We have some really good friends who just lost their best friend; a 12-year old chocolate lab. If you're a dog person, you understand. Say no more, right?
Thank goodness for The BC, for she's always spot on; this tart and creamy pie hits the spot. I regret not making this sooner this year, but if you're Southern Californian, you know that this is when the season gets really good, albeit with record-high temps this year. This is practically a no-bake dessert, adapted into small pies, using large cupcake tins. Essentially, the grown up and key lime version of my all-time favorite dessert.
Frozen Key Lime Pie, adapted for cupcakes
From Barefoot Contessa: Family Style, page 138
Makes 12 large cupcakes
Click the link for the recipe.
For the crust
10-11 graham crackers
1/4 cup sugar
6 tablespoons (3/4 stick) unsalted butter, melted
For the filling
6 extra-large egg yolks, at room temperature*
1/4 cup sugar
1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
2 tablespoons grated lime zest (about 4 limes)
3/4 cups freshly squeezed lime juice (about 5-6 limes, depending on juiciness)
For the decoration
1 cup (1/2 pint) cold heavy cream
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
Thin lime wedges, or small key lime slices
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees, and line 12 cupcake tins with liners.
For the crust, grind graham crackers in a small blender or food processor into fine crumbs, like powder-y sand. In a medium bowl, combine 1 1/2 cups of the crumbs with the sugar and butter and mix with a fork. Divide the mixture evenly into cupcake tins (a hefty tablespoon is a good measure), and press down with your fingers to make a nice, even and substantial crust. Bake for 10 minutes and set aside to cool completely.
For the filling, combine the egg yolks* with 1/2 cup of the lime juice in a double boiler. Get out a candy thermometer, stick it in and whisk constantly over medium heat until the mixture reaches 140 degrees. This will take about 8 minutes, give or take. Transfer egg mixture to the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, add sugar and beat on high for 5 minutes, until thick. With the mixer on medium speed, add the condensed milk, lime zest and remaining 1/4 cup of lime juice. Pour into the baked cupcake tins and freeze (I'd aim for at least 2 hours, if not 3).
For the decoration, beat the cold, heavy cream on high speed in the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the whisk attachment until soft peaks form. Add the sugar and vanilla and beat until firm. Spoon decoratively onto little pies, top with a lime and freeze for several hours or overnight.
The BC says this will last for months in the freezer - a perfect make-ahead and luxurious end-of-summer treat. I made these two weeks in advance of serving at our September dinner party, and they were just as delicious as they were on day two. I did reserve the lime toppers until right before serving. I wasn't sure how limes would do for weeks in the freezer. If you try it, let me know how it goes.
*If you have no issues using with raw eggs, you can skip the double boiler step and go straight to the mixer with the raw yolks and sugar. When you are ready to add the milk, zest and lime juice, make sure to add all 3/4 cups of the lime juice.
I am a big fan of the foil cupcake liners, especially when it comes to a graham cracker and butter crust, which will grease through your basic paper liner. Foil liners can be found in most markets and for the widest selection of sizes (in gold, too!), I rely on Sur La Table.