This week I’m switching gears from lemons to limes. A five pound bag of Persian limes from Costco has a way of providing inspiration. Unlike the slightly floral/herbal flavor of Key limes, Persian limes are more assertive, announcing themselves with bracing TMZ tartness. Key limes have a strong following amongst highfalutin pastry chefs for their distinctive flavor. They are less popular amongst the humble pastry chef forced to squeeze the juice out of the tiny green gems. In this area I speak from experience, which is why my go-to Key lime juice is provided by the famous Nellie and Joe of Key West, Florida. It is available in a comfortable 16 oz. bottle for home bakers and in a gallon size jug for professionals.
Don’t get me wrong. I thoroughly enjoyed my days in the Key lime pie sun. A Slice of Heaven walked the red carpet of dessert celebs with that pie, serving up more slices than I care to remember. That continues to be my go-to lime pie recipe, tucked into a graham cracker crust, dressed up with whipped cream and pinwheels of lime slices.
Every now and again however, I wander over to the Persian lime side and a recipe from the Stella Notte days. Those were the days of filling hotel pans with tiramisu and squeezing Key limes by hand. It was where I honed my crunchy biscotti skills and turned out anise-scented waffle cookies on a vintage (yet earnestly hot) pizzelle iron. It is also where I learned the value of swapping graham crackers for amaretti cookies in a pie crust.
Gussied up in brightly colored wrappers, Amaretti cookies could have been dressed by Bob Mackie. Toss a few handfuls of almonds into the mix, and you end up with a deeply flavored crust, the perfect vessel for a tart lime filling. A swirl of toasty meringue and jewel-toned raspberries make this a dessert worthy of an Oscar nod.
If we weren’t handling sharp knives and hot ovens, the gracious thing to do with my surplus limes would be to mix-up a pitcher of fresh lime cocktails. I could share the libation with my cronies circling the Baker’s bench. But we will all be left to our own devices on Sunday night, watching the movers and shakers from various locations. I can’t vouch for the rest of Team Butter, but I can guarantee that I will not be wearing Harry Winston; more likely a fine dusting of King Arthur and Persian lime No. 5.