My husband’s birthday is January 2nd and while I love my husband dearly, I’m not so keen on celebrating the day of his birth so close to the holidays. After a month of chocolates and sweets, I’m eager to get on with whole grains, raw vegetables and the like. But after years of birthday pie and cake making, I’ve discovered the solution to coping with sweets right after the holidays. And that answer, my friends, is citrus. Seriously, it’s light and bright and I think most deserts made with lemons and limes can’t be too heavy and cloying. Plus, it has the added advantage of making us look ahead towards summer and in the middle of winter that can only be a good thing.
Previous January birthday treats for Cornelius have included lemon meringue pie, a coconut lime cake and a coconut-banana cream pie. Light and tropical! And then there were other birthdays that included a chocolate chip banana bread and ginger loaf and a red ale chocolate cake (yes, beer birthdays are the best). But I think this lime tart has been my favorite birthday baking treat so far and I’m just itching to make it again.
When most people think of lime tarts, a key lime pie is the thing that comes to most minds. It’s got a lovely retro pull and it just sounds refreshing. But the thing about those itsy-bitsy tiny little limes is that you have to juice every single one of them. I’ve heard tales of people using garlic presses to make the juicing of those little green fruit easier, but for me, I like the plain ol’ limes. Every store has them and if you pick right, you can get some juicy little buggers. The trick is to let them come to room temperature and then press on them with your palm just before juicing. Some say use a microwave to heat them up first, but we got rid of ours ages ago, and a good press against the countertop does wonders.
The truth is, I was a little worried because I goofed while mixing up the filling. I used my favorite recipe which calls for yolks only. But as I was whisking away the yolks and the condensed milk, I mistakenly tossed in the egg whites along with the lime juice. But you know what, despite my initial shock that I had done something terribly wrong, it ended up making the perfect pie! The photo above is the the pie just before going in the oven. It looked pretty dang wonderful. I was concerned that the pie filling would be too stiff but the resulting filling was soft and creamy with the added bonus of not wasting any egg whites! My plans on trying out a seven-minute frosting were shot to hell, but I remedied that with some rum-soaked whipping cream which I think made for a perfect dollop of sweetness to contrast against this tart lil’ tart.
I tend to have a heavy hand when it comes to pouring booze. One of our friends who partook in this pie thought my whipped topping was pretty rummy indeed (I, however, thought it perfect). If you did want to make some sweet rum whipping cream, just whip most of a small container of heavy cream and add a tablespoon of powdered sugar (more if you like it sweet) and a glug of good dark rum (Goslings Black Seal is my fave). If free pouring scares you, start off with a teaspoon and taste – adding more if needed. And if you think like me, more is needed.
And the bonus of fluffy dollops of whipped cream is that it hides those tell-tale candle holes left in the pie. We do birthdays up right in our house. Thankfully, we only went with 6 candles instead of the 30-plus candles that would have been necessary for a proper birthday send-off!
elsewhere: Not interested in dessert just yet? Head over to Poppytalk where you’ll find a delicious recipe for Salsa & Black Bean Tortilla Soup. Perfect for warming up the endless January chill.
Note that condensed milk must come in different sizes depending where you’re from. I used a 300 ml can but you can easily use a 400ml can just as easily without subbing a thing. If you do use a larger can, you’ll get a sweeter pie. Can’t find sweetened condensed milk in your country? Google a recipe, there’s many out there.
1 1/4 c graham cracker crumbs
2 T white sugar
5 T melted butter
1 can sweetened condensed milk (300 ml)
1/2 cup lime juice (about 4 limes)
2 t grated lime zest
1. Preheat oven to 350F and place oven rack in the centre. Butter a tart pan (sides and bottom) and set aside. Mix together the crumbs and sugar until well blender. Stir in the melted butter with a fork and then firmly press the crumbs into your prepared tart pan with your hands – up along the sides and the bottom of the pan. Bake for 10 minutes. Remove and let cool.
2. While the crumb crust is baking, in your electric mixer, whisk together the eggs until frothy. Slowly pour in the condensed milk and beat for 5 minutes until fluffy. Pour in lime juice and zest and beat until mixed.
3. Pour filling into crust and bake for 10-15 minutes or until filling has set. Place on wire rack to cool completely. Cover and refrigerate for an hour or two – or overnight. Serve slices with a dollop of lightly sweetened whipped cream.