A great tool for building confidence in the kitchen

Allison Robicelli

THE WASHINGTON POST – One of the greatest things about having children is that they come out of the womb knowing literally nothing, which means, for a little while at least, they believe you’re the world’s foremost expert on literally everything.

But, eventually, the children get older. They learn to read, they learn to reason, they learn to Google. The cracks in the literacy long con begin to show, and by the time middle school rolls around, those cracks have become craters your kids will gladly lob grenades made of logic and algebra into. While I may no longer be their go-to when it comes to chemistry or Kierkegaard, I have realised there are areas where I am not merely proficient but masterful. For example, I can fold fitted bedsheets. I can fix a leaky faucet. Last year, I kept a basil plant alive for 10 whole months. And, I can cook. Well, I may add.

Bring your kids into the kitchen and you’ll quickly realise that even if you consider yourself a cooking novice, in reality, you are a bastion of basic competency.

Now as far as pies go, key lime is quite possibly the easiest one to execute in the whole taxonomy: You make a graham cracker crust, you do a little stirring, you toss it in the oven, bada bing bada boom you got pie. It’s so simple that I didn’t think there was anything about key lime pie that could qualify as a teachable moment. Then, I let a middle-schooler loose in the kitchen. I will never underestimate key lime pie, and its ability to break a person, ever again.

To make the filling of a key lime pie, you need to know how to whisk, and that’s about it. If you can vigorously rotate your wrists, you’re golden. But I’m good at whisking because I have muscle memory. When I whisk, I make a key lime pie filling that’s perfectly smooth, lusciously creamy, and 100 per cent contained in the bowl I’ve made it in.

There is key lime nothing on my face or my pants. I grabbed the bowl and showed him what real whisking looks like, then handed it back to him and told him to repeat. As an amateur whisker, his motions were nowhere near as graceful.

You got served, son. You got served so hard.

Key lime pie. PHOTO: THE WASHINGTON POST

The beautiful thing about key lime pie, though, is even if it’s a bit of a disaster, it will still be delicious.

Once you look past any aesthetic flaws and appreciate its bright, sunshiny flavour, you’ll want to take another crack at making it. And another. And another.

Eventually, you find just the right amount of pressure in your hands, just the right amount of flexibility in your wrist. Once the motions become as natural as breathing, you can use these powers to shock and amaze. You pass these hard-earned lessons to your children and celebrate when they, too, declare victory over the small stuff.

You tell them that as long as they’re living under your roof rent free, you expect them to regularly make you key lime pie.

KEY LIME PIE

Active time: 15 minutes | Total time: 25 minutes, plus at least 2 hours 20 minutes  cooling time

Eight to 10 servings (makes one nine-inch pie) No need to go searching for key limes to make this pie. Use bottled juice combined with egg yolks and sweetened condensed milk to make the filling for this classic dessert.

Make Ahead: The pie needs to be refrigerated for at least two hours before you plan to serve it.

Storage Notes: Leftover pie may be refrigerated for up to five days.

Where to Buy: Bottled key lime juice is available at well-stocked grocery stores
and online.

INGREDIENTS

For the crust

Six tablespoons (85g) unsalted butter

Two tablespoons (41g) light corn syrup

Quarter teaspoon kosher salt

Six-and-a-half ounces (185g) graham crackers (about 16 crackers)

For the filling

Three large egg yolks

One large egg

Finely grated zest and juice of two small limes (regular limes are fine)

One can sweetened condensed milk

Half cup (120ml) bottled Key lime juice

Lightly sweetened whipped cream, for serving (optional)

DIRECTIONS

Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 350 degrees.

Make the crust: In a microwave-safe bowl, combine the butter, corn syrup and salt and heat in 30-second increments on HIGH until the butter melts. Stir to combine and set aside.

In the bowl of a food processor, pulse the graham crackers until they turn into fine crumbs. Add the butter mixture and pulse until fully combined.

Using your fingers, press the crumb mixture into a nine-inch pie pan and bake for about 10 minutes, or until set and just a shade darker.

Make the filling: In a large bowl, combine the egg yolks, egg and lime zest and whisk vigorously until thick and pale yellow, about two minutes.

Whisk in the sweetened condensed milk, bottled key lime juice and fresh lime juice until fully combined.

Make the pie: Pour the filling into the parbaked shell and bake for seven to 10 minutes, or until set. Set the pie on a cooling rack for 20 minutes, then cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least two hours before serving.

Serve with lightly sweetened whipped cream, if desired.

Nutrition

(based on 10 servings) | Calories: 346; Total Fat: 15g; Saturated Fat: 8g; Cholesterol: 110mg; Sodium: 35mg; Carbohydrates: 47g; Dietary Fibre: 1g; Sugar: 35g; Protein: 7g.