Kim Sunee’s just-in-case key lime pie

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Photo credit: Victoria Petersen

I’ve done key lime pie before, but this pie is special. For Christmas, I got “A Mouthful of Stars” by Kim Sunee. Sunee is a local writer. Her food memoir “Trail of Crumbs: Hunger, Love and the Search for Home,” and her recipe book “A Mouthful of Stars” takes readers on a journey through her life and travels.

Since receiving the book for Christmas, I’ve bookmarked multiple recipes to try, her key lime pie especially. Initially, I was intrigued by the homemade graham cracker and macadamia nut crust the recipe calls for. The recipe says to use a food processor, but I don’t have one. I put all the nuts and graham crackers into a gallon size zip-loc bag, sealed it and then used a rolling pin to crush the nuts and graham crackers. It worked pretty well.

The recipe also calls for creme fraiche. Sunee gives the option of using sour cream, but I decided to opt for the high-brow ingredient since I’ve never used it before. It did not disappoint. It has a sour, kind of cream-cheesy flavor but makes the whipped cream so much creamier.

Sunee urges the reader to avoid bottled key lime juice, noting that fresh juice is much more flavorful. I believe her, but I did use bottled key lime juice because I had it on hand and wanted to use the rest of it up. Nellie and Joe’s key lime juice is a little higher end bottled key lime juice that I found at New Sagayas City Market. Next time, I’ll squeeze fresh juice to compare.

The recipe yields one 10-inch pie.

Ingredients:

1 1/4 cups graham cracker crumbs

    1/3 cup macadamia nuts (or walnuts)

      3 tablespoons sugar

        6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

          2 (14-ounce) cans sweetened condensed milk

            2 large eggs

              1 1/4 cups key lime juice

                1/4 cup heavy whipping cream

                  2 teaspoons powdered sugar

                    1/2 cup thick creme fraiche (or sour cream)

                      1 tablespoon grated lime zest

                        Lime wedges, for garnish

                        Directions:

                        1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Pulse your graham crackers and nuts in a food processor until ground finely. If you do not have a food processor, put your nuts and graham crackers in a large zip-lock bag and crush with a rolling pin until crackers and nuts are ground finely.

                        2. Add the sugar to the crumb and nut mixture. Pour mixture into a 10-inch pie pan. Using your fingers, spread the mixture evenly across the pan and up the sides of pan, about 1/4 inch high. Pour the melted butter evenly over the crumb mixture and press down on the crust with your fingers to set the crust in place.

                        3. Bake the pie crust for 15-20 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove from oven and set aside to cool. Leave the oven on.

                        4. In a large bowl, combine the sweetened condensed milk, eggs and lime juice together and mix until fully blended. Pour the mixture into the cooled pie crust and bake for 18 minutes or until it’s set but still jiggles in the center. Chill the pie in the refrigerator at least four hours and up to overnight.

                        5. Create the whipped topping that will go on top of the pie once it has chilled and set. In a stand mixer, whip heavy cream and powdered sugar until medium peaks form. Add the creme fraiche and lime zest and fold into the whipped cream until well blended. Add across the top of the pie evenly once it has chilled. Squeeze fresh lime juice over the top of the pie for extra citrus and garnish with lime wedges for a nice presentation.