Key Lime Pie – Cooking our way through Children’s Books

We are cooking our way through children’s
books.  It means that whenever we come
across some food in a book, we cook it. (You can read more about it HERE) We just finished reading Babar on Paradise Island by Laurent de Brunhoff.  I don’t know why kids love Babar the Elephant.  They just do. 
In this story, King Babar with his family and an Old Lady go for a boat
ride.  They get caught up in a storm and
crash onto a reef.  (Shipwrecks are
always exciting for kids). They find themselves near an island that appears to
be uninhibited, but soon they meet a dragon. 
This friendly dragon teaches them how to build shelter and find
food.  Among other things he shows them
where the lime trees grow and with the eggs from the island birds and condensed
milk saved from the boat, the old Lady puts together a Key Lime Pie.  My kids were very excited about making it,
but when they looked at the final results, they greeted it with a strong, “Yuck, I am NOT eating this!”

Our Key Lime Pie

After much
persuasion and musings like, “well, they do look happy eating it …”  they finally tried it.  Are you surprised to hear they asked for

Do you know much about Key Lime pie?  I didn’t until we started cooking it.  I always look for a little bit of trivia to share
with my kids about anything we are studying.  The history of Key Lime pie begins with Gail Borden
(you come across this name when you buy Borden condensed milk at a supermarket).
 So Gail Borden – who just lost all his
fortune trying to make money canning meat biscuits – is travelling by transatlantic
ship and all the cows on board are sick thus cutting out the milk supply and as a result a newborn baby is starved to death.  So, Borden, traumatized by this unnecessary death, comes home and invents condensed milk.  At the time of invention of condensed milk Key West Florida had no fresh milk,
ice or refrigeration (due to its remote location).  In lieu of milk and cream sweetened, condensed milk had to be used by Key West cooks and thus Key Lime Pie was
invented. Today Florida takes its Key Lime Pie very seriously.  In 2006 Senate passed legislation that made Key
Lime Pie the official pie of the state of Florida.  Florida State Representative Bernie Papy,
Jr. introduced legislation calling for a $100 fine to be levied against anyone
advertising Key Lime pie that is not made with key limes. This bill did not
My favorite part about making Key Lime pie?  Squeezing limes.  I don’t why. 
Maybe I just like squeezing.  My
least favorite part about making Key Lime pie?  Grating limes.  Bor-ring!  

I always use the standard graham cracker
Ingredients for crust
1 ¼ cups graham crackers crumbs (10 crackers)
2 Tablespoons sugar
5 Tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
  • Preheat  the oven to 375F. 
  • Ask the kids to crash the graham crackers or use a mixer.  This time we used the mixer, but usually kids enjoy pounding the bag of crackers. 

  • Stir together graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and
    butter in a bowl with a fork until combined well, then press mixture evenly onto
    bottom and up side of a 9-inch pie plate.
  • Bake crust in middle for 10 minutes and
    cool in pie plate. 

have never done Key Lime pie before.  I
had an extra challenge of having only three eggs in a fridge.  All the recipes that kept coming up in my search asked for at least four eggs.  I almost gave it up for the day until I came across Smitten Kitchen Blog.  3 eggs!  Just what we needed.  
Ingredients for Pie
1 1/2 Tablespoons finely grated lime zest
3 large egg yolks
1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk 
2/3 cup fresh lime juice (from a dozen tiny key limes)
  1. Heat oven to 350F
  2. Zest limes and squeeze juice out of limes.
  3. Separate egg yolks (Have you done it before?  This is the way I do it.  First, I break a small hole on the top of an egg and hold it over a bowl.  The white liquid comes out.  The only thing left inside a shell is yolk). 

  4. Beat zest and egg yolks with an electric mixer until pale and thick, about 5 minutes. Add sweetened condensed milk and beat until thickened again, about 3 minutes more.
  5. Whisk in lime juice.  
  6. Pour into graham crust and bake pie for 10 minutes, or until set but not browned on top.  Let pie cool completely before adding toppings.
Our favorite topping is called the Blah-Blah-Blah Land topping (my 4-year old made it up).  It is made by throwing heavy whipping cream with sugar into a blender and processing it until soft peaks are formed.  I then put this mixture into a plastic bag, cut a small corner and squeezed it around the pie edge (no special tip required).  And if you are wondering why our topping is not as white as snow, it’s because I like to use Organic Coconut Palm sugar, which is not white.  

Note: You know what we did with our squeezed limes?  We put them in our water jar.  It tastes like spa water.
Oh, and don’t worry about Babar the Elephant.  By the end of the book he was rescued from the island and continued his friendship with a dragon under more fortunate circumstances. 

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