Saturday, December 3, 2011

Gluten-Free He 'n' She Lime Meringue Pie

No More Time to Practice

Time's up!

There's no more time for Pie Practice. It's time for the real thing.

But before we get to Thanksgiving pies, I have to make a Birthday Pie, by request.

This is completely exploratory and experimental. This has never been done before. Do not try this at home.

Or, rather, do try this at home, if I get a favorable result!

This is intended to be a combination of our favorite parts of a gluten-free Key Lime Pie, a gluten-free Lemon Meringue Pie, and a gluten-free graham cracker crust.

We want lime, but no evaporated or condensed milk. We want meringue, but no regular, gluten-free pie crust.

We want a gluten-free pie that is lime, without milk, with meringue and with a graham cracker crust.

I don't think this has ever been tried before.

Viewer discretion is advised.

Gluten-Free Graham Crackers

First things first. We need a crust. And that means we need some gluten-free graham crackers.

I've bought and eaten and liked these gluten-free graham crackers. I've made S'mores with them. I've eaten them with icing. I've had them plain. I like them.

But for this pie, I wanted to make my own gluten-free graham crackers. I needed to be able to say I made this entire pie from scratch.

Well, "needed" is a bit strong there, but maybe "wanted" is closer.

I wanted to make some gluten-free graham crackers. So, turned to my current favorite gluten-free baking cookbook. Amazingly enough, it is called, "Gluten-Free Baking" by Rebecca Reilly. Go right out and buy this book.

I've used her book for a variety of things already, and I've learned to trust her recipes, like her gluten-free pie crust for one. Ooops! I see that I didn't give her credit where credit was due. Sorry Rebecca! The credit is all yours.

Anyways, I came back to her gluten-free baking book when I wanted to find some gluten-free graham crackers for a gluten-free graham cracker pie crust. And I was not disappointed.

This book has both.

To start the gluten-free graham crackers, I used my food processor to mix the flours and then cut in the butter. I presume that you don't need to see another food processor picture here, but I did, in fact, take some this time.

After combining the dough into a ball, I rolled out the dough between gluten-free-floured pieces of parchment paper.

Look at the center. You can see where the dough is pulled up a bit.  That is where it stuck to the other piece of parchment paper. I needed to add a bit more gluten-free flour throughout the rolling, not just a the beginning. Before it gets throughly stuck.

Another lesson learned.

The recipe calls for cutting the dough into 2-inch by 3-inch pieces before baking. I didn't bother, since I knew I would be crumbling it all up for a pie crust. I baked it just as I rolled it.

And that worked just fine. That is, until I tried to get the whole thing transferred safely to my cooling rack.

The big, as-rolled graham cracker started to crack and break, so I stopped and used my spatula edge to cut it down to size after baking. If you look closely at the picture above, bottom cracker/cookie, you can see the top crust is cracked from my after-baking cutting.

I baked the rest of the dough the same way, ending up with two of these as-rolled "crackers".

Don't be like me. Cut your crackers as the recipe dictates. Follow the rules. Stay between the lines.

Especially when making a recipe for the first time.

Regardless of how I cut them, these gluten-free graham crackers were absolutely fabulous! They were soft, more like cookies, than the dry, crispy, crumbly store-bought gluten graham crackers. The taste of these was much better than the store-bought gluten-free graham crackers I mentioned above.

These are worth the very little, minute, simple, brief effort to make them! Do it! You won't be sorry.

Did I mention that these are outstanding with a cup of coffee in the morning? Mmmm, try it. I dare you. You won't forgive yourself for not having done it sooner.

Okay, now that I had gluten-free graham crackers (and I didn't eat them all yet!), I was ready to proceed with making the gluten-free graham cracker crust. And I had to hurry. Those things were going to be scarfed down by everyone in the house! I had to actively fend off my daughter, as well as myself.

Gluten-Free He 'n' She Lime Meringue Pie

Luckily for me, the gluten-free graham cracker pie crust didn't require a full recipe of the gluten-free graham crackers. It required less than half of the recipe.

That's great news! Break out the coffee....

Instead of eating them, I put the some of the baked and cooled crackers into my food processor and made them into crumbs. I dumped them out and measured back in the right amount of crumbs.

Then I added melted butter and powdered sugar and mixed them all together in the food processor.

Then it was time to get it all into a pie plate and make it resemble a pie crust. 

I've read that the easy way to get a graham cracker crust formed into a pie plate is to put the "dough" into the pie plate and push another pie plate down into the "dough". I tried this. It didn't work. It just made a mess on the top pie plate and crust never made it up the sides of the pie plate.

I quickly scrapped that idea and just used my fingers to smooth the "dough" around the whole pie plate and up the sides. This isn't really a dough in any sense of the word, but it is malleable. By the time I worked the "dough" up the sides and out the edge, it was pretty thin in places. I tried my best to smooth it all out and make it consistent.

Then I baked it according to the recipe.

You can easily see that it was too thin on the left side and pulled apart during baking. I also bumped the edge of the crust at the bottom there, when I was pulling it hot out of the oven.

Next time, I can imagine making a bit more of the "dough" mixture, so that the whole thing can be a bit thicker, especially up the sides.

While the crust cooled, I made the filling, which is the same as my great-great-grandmother's lemon pie filling, except I substituted lime juice and lime zest for the lemon in her recipe.

I started with two limes and zested them.

Don't wait to juice your limes. Get them juiced right away. Naked limes are not the most beautiful specimens!

Then I added the other ingredients, including the lime juice, corn starch and egg yolks and cooked it all on the stove, just as I did for the gluten-free lemon meringue pie, until it was thick and bubbly.

Warning: You might want to avert your eyes. 

I got a little hasty with the green food coloring. The color of my gluten-free key lime pie was better.

After cooking the filling, I poured it into my baked and cooled gluten-free graham cracker crust.

Doesn't this scream grasshopper pie to your eyes? It did to mine. But grasshopper is mint. This is not mint. Lime. This is lime. Lime. Lime lime lime.

I repeatedly tried to convince my brain that the color is representative of lime. I tried and tried.

It didn't work. It just looked wrong.

Quick! Make the meringue and cover it up! Yes, that's the solution!

So I did. Three egg whites and some sugar, whipped almost to oblivion, but not quite. We didn't want stiff peaks. Soft, little curlycues would be nice.

Voilà! Aren't those little, brown, marvelous, curled tips just simply beautiful?

Who would have thought that the light in my oven would produce better pictures than my overhead kitchen light? I'm making a note of it.

This pie turned out beautiful (once the green was hidden) and very tasty. Everyone really liked it. The filling held up perfectly when cut. Not too soft. Not too firm. Juuuuussssst right.

Personally, I found the gluten-free graham cracker crust to be a bit too sweet for my liking. I would back off the sugar mixed with the crumbs next time. I also might try adding one more egg white to the meringue, for more height and yumminess.

We will definitely be making this pie again. But for more people. This pie needs to be eaten right away.

Since we made this pie ahead of time, it sat for a bit. After cutting into it, it sat some more, since we couldn't polish it right off. Don't do this. Don't let this pie sit. Make it for a lot of people and get it eaten. Right away. The longer it sat, the more liquid started separating out of it. It still tasted fine, but it wasn't looking so hot the following day.

All in all, this was a success. We will make it again. Best of all, I absolutely loved the gluten-free graham crackers just for eating!

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