I’ve always had a thing for food culture and food history. One of my prize possessions is the full set of Time Life Foods Of The World cookbooks. The firs time I read one of them was when I lived in Germany and I became immediately hooked. The books are a bit dated now (they were printed in the late 60’s through early 70’s but that is actually part of their charm. But they are a wonderful combination of a cookbook, a travelogue and personal anecdotes from each author. When the internet became a larger part of everyday life, I looked for the books on Ebay and found them. By the time I managed to piece together one set, I had extras and now have almost 2 full sets of the books. I have yet to decide which one of my kids get the books when I die hehe.
One of the things I love about food history is how the things we eat has changed so much and it’s fun to compare. back in the day, people routinely ate things like offal and marrow. I remember my mother, a depression baby, sucking the marrow out of bones and how it grossed me out because I was form a different time period than she. And how many of you have ever had a tomato aspic or jellied beef? Or a Marlborough Pie or Shoofly Pie? Heck, I know many people from the generations younger than myself who have never even had jello or a jello salad. That was such a common place dessert or side dish years back but my theory is that the younger crowd today has far more choices when it comes to sweets so things like jello have fallen out of favor.
One of the things that always sounded interesting to me was Chess Pie. The addition of cornmeal to what would otherwise be a typical custard pie seemed unusual enough to be yummy. But the “normal” chess pie sounded overly sweet, even to me lol. So when I saw a recipe for Key Lime Chess Pie in The Southern Foodie, I knew I wanted to try it. I mean, y’all know me. Turn down something made with lime? Not to mention custardy, aka creamy? yeah right… and I hated Twinkies too.
This turned out pretty good. I was leery at first about the amount of butter used in the crust. I worried it would be greasy. But it seems to have worked, making the crust almost cookie like though a bit less butter would be ideal in my opinion. The filling is nice and tart from the lime but not too tart. The only issue I have is that the directions weren’t very clear on pie pan size. I used a regular 9 inch pan and ended with 1) a very thick crust and 2) too much filling for the pan. So I will say here and repeat in the recipe. Either use a 10 inch deep dish pie pan (hard to find I know), make this in say, a 13×9 inch glass pan or plan on putting some of it into ramekins as I did today.
Key Lime Chess Pie
- 1 1/4 cups graham cracker crumbs
- 1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon flour
- 1/3 cup plus 1 tablespoon powdered sugar
- 11 teaspoons unsalted butter, melted (the recipe called for 12.5 tablespoons but I think a tad less would be ideal with no chance of excessive greasiness. Make your own call there.)
- 8 eggs (yes, 8)
- 4 cups sugar
- 1/2 cup milk or cream
- 1/2 cup Key Lime juice (you can find it bottled with the regular lemon and lime juices at the store)
- 2 tablespoons flour
- 2 tablespoons cornmeal
- juice (and zest; my addition there) of one lime
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- To make the crust, preheat oven to 350 degrees then combine all the crust ingredients and pat into the bottom of a deep dish large pie pan or a 9 inch pan and a couple of ramekins.
- Place the pan in the 350 degree oven and bake for 7 minutes, then set aside to cool.
- For the filling, In a large bowl, combine the eggs, sugar, milk (or cream) and key lime juice. Whisk until well combined.
- Add the flour, cornmeal, lime juice and zest and butter. Stir to combine.
- Pour into the pie shell and bake at 350 until the top is golden brown and the only the very center of the pie is jiggly. The edges and halfway through should look and feel set not liquidy.