Key Lime Pie

Celebrating with Pie

April 24, 2010 · 73 comments

I have so much to tell you. I couldn’t wait to write this post. But I had to think of the perfect recipe first. And then I got it. Key lime pie with silky meringue topping. Hands down my favorite pie. When something good happens and I want to celebrate with pie, this is the pie for me.

And something good did happened! We found our spot. The little corner of the world where our restaurant, Little Mac, will soon be a reality. I was losing hope for a while there, thinking we’d never find the right fit. But we did, and it feels like the glass slipper. The best part? We bought it. We’re going to own commercial real estate. And a restaurant. Can you believe it? Good, because I’m still waiting for someone to pinch me.
Little Mac: 400 40th Street Oakland, CA 94609

Here I am, stupidly attempting to photograph the inside of the building through the window. Obviously this didn’t work.

Our doors. Can’t wait till they open for the first time. Also can’t wait to take down the “for sale” signs.

A small glimpse of the inside, again through the window. As you can see, we’re starting with a blank canvas. Nothing but concrete and windows.

We are closing escrow in 30 days, and then it’ll be ours (cross your fingers nothing goes wrong). Maybe by then we’ll have plans in place, and begin construction shortly after. If we’re super lucky, we’ll open in October, but most likely November.

The lunacy we encountered before finding this space was astounding. Tell me, why do the craziest, greediest people own buildings in the most desirable locations? We almost signed on a spot in uptown Oakland. Right there on the hottest block in town (hey Oaklanders, you know where I mean). But we didn’t, because the landlord is insane. She lied about square footage, the price per month, wouldn’t guarantee us an extension, and put no ceiling on how much rent she could charge us. Pretty much wanted us to put our life savings into her building, and then kick us out. She warned us, saying “We’ll never win with logic,” and that “She always wins.” Apparently we also acted like first grade teachers. That’s right, teachers. I’m assuming she meant it as an insult.

Good riddance crazy lady.

Enough bitterness. Let’s talk pie. This is the Cook’s Illustrated key lime pie, made with the Italian Meringue they suggest for the Lemon Pie. I love any key lime pie recipe that doesn’t have heavy cream. Nothing against cream, but it doesn’t need it. No key limes though, so I guess that means this is just lime pie.

Since I was celebrating, this had to be over-the-top indulgent. That meant mounds of thick, fluffy, super silky meringue. Spin it in your stand mixer for 12 whole minutes, and try not to eat it all before piling it onto your pie. If you don’t have a torch, a quick stint in the oven gently browns and crisps the peaks while keeping the inside softer than a homemade marshmallow.

Anyway, soon Little Mac will have its own home on the web, along with a sleek logo, facebook and twitter pages and maybe even its own blog. I’ll keep you posted. But for now, celebrate with me, and eat some pie.

Key Lime Pie with Meringue Topping
Cook time: 1 hour   Adapted from Cook’s Illustrated

Lime Filling
4 teaspoona grated lime zest
1/2 cup lime juice from fresh limes (About 4 limes)
4 egg yolks
14 ounce can of sweetened condensed milk
11 graham crackers, processed to fine crumbs
3 tablespoons organic cane sugar
5 tablespoons melted butter
½ cup water
1 cup organic cane sugar
4 large egg whites
Pinch of salt
½ teaspoon cream of tartar
½ teaspoon vanilla extract

Whisk zest and yolks in medium bowl until tinted light green (about 2 minutes). Beat in milk, then juice. Set aside at room temperature to thicken.

Preheat oven to 325F degrees. Mix crumbs and sugar. Add butter, stir with fork until blended. Press into pie pan. Bake 15 minutes, until lightly brown and fragrant. Cool to room temperature, 15 minutes.
Pour filling into crust, bake on middle rack for 15-17 minutes, until center is set but wiggly. Cool while you make the merengue.
Increase the oven temperature to 400 degrees. Combine water and sugar in small saucepan. Bring to vigorous boil over medium-high heat. Once syrup comes to rolling boil, cook exactly 4 minutes (mixture will become slightly thickened and syrupy). Remove from heat and set aside while beating whites.

Using a stand mixer with the whisk attachment, beat whites at medium-low speed until frothy, about 1 minute. Add salt and cream of tartar and beat, gradually increasing speed to medium-high, until whites hold soft peaks, about 2 minutes. With mixer running, slowly pour hot syrup into whites (avoid pouring syrup onto whisk or it will splash). Add vanilla and beat until meringue has cooled and becomes very thick and shiny, 10-12 minutes.

Using rubber spatula, mound meringue over pie, making sure meringue touches edges of crust. Use spatula or your fingers to create peaks all over meringue. Bake until peaks turn golden brown, about 6 minutes. Transfer to wire rack and cool to room temperature.

Where I shopped:
Limes, cream of tartar, organic graham crackers, condensed milk: Whole Foods, Berkeley

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Berkeley food blogger finds spot for new restaurant – Berkeleyside
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