Friday, August 26, 2011

Lessons in the Kitchen and One Really Good Key Lime Curd

Since I started this blog, I’ve been proud of myself many times. I’ve been a proud baker following a delicious experiment with my Banana Oreo Muffins, and the successful execution of an intimidating dessert with the Goat Cheese Souffles.

I’ve been a proud blogger as well, every time someone comments who isn’t biologically related to me. No offense Mom and Aunts, but knowing that there are people out there who read my blog and have never even met me is very humbling. Hitting 1,000 views was pretty exciting as well. 

I’ve also experienced a few disappointments, usually looked at through rose-colored glasses. The ice cream I attempted to make for the cupcake and ice cream contest turned out like slush, but the cupcakes were delicious and the Almond Buttercream Frosting was good enough to eat with a spoon. The watermelon cupcakes lacked watermelon flavor, but they looked pretty and I made a great Mojito out of the watermelon mint syrup.

Most recently, I made a dessert I was really looking forward to, only to end up with lackluster results. At least in this case, I’m fairly certain I can attribute part of the failure to the ingredients and not the baker.

I attempted to make a Key Lime Curd Cheesecake on a Graham Cracker Crust, adapted from Kitchen Confidante. Her pictures drew me in with how pretty they were, and I took her concept (cheesecake wedged between two layers of curd) as well as her cheesecake recipe.

I made a key lime curd adapted from the lemon curd I used to fill my Lemon Almond Cupcakes. (It's really a shame about that ice cream, since everything else about these cupcakes was awesome!)

The key lime curd was great — simple, with an undeniable key lime tang.

The graham cracker crust I made was an epic disaster thanks to the box of graham cracker crumbs I found and used that expired FIVE YEARS AGO! It tasted like cardboard, if not worse.

The discovery of the graham crackers’ expiration date prompted a pantry-wide cleaning spree during which I removed no fewer than 50 boxed, canned, or bottled items that expired sometime between a few months ago and 1997.

I guess that means we get to go grocery shopping now!

The cheesecake filling had a lovely flavor, but the texture was more like a key lime pie than a cheesecake. After looking up a few recipes for key lime pie, I think I attribute this fact to the packet of gelatin that was mixed in. Future attempts will likely omit this item, because I didn't get exactly the texture I'd imagined.

My Key Lime Cheesecake Pie Bar — with the graham cracker bottom scraped off
For one final layer of failure, I topped pieces of the key lime cheesecake with a spoonful of vegan coconut cool whip that I read about at Chocolate-Covered Katie. I actually kind of liked this simple concoction that consisted of only a can of coconut milk, thickened over several hours, whipped with a packet of artificial sweetener. Mom and Dad weren’t fans. 

All the coconut milk needs is time to thicken in the can to a cool whip consistency
NOTE: Go to my Tumblr page to see my favorite video about Cool Whip! 

So all in all, I ended up with one very good key lime curd recipe, and several ideas about how I can construct a key lime cheesecake in a way more suited to my tastes from fresh ingredients.

Thank you rose-colored glasses for leaving me with one more baking success!

Key Lime Curd (adapted from Joy of Baking
Makes just under 2 cups
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup sugar
  • zest and juice from at least 8 key limes
  • 4 tablespoons butter, softened 
NOTE: Cold limes and lemons are easier to zest. Room temperature lemons and limes provide the most juice. (I read this on the Joy of Baking Lemon Curd Recipe and have kept these things in mind every time I’ve baked with citrus, but forgot where I originally read them. Great tips!)

Directions (from Fine Cooking):
  • Mix zest with sugar, and cream sugar with butter until light and fluffy (about 3 minutes)
  • Add eggs, one at a time
  • Add key lime juice
  • Once everything is mixed together, transfer to a medium pot and simmer over a low flame for 15 minutes, stirring constantly
Seriously don’t stop stirring. If you do, the mixture will bubble, the bubbles with pop, and boiling hot curd will spit out at you. It hurts.

Once the curd is done, let it cool a bit before using or store it in the fridge for up to two weeks.

Possible uses for your new key lime curd:
  • Mix with vanilla yogurt and call it breakfast
  • Pour on top of vanilla ice cream
  • Mix into a cheesecake recipe (that’s what I’ll be doing next time I make this) 
What are you going to do with it?

Let me know and happy baking! …or simmering over a stove.

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