For instance, it calls for six egg yolks in the filling and a 4-inch-tall, sugar-sweetened meringue topping. I’ve tweaked her recipe many times in experiments that were disastrous (why would you add chocolate or blueberries?) or successful (two egg yolks aren’t enough, and four are one too many).
It’s been lightened up by folding beaten egg whites into the filling before baking, forming a built-in meringue that melds with the filling and makes it far less dense. Also, the filling is spiked with a whisper of vanilla extract. A graham cracker crust is a must (for tradition and texture contrast), but with additions.
This pie is like that slightly eccentric aunt you see once a year during the holidays. She seems to be a sweetie at first, then quickly surprises everyone with her puckery side – but in a good way.
While on the subject of holiday pies, let’s take note of what the American Pie Council tells us about ourselves: It reports that 47 percent of Americans associate the concept of “comforting” with eating pie, and that “one in five Americans” has eaten a whole pie “by themselves.” Fork or spoon?
Lastly: In the children’s book “Babar on Paradise Island” by French author-illustrator Laurent de Brunhoff, the elephant Babar (king of Elephant Land), his elephant family and “their friend the Old Lady” are stranded on a tropical island after their yacht runs aground. One illustration shows the smiling group eating slices of yellow pie. The text reads: “With eggs, lime juice and condensed milk saved from the boat, the Old Lady made them a key lime pie.”
KEY LIME PIE (serves 6 to 8)
For the filling:
2 cans Eagle brand sweetened condensed milk
1 cup (and a possible drizzle)