Key Lime Pie. . .(my version, not the classic)
I can almost hear the screams of the butter clogged southern tracheas and the fossilized Florida "purists" for my having the audacity to call this "Key Lime Pie" when it isn't swimming in all that good southern standby ingredients like sweetened condensed milk. I say, "Fuck you" back. In the first place, there ain't no such thing as Key Limes anymore. They cut down all the lime trees and built trailer parks.
Botany Note Before Oddjob Busts My Chops
What is called a Key Lime is no longer grown in the keys, hurricanes, pollution, and human encroachment wiped it out as a commercial crop. When you see Key Limes in the store, you're buying Mexican Limes.
Step 1: Gingersnap Crust
INGREDIENTS FOR CRUST
1 1/2 cup finely ground gingersnap crumbs (you can go ahead and use commercial gingersnaps but i recommend using Pal Cookies all you have to do is leave them out on a plate overnight and then rip them to shreds in a food processor)
2 tablespoons baker's sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon fresh ground nutmeg
5 tablespoons melted unsalted butter
Mix all the ingredients together and using your very clean fingers or the back of a spoon (in your very clean hands of course) press the mixture into a 9" pan looking for total coverage and an even distribution. Be creative or not when forming the edge of the crust. I usually just pinch it to form a little ridge along the edge of the pan. Bake at 350° for 10 minutes. Cool and refrigerate.
Make a double batch (2 cups finished product) of Lime curd and chill that.
In a small bowl soften 1 envelope of unflavored gelatin in 3 tablespoons good amber rum. (I use Havana Club because even though I'm sober I remain partial to communist hootch. Their economy and government suck out loud but the Cubanos make a beautiful rum. Mount Gay® from Barbados is a close substitute or even a Puerto Rican Añejo would do, but no dark rum please, if you would rather do without the rum use water) Also allow 8oz of cream cheese to come to room temperature in the bowl of your stand mixer.
Cream the softened, moistened gelatin and cream cheese together at a low speed using the paddle attachment of a stand mixer. Add in the lime curd. Mix it very well. Put it into the crust and chill in the refrigerator.
For topping you can use fresh whipped cream, piped in any decorative manner you wish, or since you have some left over egg whites from making the lime curd I figure might as well go with a light Italian meringue. You with me? (I knew you were brave)
1/2 cup powdered sugar, measured then sifted to remove any lumps
2 tablespoons water
4 egg whites
1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar
Have a 1 cup heat proof (like tempered glass) liquid measuring cup handy by the stove.
In a small heavy saucepan stir the sugar and water together until the sugar is completely moistened, then heat, stirring constantly until the sugar dissolves and the syrup is bubbling. Stop stirring and turn the burner down to its lowest setting. On an electric range, turn the burner all the way off and leave the pan on it.
In a mixing bowl using the balloon whip or a hand whisk beat the egg whites until foamy. Add in the cream of tartar and and beat until stiff (Viagra stiff) peaks form.
Increase the heat under the the syrup and boil until your candy thermometer reads 236° (soft ball stage), pour the mixture into the measuring cup (which you can lube with a bit of cooking oil or spray to make the pour easier) to stop the cooking.
If you are using a stand mixer, or doing this by hand (my choice), pour a little bit of the hot syrup over the egg whites and mix vigorously for about 5 seconds. Do this until all the syrup is mixed in (don't forget to use a rubber spatula to get all the syrup out of the measuring cup).
Take the pie assembly out of the fridge and mound the meringue all over the top. I like to use a small silver spatula to make little peaks and decorative swirls, but then I'm a total kitchen show off, do what makes you happy. For a great little added touch I like to dust the very top of the meringue with a bit more powdered sugar because it gives it such a wonderful little caramel flavored crunch.
Put this all under the broiler for 20 seconds to a full minute, watching carefully to prevent any burning, but waiting for that beautiful golden brown of a perfect meringue. Cool, away from any drafts for 30 minutes, then refrigerate for at least 4 hours.
To serve, cut with a wet, thin bladed knife, wiping with a napkin between cuts.
Give this one a try. Serve it to your Southern Friends and watch them as they struggle with the instinct to call you a Goddam Yankee Carpetbagger but fail to do it because this pie is way better than the crap they've been serving.
Laughing at their cognitive dissonance is allowed and encouraged.