Wednesday, May 8, 2013

Sittin on a Sandbar Key Lime Pie & National Pie Championship

After seeing a special on Food Network six years ago, I dared myself to join the American Pie Council (www.apc.org) and enter the National Pie Championship, held every year in Celebration, FL.  The first year, 2007, I, for lack of a better term, sucked.  Although I'd cooked my entire life, I had never made a pie crust.  I was taught from the age of 8 to bake breads & cakes, make my own jelly & jam, preserve food, and even cook dinner for a family of 6. But, I'd never made my own pie crust.  I call my first competitive year my "learning year."  The second year fared much better, winning 2 first place awards.  For the next 4 years, I took home a few second & third places, but struggled to find my groove. 

In 2008, while VERY pregnant, I won 2 first place awards--one in the cream cheese division and the other in the custard division.  Each pie came from an "ah-ha" moment, when a brilliant idea just pops in my head.  Neither pie was revolutionary.  Both were variations of something that I already liked.  (I'll post those recipes in coming day.)  This year, as I dreamt of pie ideas, I decided to write down every "ah-ha" idea and try it out as I found the time.  Sad to say, but some of my "ah-ha" ideas were BAD.  In fact, one looked something like vomit in a pie crust...it didn't taste so bad, but not a pleasant looking pie. 

Then, one day near the end of last summer, while literally sitting on a sand bar off the southwest coast of FL, the idea of a beach themed key lime pie came to me.  Why not create a pie that has all the elements of FL...key limes, coconut, sand, sea shells?  And, "Sittin on a Sandbar Key Lime Pie" was born.


Try it out...

2c. crushed vanilla wafers
2 TBSP granulated sugar
5 TBSP melted butter
8 oz cream cheese-softened (Philadelphia Brand)
2 whole eggs
2 egg yolks
15 oz can sweetened condensed milk (Eagle Brand)
3/4 c. key lime juice
3/4 c. cream of coconut (Coco Lopez)
1 c. heavy whipping cream
1 c. powdered sugar

In a bowl, combine vanilla wafer crumbs, sugar, and melted butter.  Press into a 9 inch, deep dish pie plate.  Bake at 350 degrees for 10 minutes.  Allow to cool to the touch before filling.

In a medium bowl, beat cream cheese until smooth.  Add eggs and egg yolks, one at a time, beating well after each addition.  Add condensed milk and beat well.  Add key lime juice and cream of coconut and beat well.  Pour into prepared crust.  Bake at 325 degrees for 30 minutes or until center is set to the touch.  Allow to cool completely before topping with whipped cream and refrigerating.

Whipped Cream
In a cold bowl, beat whipping cream and powdered sugar until still.  Pipe large rosettes around edges.

Garnish
Lime slices, Lime zest curls, and White Chocolate Sea Shells (sea shell molds are available at Michael's craft stores)