about Key lime pie: Key Lime pie is the official pie of the state of Florida.  Besides always making this pie with Key limes, not Persian limes, "Conchs" (Key West locals) have two more rules about making this pie.  #1.  The pie is never green.  It is a natural pale yellow which comes mostly from the addition of egg yolks.  #2.  It is always made with condensed milk, never milk, because milk was not available in the Florida keys until  the 1930's -- when the overseas highway opened and allowed refrigerated tanker trucks access to the region to deliver it.

During the mixing process, which is a bit lengthy, 11-12 full minutes, a chemical reaction occurs between the condensed milk and the lime juice which causes the filling to thicken on its own. Early versions of the recipe did not require baking and relied on this chemical reaction alone to thicken the pie.  Today, for food safety reasons (we all know that consuming raw eggs can be dangerous), the pie gets baked for a short time, which thickens the pie even further.

For the Key lime filling:

4  large egg yolks, at room temperature

1  14-ounce can condensed milk

2/3  cup fresh Key lime juice

zest of 1 key lime (This liberal Democrat progressive woman used the zest of two Key limes.)

For the traditional sweetened whipped-cream topping:

1  cup heavy or whipping cream, chilled

2  tablespoons Confectioners' sugar

1/2  teaspoon vanilla extract

IMG_3142 IMG_3143 IMG_3147 IMG_3150 IMG_3152~Step 1.  On high speed of hand-held electric mixer, beat the egg yolks until light in color and quite thick, a full 6 minutes.  

Gradually add the condensed milk and continue to beat until thickened, 5-6 additional minutes.  

Stir the key lime zest into the key lime juice, lower the mixer speed to low, and very slowly, drizzle, in a thin stream, all of the lime juice and zest until thoroughly incorporated.

IMG_3156~ Step 2.  Transfer (pour or ladle) every last drop of the filling mixture into the cooled or slightly warm crust and bake on center rack of preheated 325 degree oven, 15 minutes, or until the filling has just set.  Mine was in for exactly 15 minutes and emerged set.  

Remove from oven, place on a cooling rack to cool completely, about 2 hours.  Refrigerate for 30-60 more minutes, or overnight.

Closeup of 'The Donald's Dessert' going into the oven:

IMG_3162Closeup of 'The Donald's Dessert' coming out of the oven:

IMG_3170~ Step 3.  Just prior to serving, place the pie in the freezer for 20-30 minutes.  While the pie is in the freezer:  Place the chilled cream, Confectioners' sugar and vanilla in a large bowl.  On high speed of mixer, beat until stiff peaks form.  Slice and pipe whipped cream over each slice.

Yes, I would vote for the Mar-a-Lago Key lime pie.  Past that:

I am woman, hear me roar
In numbers too big to ignore
And I know too much to go back an' pretend
'cause I've heard it all before
And I've been down there on the floor
No one's ever gonna keep me down again

CHORUS
Oh yes I am wise
But it's wisdom born of pain
Yes, I've paid the price
But look how much I gained
If I have to, I can do anything
I am strong (strong)
I am invincible (invincible)
I am woman

You can bend but never break me
'cause it only serves to make me
More determined to achieve my final goal
And I come back even stronger
Not a novice any longer
'cause you've deepened the conviction in my soul.

This gal's message for TRUE change, that has taken my gender generations to achieve, has been paid for & approved by me:

IMG_3202Pie-O-My:  The Famous Mar-a-Lago Key Lime Pie:  Recipe yields 8 servings.

Special Equipment List:  microplane grater; citrus juicer; hand-held electric mixer; rubber spatula

PICT0013Cook's Note:  I love all citrus fruit.  I always have, and, ~ My Love Affair w/Lemon & Lemon Meringue Pie ~ is hardly a secret.  Click into Categories 6, 21 or 26 to get my recipe for the pie filling and learn how to make and top a meringue pie -- which is also a great alternative topping to the traditional sweetened whipped cream spread or piped atop most key lime pies.  

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti

(Recipe, Commentary and Photos courtesy of Melanie's Kitchen/Copyright 2016)

Comments

Good Morning Nancy -- All in all, I was seriously pleased with this version of the recipe. My own recipe, which uses only 3 egg yolks and 1/2 cup of Key lime juice is now ancient history -- 4 yolks and 2/3 cup juice is clearly better. Even though the pie firms up nicely in the refrigerator, freezing it for 15-20 minutes does make for very clean cuts, which, for photos made life a whole lot easier. I would love to bake a pie for you, or, at least share a leftover slice over a cup of coffee some day!

I like this pie--or more accurately versions that look a lot like it--too. A lot! Though condensed milk can be cloying, the lime juice and zest zip it up beautifully. Can you make another one and send it to me? I'm busy cooking something else right now!

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