Thursday, September 6, 2007

Key Lime Pie Ice Cream: Heaven in Margaritaville

Mercedes of Desert Candy is my hero for making an epic 20 ice creams over the course of one month in her backbreaking (yet mouthwatering) August Ice Cream Challenge. One afternoon a couple days ago I was drooling my way through her selection of ice creams when one jumped out and grabbed my eye: Key Lime Pie Ice Cream (lower fat). The combination of key lime and lower fat, (not low fat, mind you, but "lower" fat), caught my attention. Anything "lower" fat is my preferable alternative to future decades spent tossing back cholesterol fighting pills and getting winded climbing a flight of stairs.

Besides, I love key lime pie! But my boyfriend loves it even more. If it is on a menu, he will order it, even if it is bright green and topped with a mile of miracle whip. He will then proceed to taste it with a connoisseur's palate, turning up his nose if it is too sweet, not lime-y enough, or ensconced in the wrong type of crust. Despite this harsh critique, there is never any left by the end of the analysis.

So as soon as I saw Mercede's oh so simple recipe for key lime pie ice cream I knew what I had to do. I grabbed my bag and ran to the Whole Foods on the way home, picking up graham crackers (organic of course), key limes (there were no organic ones unfortunately) and nonfat sweetened condensed milk (definitely not organic-when is someone going to put out an organic line of sweetened condensed milk, evaporated milk and their delicious cousin, dulce de leche???). Upon arriving home I yanked out a pot and set right to work. A couple hours later we were tasting the most delicious, most creamy, most key-lime-pie-y ice cream I had ever eaten. Soooo delicious! So silky smooth! This is the kind of ice cream that Jimmy Buffet would write a song about-or combine with some kind of rum. Thank you so much for this recipe Mercedes!

See for yourself how easy it is to make:

Mercede's Key Lime Pie Ice Cream

This recipe makes about 4 1/2 cups, at approximately 169 calories per half cup serving.

2 cups milk (I used 2%, but you can use whole if you like)

2 whole eggs

1 (14 oz) can fat-free sweetened condensed milk

pinch salt

1/2 cup key lime juice (freshly squeezed)

1 tsp key lime zest


1. Beat together the eggs in a small bowl. I used my hand held egg-beater for this, but a whisk is just as good. Place the milk, sweetened condensed milk, and salt in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Slowly add a small amount of the milk mixture to the eggs in a stream, stirring to combine. Pour the tempered eggs back into the saucepan with the milk while stirring constantly.

Return the saucepan to moderate heat, stirring constantly, until the mixture thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon (do not boil or it will curdle). Strain the mixture through a sieve into a bowl and add the key lime juice and teaspoon of lime zest. Chill the mixture thoroughly in the refrigerator (you can expedite this by placing the bowl in an ice bath and stirring to cool, then chilling in the fridge).

2. Churn the chilled custard in your ice cream maker according to the manufacturer's instructions. Fold in 2 sheets (or more if you like) of crumbled graham crackers in the last few minutes of churning. Note: Don't skip the graham crackers!!! They are what turns this from lime ice cream into key lime PIE ice cream, and their crumbly texture and more sedate taste are the perfect foil for the citrus!

The other great thing about this ice cream: it doesn't freeze solid like the frozen yogurt I made earlier. Maybe its the eggs, maybe its the sweetened condensed milk, but it stays creamy and scoopable even in the icy heart of the freezer!

If you look at Mercede's recipe on her blog, she offers up a plain vanilla ice cream version of this. Considering how low in fat this recipe is compared to many others, I will probably be using it as a base recipe for a lot of ice cream experiments. If it stays creamy without have a dozen egg yolks in it-that's my kind of ice cream! (Although sweetened condensed milk has always seemed a little iffy to me...what is in that stuff anyways?).


Bitsy said...

Hi! Jose point me over here. Having just tried my ice cream, I thought I'd note that the very high fat variety I prone to make (why use half and half and heavy cream, I mean really, won't just heavy cream do?) seem to all most have trouble getting froze, and certionly didn't get hard in the freezer. I actually took the liberty of turning down the freezer temature to try to get a better freeze. I'd have to think the fat must be the reason for it. That and the liquor we add to the second batch.

Brilynn said...

I had my eye on that ice cream too and I'll probably make it yet... I think next up for me though is maple walnut.

Lyra said...

Bitsy: If you want to see some great tips on ice cream go to David Lebovitz's food blog (its on my blogroll). He recommends no more than 2 tbsp of liquor per quart of ice cream, so if you put more than that in, you might have trouble.

Brilynn: I want to try the salty caramel ice cream, that sounds fantastic. I just made a new creation last night though-and its amazing! I'll be posting about it soon.