Friday, May 6, 2011

Key Lime Tarts

When Matt and I decided to go on our honeymoon to Chicago, I knew that we needed to eat at Nick's Fish Market. It was a place I had gone to with my family when we visited Chicago my freshman year of high school. I remember thinking that it was an exceptionally elegant place which had much to do with the low lighting, big red velvet booths, and the roses my dad had delivered to the table for my mom, sister, and I! The food was nothing to sneeze at itself and the seafood selection is incredible considering how far inland the restaurant is. Yes, I realize that Chicago lies on the coast of one of the great lakes, but I am not talking about lake-food! I'm talking about seafood!

When Matt and I visited, we were graciously offered a free dessert to help celebrate our special occassion. Reflecting back, I'm not entirely sure if we asked for the Key Lime Tart or if it was just brought to us. Regardless, it was an excellent choice. The graham cracker crust was slightly chewy, the meraingue was perfectly sweet and airy, and the tart filling barely made us pucker. I knew that I needed to come home and try to replicate this dessert.

The standard filling was not lime-y enough for my tastes so I usually add a bit extra juice (if you want to alter it to your taste, combine the condensed milk and lime first, once you get it to the desired flavor then add the egg yolks, they will not alter the taste too much, but will alter the color). I like a tart key lime tart, almost like a sour candy.

Graham Cracker Crust

1/3 of a box of graham crackers
5 TBLS melted unsalted butter
1/3 cup brown sugar

Best to combine ingredients in the food processor. If not, mix until mixture just stays together. Press into pan. Bake at 350 for 5-8 minutes until golden brown.

"Key" Lime Tart

1 can condensed milk
3 egg yolks (save whites)
1/2 cup fresh lime juice

Beat yolks and condensed milk. Add lime juice. Zest several limes into mix for extra pizazz (both flavor wise and color). Put into graham cracker crust (I like tart size myself).

Beat egg whites with 1 tsp vanilla while gradually adding sugar (tsp at a time) until stiff and glossy. Top tarts with meraingue.

Bake tarts until the meraingue is set and the peaks are golden brown.

(For problems getting the meraingue to set, add one tsp cream of tartar)

You could obviously make this lemon by subbing lemon for the lime juice and some people make a vanilla wafer crust or regular pie crust.

Additionally, I like to add a raspberry sauce to this to balance out and enhance a bit of the flavors. Merely combine a bag of frozen raspberries, a bit of lime juice (it makes the fruit taste more like fruit), a tablespoon or so of water, and powdered sugar to taste in a pan. Boil until your desired thickness, strain if you so desire (I always leave in the seeds).


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