Desserts spelled backwards is “stressed.” Coincidence?
Many of us flock to the pastry shelf, amongst other craving go-tos on that necessary occasion to unwind. It’s such a blessing for us solace-seekers that there is great variety to drown or bury our sorrows. The guesswork is usually taken away when we seek that vice. That comfort. That relief.
The great news of my hubby and I travelling down south before Christmas this year had me craving a Floridian classic for that necessary unwind; that flavourful, yet tangy and satisfying Key Lime Pie. Originating in the Florida Keys, a beautiful collection of connected islands, this refreshing combination of citrus and cream, has satisfied patrons for the last century.
In the early 1900’s legend states that the pie was made from scratch for Florida’s first millionaire William Curry, renowned ship rescuer. The complete origin of the pastry is somewhat foggy, but since then, the recipe has remained a staple for the region and has been a favourite of chefs worldwide, who have since been developing their own adaptations and culinary varieties.
What makes the original Key Lime Pie recipe unique, is the key lime. Key limes are more tart, more acidic, and produce a yellow juice; this differs from limes grown outside the Keys, as they have greener juice and less acid. When you order your pie, your first hint that the pie was made from key limes is the yellow filling. Made with regular limes, the dessert would have a greener filling.
The pie when initially made did not require baking. The method instructed bakers to combine the condensed milk with key lime juice; this caused natural thickening of the filling, allowing for a beautifully set dessert. Nowadays, depending on the recipe you follow, you may or may not require baking; most recipes requiring baking contain eggs in the filling- an ingredient where baking is essential.
Since the original recipe, many have enjoyed this iconic dessert. Nowadays, not only can consumers indulge in the original classic, but restaurants and home cooks have taken the dish and customized it into meringues, flans, and even tarts.
Regardless of how many variations currently available, nothing beats the original in the region, served with lime peel and whipped cream, washed down with espresso as the boats sail by. Divine!