Excerpt from Lamenting those lost Cayman limes
By Barbara Dailey, Cayman Net News
Key Lime Pie was elevated to culinary sainthood when New York Times food writer and cookbook author Craig Claiborne called it “the greatest of all regional American desserts” about 20 years ago.
Food historians believe the original recipe dates back to late 19th century south Florida and romanticized it by designating Key West as the birthplace. Key limes had flourished in the Keys after 1835. A few decades later, American inventor Gail Borden created condensed milk in 1853 and the revolutionary products became a staple of Floridian (and Caribbean) pantries where fresh dairy products weren’t available. (Don’t confuse it with evaporated milk—that’s a completely different thing and not an acceptable substitute!) Some clever Keys cook devised a kind of desperation custard or curd recipe combining lime juice and condensed milk and egg yolks and eventually put it in a baked crust. Pastry proved too soggy and graham cracker crust replaced it because it held up better. That was it. The filling in the original Keys recipe was not baked, as cooks believed the acidic lime juice “cooked” the ingredients. Later, concerns over salmonella in unpasteurized raw eggs changed that and now the pie is baked. One absolute remains: no green food coloring is allowed! Authentic Key Lime pie is supposed to be pale yellow.
Today variations of Key lime pie are found not only throughout the tropical Americas, but all over the world, springing up in unlikely and even frigid places where only Persian limes and bottle juices are available. We think Cayman Lime Pie is the best, but the next question is who makes the absolute best?
You tell me. Cast your vote for today’s Pie Champion and if you think you have Cayman’s Best Lime Pie Recipe, share it with the rest of us.
Tortuga Cayman Lime Pie (Key Lime Pie)
This is my variation of this popular tropical dessert. I’m not fond of graham cracker crust and think mine improves the pie recipe, but you can substitute one if you prefer. If like me, you can’t find Key limes right now, use whatever limes you can find, but use fresh juice. If you like a very tart pie increase the lime juice to 2/3 cup and the grated zest to 2 teaspoons.
You don’t have to garnish the pie, but for a spectacular dessert, top each slice with a spoonful of diced ripe mangos, papaya or strawberries a generous dollop of rummy whipped cream. Sometimes I even surprise guests and serve with avocado slices instead—delicious!!
1-1/4 cups finely crushed vanilla wafers or crisp lemon cookie crumbs
3 tablespoons butter, melted
2 tablespoons light brown sugar, packed
1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon grated lime zest
4 large egg yolks
1 teaspoon fresh grated lime zest
1 14- ounce can sweetened condensed milk
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons fresh Key lime juice
2 teaspoons Tortuga Light Rum
2 dashes Angostura Bitters (optional)
Rummy Whipped Cream (topping)
1 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon confectioner’s sugar
1 teaspoon Tortuga Light Rum
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Combine ingredients and blend well. Press evenly into a 9-inch glass pie plate, covering bottom and sides up to the top. Bake until lightly browned, for about 8 -10 minutes, then remove from oven and allow to cool at least 20 minutes. (If you’re intimidated by making your own crust, use a 9-inch prepared shortbread or graham cracker crust.)
Use an electric mixer to beat egg yolks and lime zest at high speed until slightly thickened, about 2 minutes. On low speed, gradually add condensed milk, blending well, and then add lime juice, bitters and rum, mixing until just smooth. Pour mixture into the cooled piecrust and bake at 350 about 12-15 minutes or until center is firm and set. Allow pie to cool 20 minutes on rack, then refrigerate uncovered at least four hours before serving. For firmer pie, freeze the cooled pie wrapped tightly in plastic wrap.
Rummy Whipped Cream:
When ready to serve, whip together the heavy cream, sugar and rum until it forms stiff peaks. Mound onto the pie and spread evenly.
Cleo’s Cayman Lime Pie
(from Miss Cleo’s Cayman Kitchen: Treasured Recipes for East End)
“This was one of my most famous pies. I still hear from people today who ask for a copy of my lime pie recipe! No matter what others say about pale yellow being the true color of real Key lime pie, I believe that lime pie should be green, and adding a few drops of green food coloring is important. Lemon pie is yellow. My foreign guests expected to see a little green in their Cayman lime pie!”
2 cups dry bread crumbs
3 tablespoons margarine or butter, melted
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 tablespoon brown sugar
4 tablespoons unflavored gelatin
1-1/2 cups sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
4 large egg yolks, beaten
1/2 cup fresh Key lime juice
4 drops green food coloring
1 cup heavy cream, whipped until soft peaks form
4 egg whites
1 tablespoon sugar
Preheat oven to 350 F. Combine the ingredients for the crust in a medium mixing bowl and blend well. Press into a 9 inch pie dish. Bake crust about 10 minutes, until set.
In a large saucepan, mix together the gelatin, sugar, salt to blend, then stir in the egg yolks, lime juice, and water. Over medium high heat, bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium low. Cook, stirring constantly, until filling has thickened. Remove from heat, stir in food coloring; spoon into a bowl and chill until set, about 2 hours. To finish pie, beat egg whites with sugar until stiff peaks form, then fold into whipped cream, very lightly, just to blend. Gently fold the cream mixture into the lime gelatin filling and spoon into crust. Chill pie two hours at least before serving. Top each slice with additional whipped cream if desired
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Edited by Scott - 05 Feb 2007 at 1:54pm