Brazilian Lemonade

It’s not summer yet, but you’ll be glad to have this in your arsenal when those long hot days finally roll around. The Minion and I discovered this amazing beverage while we were tooling around Salt Lake City and ended up having dinner at a Brazilian grill. The funniest part about it is that it contains no lemons whatsoever. But that is what it’s called.

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The traditional method follows the rule of threes: 3 limes, 3 cups water, 3 tablespoons sweetened condensed milk, and 3 tablespoons sugar, but you can play with it as much as you like to come up with something that suits. I like it with a hint of mint added, myself.

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Take your 3 limes, washed and scrubbed, and slice off the stem and leaf bits at the top and bottom, then quarter them. If you have a really good blender, traditionalists will chuck the limes in whole, but my blender is not that great, so I quarter them. I found wedges were better than cutting rings, as the rings tended to get stuck around the blade at the bottom.

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Fill your blender with 3 cups water and chuck those limes in.

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Next, add in 3 tablespoons sweetened condensed milk and 3 tablespoons granulated sugar. I thought at first I could leave out the sugar but it’s necessary. The milk is just not sweet enough. Feel free to use any sugar substitute you like, of course.

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Now this looks way less appetizing, I’m sure. If you want to add some mint, tip in some fresh leaves at this point.

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Blend for about thirty seconds, until you have this frothy goodness.

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Strain out all the solids and compost those. Your compost bin will smell amazing.

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What you’re left with is a pale green milky liquid and a bit of froth.

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Serve over a glassful of ice and enjoy how refreshing it is.

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Want a dairy-free version? Not a problem. Tip a can of coconut milk into the blender and top it up with water to equal three cups. You will need to double the sugar to six tablespoons to compensate. The result is a slightly creamier version, and I can’t decide which I like more.

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In terms of longevity, this beverage is meant to be served immediately (possibly with some white rum mixed in), but I couldn’t drink both batches by myself that quickly so I tossed them in the fridge. The one of the left is the one I made with coconut milk, and you can see that over time it separates quite a bit. That said, a quick stir and it’s back to emulsified goodness, with no alteration in flavour.

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Rice Pudding

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I LOVE rice pudding. It was a big treat for us growing up in a household where desserts were a rarity. And it was a dessert that, like apple crumble, was totally legal for BREAKFAST too! My grandmother made it. My mother made it. I’ve made it too.

I’ve been hankering for it recently, and I realized I haven’t made it in almost a decade. BECAUSE THE PIE *HATES* RICE PUDDING. So in all the years we’ve been together I’ve only made it once.

Well that’s about to change. If he doesn’t like it, then it means I can have the whole thing to myself for breakfasts and desserts for, like, a WEEK.

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Now there’s kind of two schools about rice pudding – there’s the totally squishy school of puddings, where the rice pudding actually is more pudding like – and then there’s the baked pudding school, where it’s more like a casserole with custardy bits surrounded by crunchy. I’m kind of somewhere in the middle, but on this one I’m going to go with the more creamy stove-top version. I also like mine with raisins and orange zest and cardamom and lots of cinnamon so if you don’t, well – just leave them out. But I’m going to judge you for that. I won’t judge you for replacing dairy with coconut milk – that stuff goes well with everything.

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The type of rice you use can determine how creamy your pudding will turn out, and as traditionally this dish likely emerged from leftovers, take a look at what you’ve got stored in your fridge. If you use arborio rice, for example, your pudding will be very much like risotto (because that’s what arborio rice is for). Short or medium grain rices will also make for more creamy puddings. And then the spices you use all depend on which grandma’s recipe you’re using, and where that grandma is from. So this is *my* version, that I came up with after some experimentation. It’s not quite my mother’s. It’s not quite my grandmother’s. It’s all mine. I’ll be the grandma some day with this recipe.

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Before you start, measure out 2 cups milk or cream and crack open a 400mL can of coconut milk (or use any combination thereof).

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Beat up 1 egg and put that in a dish. Actually, scratch that. Put an egg in a dish. THEN beat it. Hard to do it the first way ’round.

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Zest as well 2 oranges and put the zest in a dish. Juice the oranges and drink up that glorious vitamin C. You’re gonna need it – winter is coming.

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Now, grab 1 cup arborio rice (the risotto stuff).

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I plopped it in a large pot with 2 tablespoons butter and let the butter get all melty and bubbly and stuff.

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Then I poured in 2 cups water and brought the whole thing to a simmer.

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FOR LIKE EVER. Seriously it takes forever to cook risotto. Keep stirring it occasionally so it doesn’t stick to the bottom.

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Getting there …

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… almost there …

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When you can kind of scoop it to one side and it doesn’t flow back super fast you’re probably ready for the next step.

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Now you can pour in the milk and give it a stir. Tip in the egg as well and stir it around before the milk gets hot enough to curdle the egg.

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Bring it to a simmer and let the mixture begin to thicken, which it will do pretty quickly. While that’s happening, I grabbed 1/2 cup raisins and left them to soak in 2 splashes warm water and 1 splash bourbon (optional).

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Tip some honey into the pot until it’s sweetened to taste. I used about 1/4 cup honey.

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You can add in your orange zest now, as well as 1 teaspoon cinnamon and 1 teaspoon cardamom.

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Then I chucked in the raisins, bourbon-water and all.

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Lower the heat and allow that to simmer, stirring occasionally.

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The liquid will begin to disappear.

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We are almost there. I dig those totally round air bubble pockets.

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When the pudding is at a consistency that you like (i.e., when you stir it the liquid doesn’t form pools) then it’s ready to serve. You can enjoy it hot and liquidy or cold and solid – it’s entirely up to you!

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Treats Week: All Truffles, All the Time

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I think I would lead a happier life if every Wednesday was a truffle day.  Just sayin’.

I have an easy kind of truffles for you today, delicious to the max.  They make great nibblies to have on hand for guests who drop by, and also elegant little gifts.  And the best part of this recipe (which I have modified from here and here), aside from its simplicity and versatility, is that they’re totally vegan and gluten-free.  So you can make everyone happy.  Serve them with chokladboll for fika and it will be even more impressive.

Soak about 15 medjool dates (those are the big ones) for about 15 minutes.

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While the dates are relaxing in their nice bath, take about 1 cup dessicated coconut, and chuck it in your food processor.  Pulse that until you have teeny flakes, and set half of it aside for coating the finished truffles.

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Do the same with 1 cup walnuts, almonds, pecans, or nut of your choosing, reserving half for coating.  I toasted these ones first.

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Dump the other half of the coconut and nuts back in the food processor.

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Add the soaked dates to the food processor, as well as 1/4 teaspoon fine sea salt, 1/2 teaspoon cayenne powder, 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, and 1/4 cup full-fat coconut milk.  Alternately, you can use a few tablespoons of coconut oil.

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Now what you should know here is that I both doubled the recipe and my food processor is really small, so I did this in batches and mixed it together in a bowl.

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Pulse that gooey mass until it’s all finely combined and forming a huge ball.  Chuck that in the fridge for about 15 minutes.

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Then you can start making truffles balls with your hands.  Take about 2 tablespoons of the mixture and roll it in your palms to form a rough sphere. This was my hand after doing the whole batch.

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Roll about a third of your truffles in unsweetened cocoa powder (with an extra sprinkling of cayenne if you wish), another third in your coconut flakes, and the last third in the crushed nuts.

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Keep these in the fridge, or freeze them for later on down the road. My doubled recipe made 48 truffles.

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They’re so pretty and tasty and spicy!

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Pumpkin Soup

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Right.  So.  In my effort to effectively use all the pumpkin purée left over from our Pumpkin-Off, all 14 cups of it, we are starting to get sick of pumpkin (though the amount of fibre that has been added to our diet is extraordinary).

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The solution?  SOUP.  Most pumpkin soup recipes call for a single can (a little less than 2 cups) of the stuff, but I’m just gonna giv’er and dump in the rest of what I got.  BLAM.  It came out to about 2 1/2 cups.

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I don’t really feel like blending this soup, because the pumpkin is pre-puréed, so I’m just going to cut everything else up really small. It’s a really quick recipe, too, no need to simmer for a long time, so you can make it, say, just before lunch, and then eat it right away.

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First I got my spices ready: minced garlic, a little bit of cumin, some curry, and a bit of chipotle.

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And the incidentals: lemon juice (don’t mock my plastic lemon, it’s the best I can do in Newfoundland), chicken broth, and coconut milk.

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Then my vegetables: three carrots, an onion, and a red pepper.

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The carrots I scrubbed and grated with the skins still on.  That’s good vitamins for ya.

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The red pepper and onion I diced up.

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In a large saucepan, then, heat up a bit of olive oil on medium-high and toss in your onions.  Cook those until they’re softened.

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Then add in your cup o’spices, and stir that around for a minute or so.

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Chuck in your grated carrot and diced pepper and stir that around as well, spritz it with lemon juice, then add in your coconut milk and stir until fully incorporated.

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Add in the pumpkin finally (it was already cooked, so I didn’t want to overcook it), and pour in the chicken broth until you’ve reached a consistency that you like.  Let that simmer for about 20 minutes and that’s it, you’re all done.

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Season with salt and pepper, and a little more lemon if you like.  At the eleventh hour I added a teaspoon ground cloves to boost the pumpkin.

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This one came out a bit spicy, because I guess my curry was hotter than I had previously thought. I would recommend serving with a bit of yogurt or sour cream.

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Gang Keow Wan (Thai Green Curry) with Eggplant and Bamboo

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When I was in Ottawa a couple weeks ago, Krystopf and Atlas got takeout one night from a local Thai place.  There was one dish we got, the gang keow wan, that was so good I was determined to see if I could recreate it.  So here’s my best approximation, and it turned out pretty close to the original, minus the disposable aluminum serving dishes.

Get everything ready first, obviously.  The idea behind this is that if everything is sliced super thin and ready to go, the actual cooking of the curry will take less than fifteen minutes from start to finish.  Fantastic for a quick meal, which our Sunday dinners always turn out to be.

Start with your chicken (you can use beef as well, or leave it out for a vegetarian option).

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Take 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts, slice them into thirds lengthwise, and then slice them up again into thin little pieces.  It’s easiest to do this if the chicken is slightly frozen.

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Wrangle yourself a leek.  Just one will do.

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Chop off all the dark green stuff, and hack it into thirds.  It goes without saying that you do this with separate implements than you did the chicken, unless you do all the vegetables first and then the chicken last, which is what I usually do.

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Cut each of those thirds up into matchsticks.  Remember to rinse off the dirt before you eat them.  If you want to know the real scientific way to clean a whole leek properly (which I forgot about until it was too late) then take a lookie here.

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Gather up a handful of hot peppers.  These ones are of the mildest sort, but you can go with whatever floats your boat and suits your fancy.  Cut the tops off, remove the seeds (don’t stick your fingers in your eye, OW OW OW OW OW), and make those into matchsticks as well.

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Grab some eggplant.  If you have those tiny Asian ones handy, or baby eggplants, use about five of them.  These are the long thin Italian ones, and I used three.  Slice the tops off and cut them into thin discs.

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Bust out some lime leaves (kaffir).

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Grab a handful, and, if they’re frozen, let them thaw.  If they’re dried, give them a soak.  If they’re fresh, then you are a lucky person for living in a part of the world where you can get them fresh and you probably don’t need my instructions on how to make a green curry.  Go find something else to do.

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When they’re ready, slice out the woody centre stem and chop them up finely.

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If you have them handy, like, for instance, you are growing your own indoor herb farm (see tomorrow’s post!), then harvest some fresh cilantro and fresh basil. Chop those babies up as well.

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As well, crack open a can of slivered bamboo shoots.

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Put them aside with your other fresh stuff.

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And you’re going to need an assortment of canned and jarred stuff as well.

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In a large, shallow saucepan or deep frying pan, heat up about 3 tablespoons olive oil.  Add to that 3-5 tablespoons green curry paste and 4 teaspoons minced garlic and sauté that at medium heat until the kitchen starts to smell really good.

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Add in as well 2 tablespoons each ground cumin and ground coriander and 1 tablespoon powdered stock (chicken, beef, or vegetable — this is optional).  You can add in some salt and pepper as well, if you like.

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If you’ve got it, add some lemongrass in as well.  This stuff came in a tube!

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Now add in 1 can coconut milk and, if you can get it, 1 can coconut cream (if not just go with two cans of the milk).  Make sure your cream isn’t sweetened before you dump it in.  I discovered that a little too late, so this curry was definitely on the sweet side, but still good.  Now you have this lovely rich greenish brownish soup.

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Slide in your chicken slices and the chopped lime leaves and allow to simmer for just a few minutes until the chicken is no longer pink.

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Raise the temperature and bring the liquid to a boil after adding all your vegetables.

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Allow the vegetables to soften, and the eggplant to go a bit brown.  Then add in your chopped basil and cilantro.

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Serve hot over rice, and eat it with a spoon in the traditional way.  I’m having some of the leftovers for lunch today.  I’m rather excited about it.

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Sweet Bread Pudding with Squash and Tres Leches Sauce

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Second bread pudding of the week.  And this one is also made of squash.  But here’s the kicker: this one is a sweet one, a bread pudding you can have for dessert or even breakfast.  A very rich breakfast.  When the Pie and I ate this dish last Sunday morning we had to go and have a nap afterwards.  But it was worth it.

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There’s a bunch of this that you can do the day before, to save yourself time.

First,  you roast a butternut squash at 400°F until it’s all tender and squishy, about 30-45 minutes.

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If that doesn’t do the trick you can always put it in the microwave.

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Cut up a baguette into chunks and leave it overnight to go stale.  If you’ve already got a stale one then you don’t have to wait for it, obviously.

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Now the tres leches sauce takes about 45 minutes to make so you will probably want to do this the night before.

In a medium saucepan, bring a 12oz can of evaporated milk (I actually used coconut milk because that’s what I had on hand) and 6 tablespoons granulated sugar to a boil.

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See how it’s all nice and foamy.

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Dissolve 1/8 teaspoon baking soda in 2 teaspoons warm water and chuck that in as well.  Be wary of the foaming milk.  Keep stirring.

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Reduce the heat to medium and keep it simmering.  Stir it frequently while it cooks, for about 30 minutes, until it’s significantly reduced and a light caramel in colour.

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Add in 1 can sweetened condensed milk and 1 cup whipping cream and stir it around until it’s all warm and thoroughly mixed.

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Now let it cool until it’s just warm and then you can serve it.  Or bung it into the fridge overnight.

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So onto the bread pudding.  Set your oven at 350°F and butter a large casserole dish.

Take half your squash and plop it in a blender with 1/2 cup granulated sugar.

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Add in 1 1/2 cups half-and-half milk (or use regular low-fat milk mixed with your preferred amount of cream), some freshly grated nutmeg, a pinch or two of garam masala, and a shake of cinnamon.

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Give that whirl, then add 5 large eggs and whirl it again until just combined.

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As for the other half of your squash, use a fork to roughly mash it up with 1/2 cup brown sugar.

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Plop your stale bread chunks in a large bowl and add in the milk/squash mixture as well as the rest of your half-and-half.  Let that sit for a few minutes.

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Dump in the rest of the squash and stir it around.

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Pour it into the casserole dish and bake it for 30 minutes, until it’s all solid and browned.

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Serve hot, either as a breakfast or as a dessert.

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Drizzled with tres leches sauce it’s not a healthy breakfast but it sure is good.

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Key Lime Take Two

My last attempt, as we all know, was somewhat disastrous, though the Pie says it is the best pie I’ve ever made (what does that say about the rest of them?).  This time, with some new calculations, it worked out a little better …

Preheat your oven to 350°F.

Chocolate Crumb Crust

In a bowl, mix together 1 cup chocolate baking crumbs, 1/2 cup shredded coconut, and 2 tbsp granulated sugar.

Melt about 1/3 cup butter and pour it in.  Mix well. 

Flatten your crumb mixture into a 9″ pie pan and shore up the sides as well. Bung it in the oven and bake it for ten minutes.  Let the crust cool completely while you work on the filling.

Key Lime Filling

Take yourself a pound of key limes (about two dozen).  Using a rasp zester, grate the zest from about half of them into a small bowl and set aside.

Juice all the limes and set that aside as well.  It takes for freaking ever. 

Take yourself six eggs.

Separate them and put the whites away for something else.

In the bowl of your mixer, plop in the yolks and the zest, along with 2 tbsp granulated sugar.  Beat for several minutes until thick.

Add in 1 can (300mL) of condensed milk and 1 can (500mL) coconut milk.  Beat again for a while, then add your lime juice and mix until incorporated.

Pour into your cooled pie shell (I have slightly overfilled mine).

Bake for 35 minutes or until the middle is almost set.  Cool completely, then chill for at least an hour and serve with whipped cream

Obviously, I still need to work on the aesthetics part.