A Blue Ribbon goes to…Lime Pie!

Photograph by Johnny Valiant

Lime Pie is the winner of the Summer desserts contest! I may have forgotten to tell you I was conducting this contest, but don’t feel bad since I also forgot to tell myself.  But then I baked this, took a bite and declared it the champion.  This was my first official dessert of the summer, baked in anticipation of the solstice and to honor our out-of-country guests. My sister-in-law is here all the way from Moldova with husband and wee son in tow and they like tart desserts.   This is a recipe from Woman’s Day  magazine and it has caused me to renew my vows to lime pie, a dish I consider a great leap forward in the history of sweets.  When I saw this recipe and the baker’s praise of its sumptuous excellence she was preaching to the choir but I love to be preached to, if the subject is lime pie.

I learned how to make Key Lime Pie (it takes a bit of elbow grease to squeeze all those pixie limes so ever after I used the bottled juice) from an old friend and the former pastry chef of Marzano, Barbara Pasi. She and her sisters wiled away a few memorable summer afternoons perfecting their family’s recipe. Hers was an unbaked pie – the lime juice cooks the eggs the way it does when you make seviche (or rather, when a chef makes seviche and you order it). The result is the freshest tasting pie imaginable but I am unable to get that variety to set. The results are gloppy in the style of many of my well-intentioned, unbaked desserts (my mind turns with shame to the Quick Raspberry Charlotte debacle of last Easter, also known as Pink Slime). The baked varieties yield consistent results so I stick to them now. I followed the recipe with one exception: I used pecan sandies instead of graham crackers because graham crackers aren’t good for anything but s’mores (and I don’t even like s’mores because they are a barely edible metaphor for the misery that is camping).

As I mentioned, the pie was outstanding: zesty, fresh, tart and strangely light, despite being fat and calorie laden.  I awakened this morning to the new season, vowing to eat less sugar. But to paraphrase (also misuse and divorce from context) Augustine of Hippo, “Please Lord make me pure, but not yet.” Because Summer is just starting and so, so many desserts are ahead.