Now then, I also made Splenda meringue, which is a strange substance. I pre-baked the crusts yesterday, and those little bastards cracked a bit and shrunk a bit, though not as bad as usual. I employed a new tactic I learned from a cookbook, of all things! Fit pie crust with aluminum foil, fill foil with dried beans, bake 10 - 15 minutes, remove foil and beans, poke holes in crust, continue cooking 10 - 15 minutes. Nice results, pain in the ass process.
Now then... I did not, it would seem, condense my artificially sweetened condensed milk enough. The pies were soupy long after they should have set. Further, I did not make enough filling for the shells, so the pies are half empty. (Half full, if you're an optimist.) This brings us to the meringue, which held its shape well but doesn't look very pretty. At least it filled up the empty parts of the pie shells.
Let me explain to you the darker side of key lime pie. Ever zested a lime? No fun. Ever zested a key lime? Imagine, if you will, zesting a cherry tomato or a ping pong ball. There's hardly anywhere to hold it, it takes forever, and you have to do it a zillion times to get any damned zest. I zested nine key limes, and I zested the hell out of them. I got about five teaspoons of zest. Then I juiced the little bastards and only got a quarter cup of juice. I supplemented with the juice of a regular Persian lime (the big seedless ones you're used to) and a bit of lemon juice. My hands hurt from the juicing and the zesting.
If you will indulge me, please take a gander at this picture. These are the little pies I made. I did not take a picture of the big pie I made in a charmingly simple store-bought shortbread crumb crust. Ahhh! Just make your filling, pour, and bake. Comes out lovely. But I digress: on to the picture!
Look how that little fella in the front has bubbled up! The crusts are rising from the pans. In what state does this indicate the filling must be?! (Kansas, I think.) I know I've said it before, and I'm sure I'll say it again, but these must be the ugliest pies I've made to date. I do bake ugly ... ugly pies.
As for the crusts, they were a bitch, as usual. BUT rolling them out with a marble rolling pin on a marble pastry board was sweeeeet! That they stuck at all is a testament to my ability to screw up pie. For them to work as well as they did in the humidity of my kitchen (what with the misery of preheating) is a minor miracle.
That's the pie update. I'm going to go drink so beer now.