Monday, October 21, 2013

Key Lime Pie Parfait

The Florida Keys, and especially Key West, hold a very special place in my heart. There's just something about the Cuban influences, fresh seafood (conch fritters!), delicious daiquiris, and beautiful sunsets that keep me constantly looking for a reason to return. In the meantime, however, the perfect key lime pie parfait is a way to bring a little bit of that particular heaven into my everyday life.

This parfait is really a deconstructed key lime pie. It consists of toasted graham cracker crumbs, a key lime custard, and home made whipped cream. Around here this works much better than a pie, as each person in the house can help themselves to the serving size and ratio that they prefer. Plus, if you are expecting company, the individual components can be made separately and ahead of time.

Key Lime Pie Parfait
by Chris

For the crumbs:
2 cups crushed graham crackers
1/2 cup plus 3 Tablespoons butter, melted

Preheat oven to 350°F. In a medium bowl, mix the melted butter and cracker crumbs until the crumbs are moist and well-coated. Line a cookie sheet with foil and spread about half of the crumbs on top of the foil. Bake in the center of the oven for about 7 minutes. Stir the crumbs at the 7 minute mark and continue baking for another 3-5 minutes, until crumbs are brown and crispy, but not burnt. Remove from oven to cool, and repeat process with the second half of the crumbs. Once cooled, the crumbs can be stored in an airtight container for about a week.

For the custard:
4 pasteurized egg yolks (from Davidson's Safest Choice Eggs)
1 14-ounce can of sweetened, condensed milk
1/2 cup freshly squeezed key lime juice

In a large mixing bowl, use a hand mixer to gently break and combine the egg yolks (low speed). Next add the sweetened, condensed milk to the bowl and again mix well on low. Then add half of the lime juice and mix to combine. Repeat with the second half of the lime juice. The mixture should thicken a bit as the lime juice is incorporated. Now the custard should be refrigerated for at least 3 hours. It will hold for several days in the fridge.

For the whipped cream:
1 cup heavy whipping cream
3 Tablespoons sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla or vanilla flavoring

Chill a large mixing bowl and the beaters to a handheld mixer in the freezer for around an hour. Also chill your heavy cream for about 15 minutes just before using it. When ready to make the whipped cream, place the cream and the sugar in the chilled bowl and gently mix (on low-medium low) for about 2-3 minutes. At this point, add the vanilla and continue mixing until soft peaks form and the consistency is to your liking. Mine took almost 10 minutes to whip this time, but has taken much less time in the past. Be sure not to over-mix, as the whipped cream can become lumpy. Cream can be stored in the fridge for a couple of days, but may need to be re-whipped if it sits for too long.

To assemble the parfait, choose a serving dish of your choice. Wine glasses, ice cream sundae dishes or other drink/dessert ware will all work. Begin by placing a thick layer of the key lime custard in the bottom of the dish. Top this with a generous layer of graham cracker crumbs. Finally, complete the parfait with a healthy dollop of whipped cream. Garnish with lime slices or more crumbs as desired. 

 *** Variation: You can replace the key lime juice with freshly squeezed lemon juice to create a lemon parfait. Enjoy!

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