Monday, July 13, 2015

I Have an Affinity for Green Desserts

Ahh, the lime. Some of my favorite things come accompanied by them- gin and tonics, vodka sodas, and Coronas. But I'm not here to talk to you about booze or the lime's curative powers for scurvy, if that's still a thing. I'm here to talk to you about cheesecakes and pie- I just didn't have a very good segue from one point to the next. We can't always be winners, I suppose. Aside from my hands-down favorite pie in the world, my mom's cherry pie recipe, key lime pie is a close second. But seeing as how I am both lazy AND accident prone, zesting and juicing 20 tiny key limes to make a pie would be downright dangerous for both my knuckles and my fervor for baking. This is why I have never made a single key lime pie in my entire life. But it is so hot outside I thought I might die if I didn't make something at least somewhat comparable, and then Pinterest directed me to a recipe for a lime cheesecake--thus bringing together the holy trifecta of my favorite foods: cheese + cake + lime. If only all desserts could afford my taste buds such an enlightening experience. Although let's be real, as long as it hasn't fallen on the floor for longer than five seconds, I will eat any dessert you hand to me. I just happen to prefer desserts that are green.
Because they are as tasty as they are aesthetically pleasing.
Isn't that just melt-on-your-tongue refreshing to look at? Because it is melt-on-your-tongue refreshing to eat. This is kind of a combination of a cheesecake and a meringue pie, seeing as it has the richness but not the density of the former, and it is a winner in my book for sure. S'mores are wonderful and all, but this cheesecake can make even the most sweltering of summer days seem somewhat tolerable. The power of lime! The process itself is insanely easy as well, so let's get to it, shall we?
Yeah, I didn't even make my own crust...that's how hot it is outside. I've gone listless.
I found and adapted this lime pie/cheesecake recipe from here, and here's what I used:
  • One premade pie crust. Graham cracker would work, but Nilla Wafer was a winner in my book.
  • One packet of lime Jello
  • One cup of boiling water
  • Three TBS of lime juice
  • One 8-oz brick of cream cheese. I went light this time, as I am always afraid I'll have to wear a swimsuit on vacation, and we've got one of those coming up soon.
  • Half a cup of sugar
  • One packet of Dream Whip. This requires a half a cup of cold milk and half a tsp of vanilla to make. It yields two cups, so you could try subbing Cool Whip instead, as it is a similar consistency. Dream whip can be found by the Jello and pudding in a grocery store.
  • Optional:
    • Crushed graham crackers or Trader Joe's waffle butter cookies
    • Lime garnish
    • Cool Whip for topping or frosting decorations
  • One crappy photo montage (I really need a phone with a better camera):
Start by mixing the boiling water, lime juice, and Jello packet together in a medium bowl. Refrigerate after this step for about 45 minutes. You want it slightly set, but not enough to create a skin.
If I had a better camera, you'd be able to see the thickness of the Jello dropping off my finger. When the droplets slightly stick to your finger, the Jello is ready.
While your Jello is setting, mix the packet of Dream Whip with 1/2 C cold 2%/Skim milk and 1/2 tsp of vanilla extract. This takes four minutes, and when done, should look like a thicker version of Cool Whip (see above). Cover and put in the fridge until your Jello is ready.
At this point, I crushed one waffle butter cookie in a small plastic baggy and loaded up a piping bag with a 1M Wilton tip for my Cool Whip. Then I mixed together the cream cheese and sugar for a few minutes until fully incorporated and let it rest in the mixing bowl covered by a dish towel. After that I think I ate lunch or something while cursing Jello for taking so long to become so wonderful.
When the glorious moment finally came, I poured my partially-set Jello into the mixing bowl with the cream cheese/sugar mix. Mix for a few minutes, and if you have any larger clumps of Jello that set quicker than the rest of your bowl, scoop them out. Perhaps eat them, your choice.
Remove the Dream Whip from the fridge and mix in.
And now it is time to pour your mixture into the pie crust. Shove into the fridge (covered) for about four to six hours to set.
You could stop once the cheesecake has set, but since when do I not look for an excuse to add frosting designs on things? I stirred my tub of Cool Whip with a spatula to get out any air bubbles and then loaded up my piping bag and piped little stars all around my cheesecake. Just hold the tip and bag straight up and down and gently squeeze until you get a star the size you like. Pull the tip away quickly and gently. Repeat around the whole cheesecake.
Then I took my crushed cookie crumbs and sprinkled them all around the side of my cheesecake and on top of my piped stars.
I thought I was finished, but then I realized I wanted to add a garnish to the center of my pie because I am fancy as hell, and nothing screams class quite like garnishes you're not allowed to eat adorning your foods. Since summer has only two real benefits to me, 24/7 flipflop wearability and the fact that it's gin and tonic season, I always have limes on hand in the fridge. Lime garnish on top of a lime cheesecake? My OCD is tingling.

To create lime spirals, take a potato peeler and peel off a large and long chunk of lime. Take this chunk and slice it into smaller strips. Wrap each strip, one at a time, around your pinky finger. This will create a nice circle. You could stop here and it would still be pretty, but to create a spiral, unfurl the circle and take each end and twist in the opposite direction. This will create a nice spiral:
Not pictured is the pinky finger now missing a large chunk of skin thanks to the potato peeler. Just when I thought I might be capable of making an actual Key Lime Pie...
I bled for this cheesecake...for not in or on; I feel like the specificity of my preposition use here makes a really big and less health inspection-y difference. But this lime cheesecake is light, airy, and packs a wallop of tart lime flavor while the cream cheese keeps things from getting too acerbic. No one wants bitter beer cheesecake face. The cool thing about this recipe is that you could easily replace the lime Jello with any other flavor of Jello to create loads of different cheesecakes- orange, raspberry, whatever you like, you adventurous little monkey. So not only is this dessert gorgeous and tasty, it is also extremely versatile in direction. Like the Jennifer Lawrence of cheesecakes, if you will. What, taking it too far? I'm simply proud of the fact that I resisted typing any lyrics to "Put the Lime in the Coconut" during the entirety of this blog post. You're welcome. 'Til next time, my fellow eaters!
Enjoy the view!

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