25 May 2009

Pretty darn perfect

When I was little, we used to go visit my grandparents in Florida. We would hunt for shark's teeth on the beach with a long rake apparatus, kind of like a boxy meshed basket on the end of a broom-length stick. We also made the occasional foray to Disney World/Epcot Center, which, once, ended in a legendary headache since I loved loved loved the water slide at the hotel maybe a little too much. Ask my parents. I'm sure they would be more than happy to tell you all about it.

The all-time best, though, was this place we used to eat dinner, a dimly-lit, seafood oriented restaurant called "Sharky's", where we all used to go, grandparents, parents, aunts, uncles, cousins, and me. The most memorable item on the menu, as far as I am concerned, was its Key lime pie. In all honesty, though, I don't remember what it was like, but I remember loving it. So when we were invited to the beach this weekend, I thought that a Key lime pie would be the way to go. (See? Beach = Key lime pie. It's a good equation.)

This was pretty darn perfect. Cool and tangy, with the a hint of sweetness and raspberries. It complemented nicely fresh bluefish and brown rice and salad. It was the grace note on the end of a lovely, beachy, sunny day.

Key Lime Tart, adapted from Martha Stewart's Baking Handbook

for the Graham Cracker dough
1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups graham flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
2 sticks (1 cup) unsalted butter, at room temperature)
1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
2 tablespoons agave nectar

for the custard filling
4 large egg yolks
1 14-ounce can sweetened condensed milk
4 key limes worth zest
1/2 cup freshly squeezed Key lime juice (about 12-15 Key limes)

1 pint raspberries, or more, for decoration

1. make the crust In a medium bowl, whisk together both flours, baking soda, cinnamon, and salt; set aside. In a large bowl, using an electric mixer, beat butter, brown sugar, and agave nectar on medium speed, until light and fluffy, 2-3 minutes.

2. With mixer on low, add flour mixture, and beat until just combined.

3. On a lightly floured surface, roll out dough to fit a fluted tart pan with a removable bottom (mine is 11 inches, and it worked perfectly). Fit dough into pan, and press into edges. Using a sharp paring knife, trim dough flush with the rim. Prick the bottom of the dough all over with a fork. Chill the tart shell until firm, about 30 minutes.

4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line tart shell with parchment, leaving a bit of an overhang. Fill with pie weights, and bake until crust is beginning to turn golden, about 12-15 minutes. Remove parchment and weights. Return to oven; continue baking until crust is goden brown, about 12-15 minutes more. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely.

5. Using an electric mixer fitted with whisk attachments, beat yolks on medium-high speed until pale and fluffy, about 2-3 minutes. Add condensed milk, lime zest, lime juice, and salt, and beat to combine, about 1 minute, scraping down the sides of the bowl as needed.

6. Pour filling into cooled crust, and bake until set, about 1o minutes. Transfer tart to a wire rack to cool. Once completely cool, loosely cover with plastic wrap; refrgerate until until well chilled, at least 1 hour and up to a day.

Just before serving, garnish with raspberries.

Sharky's on the Pier
1600 Harbor Drive South
Venice, FL 34285
(941) 488-1456

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