You know how sometimes you have an 'aha' moment? Well, I had one of these moments recently. It came upon me when I checked out the March challenge for 'We Should Cocoa' hosted by Chele of the Chocolate Teapot. The special ingredient for the challenge was lime. Now I am not a huge fan of citrus, but somehow absolutely love limes. Perhaps its the memories of our lime tree back home in Mangalore, with all its fragrant associations and its hundreds of fresh green fruits (And no, I am not exaggerating, that little tree really did produce hundreds of limes, year after year). And of fresh lime soda, a staple cool drink that took away the mugginess of the Indian summer. Or, of the amazing taste of Mary Berry's key lime pie that I first made back in England. Well, whatever the reasons, as soon as I read the word 'lime' I knew exactly what I was going to make for this challenge.
Actually, come to think of it, the theme also reminded me of my very first appearance on MasterChef UK. Along with the other six contestants, I was sitting outside the studio, waiting for the show to kick off with the box of mystery ingredients, our very first challenge. We were all, understandably, nervous, and people kept batting around ideas as to what would be in that mystery box. I was getting quite worried, but suddenly I thought of my mum's mince cutlets. I honestly have no idea why they came to mind, but they did. And guess what? As we entered the kitchen, and were given our first glimpse of the box, I was astounded to see that the box had almost every single ingredient to make those cutlets. It was my very first culinary 'aha' moment. I made those cutlets, and got rave reviews from the judges, and thus, passed the first test of the MC kitchen. The rest, well, that is all well documented, isn't it :-)
That 'aha' moment, at Chele's lime challenge inspired me to make this absolutely delightful key lime pie, that is really so simple to make, but looks as if you've slaved over it all day. The recipe has been adapted from Mary Berry's 'Foolproof Cakes'. It looks like Nigella Lawson has a similar recipe too, but mine has been worked out using Mary's recipe with my own additions. I also reworked the measures into cups, so I could make it easier for myself.
It being awards season, I should say a big thank you to 'We Should Cocoa' and some of the other blog events like Dom's Random Recipe Challenge, Jacqueline's Slow Cooking Challenge that I have been taking part in. They have made a huge difference to my blogging style. Whereas previously I was a slapdash cook, and an equally slapdash blogger, nowadays I put great thought into my dishes, actually writing out the recipes as I modify them, making a big effort with the presentation, the photography and the style of writing, as well as thinking much harder about how to blog them. I have been known, for the past few months, to bore my husband silly with new ideas for the blog and how to fit them all in. To his credit, Kay has been quite supportive, and recently has even been talking about getting my very first DSLR (totally can't wait for it, yayy) And of course both Kay and Aditi are big fans of the actual dishes, so its not like they get nothing out of it :-)
So anyway, here is the recipe for a totally scrumptious pie. I experimented quite heavily with the basic recipe, and I am quite pleased to report that, unlike some of my other culinary experiments, this one was a complete success. The dark chocolate crust adds a layer of complexity, as well as a hint of bitterness to the otherwise super sweet pie. The filling is creamy and decadent, but with a bright, clean flavour of lime that works really well with the chocolate. It doesn't need baking, which makes it the perfect make ahead dessert, and its a beautifully subtle palate cleanser after a heavy meal. In two words, absolutely perfect!
Makes one 9 inch pie or two 4 inch mini pies
For the crust:
150g ginger digestive biscuits (I used McVities Ginger Nuts) or you can use a plain digestive instead
5 - 6 tbsp butter (75 g)
2 tbsp cocoa
½ tsp ground ginger (opt)
¼ cup sugar
2 squares grated dark chocolate
For the filling:
Juice of 5 limes + zest of 1 (if using key limes, which are smaller, use 7)
1½ cups sweetened condensed milk (400 ml)
1 cup heavy cream (250 ml)
100 ml whipping cream
25g white chocolate
Crush the biscuits into fine crumbs.
Melt the butter in a saucepan, and add the crushed biscuits, cocoa, ginger (if using) and the dark chocolate. Stir together until well mixed.
Grease a springform cake tin (or 2 mini tins), and pour in the biscuit-chocolate mixture. Using the back of a spoon, form a crust, bringing it up the sides, and pressing quite firmly into the tin. Chill in a fridge for at least one hour.
To make the filling, whisk together the heavy cream and the condensed milk until well combined. Add the lime juice, and whisk well. You will notice that the mixture stiffens up nicely when you add the juice.
Take out the prepared crust from the fridge, and gently pour in the filling leaving a little space at the top. Put back in the fridge, and chill well, if possible overnight.
Just before serving, whip the whipping cream till it forms soft peaks. Spread on top of the chilled pie. Grate the white chocolate and zest the reserved lime on top of the pie, and very gently unmould from the tin to serve.