I spent last weekend in Fort Myers, Florida with my sister Courtney, visiting our cousin Jaime, her husband Ben, and their kids – one daughter and two dogs. Bowen (Bowie) is now a toddler, so Courtney and I were delighted to follow her around, read to her, sing songs, and try to get her to say “Auntie.”
The visit included a lot of good eating. To start, Ben made us his signature family recipe for Tomato (‘Mater) Gravy, which we spooned over drop biscuits and followed with frothy homemade lattes.
A trip to the gelato shop helped beat the southern Florida heat. Notice how Bowie has a spoon in each hand. All the better to sample with. Smart kid!
This photo is from my sister. She propped her camera on a counter and set the timer. If you know her, you know she has perfected this move to the letter. Thanks, Court!
We tried to have a sunset beach picnic on Sanibel Island, but when the rain didn’t let up, we had to eat our sandwiches in the car. Undaunted, we still got out and headed for the beach, demonstrating the “Sanibel Stoop” while hunting for shells in the waves and catching glimpses of the sunset through the clouds. The ocean wasn’t just warm, it was almost hot. Nothing like the frigid Atlantic I am used to…
Playing on the beach in the rain with my sister and cousin had me feeling very much like a kid again. We spent a lot of time on the beaches of Cape Cod during the 80’s, and it doesn’t take much for us to slip into our old roles when we get together. I am lucky to have my sisters and cousins.
On our last day, Jaime took us to Norman Love Chocolate Salon, which was opened by master chocolatier Love in 2001 after serving as corporate executive pastry chef for the Ritz-Carlton for 13 years. I gave in and bought a half-dozen truffles to try. They were just too pretty to pass up.
Top Row: Peaches and Cream, Vanilla Cupcake, Coconut
Bottom Row: Hazlenut Praline, Pumpkin Pie, Tiramisu
My favorite was the rich, espresso-flavored Tiramisu, though the Peaches and Cream was also very good and oddly juicy. I split them all with John – his favorite was the Hazlenut Praline for its slightly crunchy texture.
Everything we had was delicious, but the very best thing I ate in Florida was, as the title of this post implies, its official state pie…Key Lime!
Jaime made us an amazing version using fresh squeezed key limes, a crust made with Biscoff cookies, and whipped cream.
Key Lime Pie has a neat history. It was invented in Key West, Florida in the late 1800’s and has a filling made from key lime juice, egg yolks, and sweetened condensed milk. The sweetened condensed milk was a critical component because it would be decades before modern refrigeration would allow for fresh milk to be preserved and shipped to Florida.
Early recipes actually relied on the chemical reaction between the condensed milk and the acidic lime juice, which caused the filling to thicken on its own over time with no baking required. Today, mindful of the safety concerns surrounding raw egg, the filing is briefly baked before chilling.
Key Lime Pie traditionally has an egg-white meringue topping, which I love on Lemon Meringue Pie, but for Key Lime I prefer Jaime’s version, which has whipped cream.
The visit, food, pie, and company were all wonderful.
Thank you Jaime, Ben, and Bowie for a great visit!
Jaime’s Key Lime Pie
Adapted from Gourmet via Epicurious
1 1/4 cups Biscoff cookie crumbs
2 Tbsp. sugar
5 Tbsp. unsalted butter, melted
1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
4 large egg yolks
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons fresh or bottled Key lime juice
3/4 cup chilled heavy cream
2 Tbsp. powdered sugar
- Preheat the oven to 350°F and get out a 9-inch pie plate, preferably glass.
- Use a fork to stir together cookie crumbs, sugar, and melted butter in a bowl, then press mixture evenly onto bottom and up side of the pie plate.
- Bake for 10 minutes and set aside to cool. Leave oven on.
- Whisk together condensed milk and yolks, then add lime juice and continue whisking until thoroughly combined and slightly thickened.
- Pour filling into crust and return to the oven for 15 minutes. Cool pie completely, then cover and chill overnight or for at least 8 hours.
- When you’re ready to serve, beat the cream and powdered sugar in a bowl using an electric mixer (Jaime wowed me by using her food processor) until it just holds stiff peaks. Add more powdered sugar to taste, if desired. Spoon and smooth the whipped cream over filling and serve.
Yield: 8 servings