Key Lime Pie

key lime pie slice out

The story of my life right now… I had every intention of having this post up BEFORE Cinco de Mayo. So, I’m only 6 weeks behind the times. No big deal right? All complaints aside, I only have 3 more weeks of dual duty left. Hoping to get some time in the kitchen come July. We will see. If it gets too hot around here, you might be seeing lots of ice cream recipes 🙂

key lime pie vanilla wafer crust
key lime pie before baking

Thankfully, this pie needs no occasion. The recipe is my dad’s. If you gave dad the choice when we were younger, this was the recipe he was making anytime we needed to take a dessert to a function. With only 3 ingredients outside the graham cracker crust, I can’t blame him. It is easy and delicious. Dad has made both lime and lemon versions of the pie, but the lime has always been my favorite. 

Still working on finding my perfect homemade graham cracker crust, so if anyone has a great one, I would love it. For now, I’ll leave that part up to all of you!

Doesn’t this just make you want to sit outside with a slice and a margarita? Enjoy!

key lime pie slice

(Printable Recipe)

Key Lime Pie
From Dad

14 oz. sweetened condensed milk
4 egg yolks
4 oz. lime juice
graham cracker crust (purchased or use your favorite recipe)
whipped cream
lime slices 

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Whisk together milk and egg yolks. Slowly add lime juice and mix well. Pour into the prepare graham crust. Bake for 20-30 minutes or until the pie has set. Serve with lime slices and whipped cream.


Club: Baked – Mississippi Mud Pie

One of my new goals for myself this year: bake with my groups more often! I really don’t know why I don’t do it more often as it seems more often than not the recipes we make are amazingly delicious. This one being no exception…

This time around, our Club:Baked recipe is hosted by Jess at The Saucy Kitchen. Her choice: Mississippi Mud Pie. I feel like I say this a lot, but without this group, I never would have given this pie a chance. Me. Dark chocolate and coffee? Na… give me some caramel and milk chocolate, and I’m a happy girl 🙂

Nonetheless, both my husband and I found ourselves really enjoying this pie. I made a half version in a little 5-inch pie tin since it was just the 2 of us, and everything seemed to come together really well. There are a lot of steps in this recipe, but most of it is melt, freeze, repeat. I am thinking that this pie could be the perfect solution for when I need a dessert in the middle of the summer. The no-bake factor certainly wins points in the Phoenix summers category. A couple people mentioned on the message board that they had trouble finding chocolate wafers. I have some leftover chocolate animal crackers from when my brother made this cheesecake, and they seemed to work just fine here.

Stop by the Club: Baked page today to check out the pies from the other bloggers, and be sure to stop by Jess’s blog for hosting! Enjoy!

Club: Baked – Sawdust Pie

When Karen approached me about choosing a recipe for my host date of Club: Baked, she asked if I would be willing to pick a recipe out of the pie section of the book we’re baking through, Baked Explorations. If you have been around my blog at all, you know that pies aren’t exactly my area of expertise. I can count the number of pies I have ever made on one hand, and I don’t even need all my fingers. That said, I approached my pick with a wide open viewpoint since most of the pies in the book would be something “new” in my mind.

So, what made me choose this sawdust pie? First, while it has quite a few ingredients, the recipe itself is relatively simple. Outside of the crust, it is just mix, pour, and bake. Second, the ingredients were things that we really like. Coconut has to be one of my husband’s favorite ingredients in baked goods. Lastly, it was a unique recipe with unique ingredients. Who would have though of adding graham cracker crumbs in the filling of a pie?  While I don’t have too many pies that I can speak to in my repertoire, this is certainly one that I have never heard of prior to this book.

As it reads in the book, the pie came together pretty quickly. Since I don’t have a “go-to” pie crust recipe, I also made the crust recipe exactly as written in the book. I feel like the crust turned out pretty good, however I think I may have added just a little bit too much water. Still working on that perfect flaky pie crust. Add the filling and some whipped cream to the crust, the pie was great! I am not kidding when I say that my husband loved it! In the comments about the recipe on the blog page, several of the ladies were comparing it to a pecan pie, and I can definitely see the reference given the chopped pecans although I feel that the texture difference from the graham crackers and coconut give it just a little bit more. With this one now in my pie repertoire, I may be making pies more often. At the very least, it will be making its way to our Thanksgiving feast. 

Be sure to stop by the blog page to see pies from the other ladies. Thanks for baking along with me! 

(Printable Recipe)

Sawdust Pie 
Adapted from Baked Explorations  
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 Tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. fine salt
1 cup (2 sticks) cold unsalted butter

1/2 crust recipe
1 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
1-1/4 cups unsweetened flaked coconut
1-1/4 cups pecans, coarsely chopped
21 graham crackers (I used 21 half sheets)
2 ounces high-quality white chocolate, coarsely chopped
1/2 tsp. salt
6 egg whites
1 tsp. pure vanilla extract
whipped cream for serving
sliced bananas for serving (optional)

In a medium bowl, whisk the flour, sugar and salt together. In a measuring cup, stir 3/4 cup water with several ice cubes until it is very cold. 

Cut the cold butter into cubes and toss them in the flour mixture to coat. Put the mixture in the bowl of a food processor and pulse in short bursts until the butter pieces are the size of hazelnuts. Pulsing in 4-second bursts, slowly drizzle the ice water into the food processor through the feed tube. As soon as the dough comes together in a ball, stop adding water. Remove the dough from the food processor and divide it in half. Flatten each piece into a disk and wrap each disk first in parchment paper and then in plastic wrap. Refrigerate until firm, about 1 hour. The dough can be refrigerated for up to 3 days or frozen for up to 3 months. Thaw it in the refrigerator before proceeding with your recipe.

For the pie, dust a work surface with a sprinkling of flour. Roll out the dough ball into a 12-inch round. Transfer it to a pie dish and carefully work it into place, folding any overhang under and crimping the edge as you go. Wrap and refrigerate the crust for at least 30 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, use a wooden spoon to combine the sugars, coconut, pecans, graham crackers, white chocolate and salt. Add the egg whites and vanilla and stir until just combined – the egg whites should coat all the ingredients.

Transfer the filling to the prepared pie shell. Bake until filling is set to the touch, 30 to 40 minutes. Cool the pie for at least 1 hour before serving it warm, with whipped cream and sliced bananas, if you like.

Fresh Strawberry Pie and 2nd Blogiversary

Wow. Today is my 2nd blogiversary, and I cannot believe that it’s already been two years. It all started with this post about snickerdoodles. You’ll have to excuse my picture, but at least the recipe is good. Snickerdoodles will always be a classic =) 

Blogging is definitely an interesting experience as you get your first comments and start to get your first followers. I’ve come to really enjoy the company of the blogging community and because of this blog and many of you, I’ve tackled many new things in the kitchen over the last couple years including making meringue, bread dough, homemade caramels, and even the pie crust for this celebratory strawberry pie.

In choosing the recipe for my 2nd blogiversary, I wanted to make something a little bit more special than my typical range of desserts. We had a surplus of strawberries around because someone here may have gone to the market straight (hungry) from the gym, and when the new issue of Cook’s Illustrated showed up last week, it was fate. Pie is not a typical occurrence in our house, so strawberry pie it was. Bonus points because it would allow me to give pie crust another shot. This was my 3rd attempt at pie crust with my 3rd recipe, and I think I finally have one that I agree with enough to give it a second try. The crust in the final pie was the perfect combination between flaky and falling apart. Despite that, my experience wasn’t perfect, but I think my struggles were more user inexperience than anything with the recipe. 

Speaking of the recipe, I really wish I could share a slice of this with all of you! The combination of the berry puree with the fresh berries burst with flavor that just screams summer. While we really enjoyed the crust and filling, I wasn’t quite sold on the simplicity whipped cream topping. It needed a little bit more flavor, and next time, I would definitely add some vanilla extract to give it a boost. So if you’re craving some strawberries, head to the kitchen and try this out. Buy some strawberries if you need to. After buying a flat, I have some recipes coming in the next week for you!

(Printable Recipe)

Fresh Strawberry Pie
From Cook’s Illustrated May/June 2011

Pie Crust:
1-1/4 cups (6.25 ounces) unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for work surface
1/2 tsp. table salt
1 Tbsp. sugar
6 Tbsp. cold unsalted butter, cut into 1/4-inch slices
1/4 cup (1.75 ounces) chilled vegetable shortening, cut into 4 pieces
2 Tbsp. vodka, cold
2 Tbsp. water, cold

4 pints (about 3 lbs) fresh strawberries, gently rinsed and dried, hulled
3/4 cup (5.25 ounces) sugar
2 Tbsp. cornstarch
1-1/2 tsp. Sure-Jell for low-sugar recipes (pink box)
generous pinch table salt
1 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice

Whipped Cream:
1 cup cold heavy cream
1 Tbsp. sugar
1 tsp. vanilla (my addition)

Process 3/4 cup flour, salt, and sugar together in a food processor until combined, about two 1-second pulses. Add butter and shortening and process until homogeneous dough just starts to collect in uneven clumps, about 10 seconds (dough will resemble cottage cheese curds with some very small pieces of butter remaining, but there should be no uncoated flour). Scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl with a rubber spatula and redistribute dough evenly around processor blade. Add 1/2 cup flour and pulse until mixture is evenly distributed around the bowl and mass of dough has been broken up, 4 to 6 quick pulses. Empty mixture into a medium bowl.

Sprinkle vodka and water over mixture. With rubber spatula, use folding motion to mix,  pressing down on dough until dough is slightly tacky and sticks together. Flatten dough into 4-inch disk. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate at least 45 minutes or up to 2 days.

Heat oven to 425 degrees. Remove dough from the refrigerator and roll out on generously floured (up to 1/4 cup) work surface to 12-inch circle about 1/8 inch thick. Roll dough loosely around rolling pin and unroll into pie plate leaving at least 1-inch overhang on each side. Working around the circumference, easy dough into plate by gently lifting edge of dough with one hand while pressing into pie bottom with other hand. Leave overhanging dough in place; refrigerate until dough is firm, about 30 minutes.

Trim overhang to 1/2 inch beyond the lip of pie plate. Fold overhang under itself; folded edge should be flush with the edge of the pie plate. Flute dough or press tines of a fork against dough to flatten against the rim of the pie plate. Refrigerate until firm, about 15 minutes. Remove the pie plate from the refrigerator, line crust with foil, and fill with pie weights, dry rice or beans, or pennies. Bake for 15 minutes. Remove the foil and weights, rotate pie plate and bake for 5 to 10 additional minutes, until the crust is golden and crisp. Let cool to room temperature.

For the filling, select 6 ounces mishapen, underripe, or otherwise unattractive berries, halving those that are large; you should have about 1-1/2 cups. In a food processor, process berries to smooth puree, 20 to 30 seconds, scraping down the bowl as needed. You should have about 3/4 cup puree.

Whisk sugar, cornstarch, Sure-Jell, and salt together in a medium saucepan. Stir in berry puree, making sure to scrape corners of the pan. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring constantly with a heat-resistant spatula, and bring to a full boil. Boil, scraping bottom and sides of pan to prevent scorching, for 2 minutes to ensure that cornstarch is fully cooked. Transfer to a large bowl and stir in lemon juice. Let cool to room temperature.

Meanwhile, pick over remaining berries and measure out 2 pounds of the most attractive ones; halve only extra-large berries. Add berries to bowl with glaze and fold gently with rubber spatula until berries are evenly coated. Scoop berries into pie shell, piling into mound. If any cut sides face up on top, turn them to face down. If necessary, rearrange berries so that holes are filled and the mound looks attractive. Refrigerate pie until chilled, about 2 hours. Serve within 5 hours of chilling. 

For the whipped cream, just before serving, beat cream and sugar with electric mixer on low speed until small bubbles form, about 30 seconds. Add vanilla if desired. Increase speed to medium; continue beating until beaters leave a trail, about 30 additional seconds. Increase speed to high; continue beating until cream is smooth, thick, and nearly doubled in volume and forms soft peaks, 30 to 60 seconds more. (I had to beat mine longer than these times). Cut pie into wedges, and serve with whipped cream.

Yield: 9-inch pie, serves 8 to 10

Coconut Cream Pie

coconut cream pie slice from front

Usually it takes me a little longer to process my recipes for a post, but I can’t wait any longer to share this recipe with you. I finally made a pie. That’s right a PIE. From scratch. And, it was a good one too. Granted it was only a 1-crust pie, but baby steps… I’ll get a double-crusted pie under my belt soon enough.  

My husband talked me into making this beauty as soon as he saw it in the March issue of Cooking Light. I think it’s really just because he loves all things coconut. However in reality, I’ve set a goal for myself to make 5 recipes from each of my cooking magazines each month, so he claims he was just helping me towards my goal. The recipe calls for a store-bought pie crust, but I wanted to make my own. I decided that if I was going to make a pie that I was just going to jump in and make all aspects of it.  I settled on using a recipe that I’ll print below that I found saved in my email. I have had it saved for awhile and no longer know to whom it belongs, so if it’s yours, let me know and I’ll give you credit. I’m not totally happy with it, but I think it may be more user error that the recipe. I think the crust ended up being a little bit “too wet,” and it strangely grew bubbles in places when I baked it. Any more experienced pie bakers out there know why this happened? You can kind of see the areas that bubbled below. With the exception of the bubbling issue, the crust tasted great!

coconut cream pie pie dough after baking
coconut cream pie italian merangue

The Cooking Light coconut cream pie is different in that there is not actually any shredded coconut in the finished pie (if you leave off the garnished toasted coconut on top). You seep the coconut and a vanilla bean with some milk and half-and-half and then strain the coconut pieces out to save on total fat and calorie content. The picture of the milk-coconut mixture is above. I think this is a great idea because the filling still ends up tasting wonderfully like coconut, and you may be able to sneak it by those who don’t like coconut solely due to the texture. Since we’re both coconut lovers here, I’m guessing we may be seeing this pie again sometime in our future. Maybe Easter dessert? Enjoy!

I’m linking this to Sweets for Saturday. Check out all the goodies there!

coconut cream pie with slice missing
coconut cream pie from side

(Printable Recipe)

Coconut Cream Pie
Adapted from Cooking Light, March 2011

Pie Crust:
2 c. all-purpose flour, plus extra for dusting
1/2 c. cake flour
1/2 tsp. salt
1 tsp. sugar
1/2 c. (1 stick) unsalted butter, cold and cubed
1/2 c. vegetable shortening, cold and cubed
6 Tbsp. very cold water
1-1/2 teaspoons cider vinegar (to keep the crust flaky)

2 c. 1% low-fat milk
1 c. half-and-half
1-1/2 c. flaked sweetened coconut
1 vanilla bean, split lengthwise
2/3 c. sugar
1/3 c. cornstarch
1/4 tsp. salt
4 large egg yolks
2 Tbsp. butter

Italian Meringue:
3 large egg whites, room temperature
1/2 tsp. cream of tartar
1/2 c. sugar
1/4 c. water
1/4 c. flaked sweetened coconut, toasted

Place flours, salt, and sugar into the food processor. Pulse 2 times to incorporate the dry ingredients. Add butter and pulse 4 times. Add shortening and pulse 3 times. Add cider vinegar and start to pulse as you slowly pour in the water (you may not need it all). Continue pulsing until ingredients are just incorporated. Do not over mix. Turn the ingredients onto a hard surface that has been lightly dusted with flour. Flatten gently with the balm of your hand and shape the dough into a circle. Using a knife, cut the dough into 2 pieces. Wrap one in plastic wrap and chill until firm (at least 30 minutes). Wrap the other tightly in plastic wrap and place in a freezer-style ziploc bag. Freeze for another use.

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Roll out dough and place into a 9-inch pie plate coated with cooking spray. Fold edges under; flute. Line dough with foil; arrange pie weights or dried beans on foil. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove weights and foil and bake for an additional 10 minutes or until golden. Cool completely on a wire rack.

Combine milk and half-and-half in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Add 1-1/2 c. coconut. Scrape seeds from vanilla bean; stir seeds and pod into milk mixture. Bring milk mixture to a simmer; immediately remove from heat. Cover and let stand for 15 minutes. Strain through a fine-meshed sieve squeezing down on the coconut to release all the liquid. Discard solids. Combine 2/3 c. sugar, cornstarch, salt, and egg yolks in a large bowl, stirring with a whisk. Gradually add milk mixture to egg yolk mixture stirring constantly. Return milk mixture to pan; bring to a boil, whisking constantly (it will start to thicken before it boils). Remove from heat. Add butter; whisk until smooth. Place pan in a large ice-filled bowl for 6 minutes, stirring to cool. Pour into prepared crust. Cover and chill at least 1 hour. 

Place 3 egg whites and cream of tartar in a large bowl; beat with a mixer at high speed until soft peaks form. Combine 1/2 cup of sugar and 1/4 cup of water in a small saucepan; bring to a boil. Cook, without stirring, until a candy thermometer reaches 250 degrees F. Pour hot sugar syrup in a thin stream over egg whites, beating at high speed until thick. Spread meringue over pie. Cover and refrigerate for at least 2 hours. 

Before serving, place 1/4 cup coconut in a small skillet and cook over medium heat to desired brownness. Cool and sprinkle over the pie.