Jul 5, 2011

Frozen Lime Pies with Gluten-Free Graham Cracker Crust

Pie seems like the perfect dessert for celebrating July 4th. Shauna James Ahern, of Gluten-Free Girl and the Chef, threw out an invitation to bakers and bloggers for a pie party today — to celebrate the fruits of summer by baking a pie and posting about it today. Over 1,000 people signed up! Take a look around the blogosphere today and get inspired to make your own pie. Also, check out #pieparty on Twitter.

Key lime pie has always been one of my favorites. When I saw that local jam-making extraordinaire Confituras had some lime curd at their farmers market table this weekend, I started thinking tart and tangy lime was the way to go.

I've always loved key lime pie with a sandy graham cracker crust. But the gluten-free graham crackers I've seen in the store are full of gums that make my head or tummy unhappy. So I first set about baking gluten-free graham crackers with Shauna's recipe. Note, Shauna is now baking without gums as well, but this is an older recipe where she used xanthan and guar gum. I substituted chia seeds instead and they worked very well. Chia seeds are good for you. They are high in Omega-3 fatty acids and unlike flax seeds, they don't have to be ground for your body to access their nutrients. They also keep longer than flax without becoming rancid. Chia seeds form a thickening gel when wet that is a good substitute for gluten as a binder to keep your baked goods from falling apart. Learn more about chia seeds here.

I've always loved the comforting, homey flavor of graham crackers. But I have to say, these are better than any graham cracker I've had before. They are a little lighter in color than the store-bought crackers I grew up with. But they have a much fuller, rounder flavor than those. Since I was using these in a crust, I wanted the flavor to compliment the lime pie I was planning to make. So I reduced the cinnamon and added a bit of brown sugar to Shauna's recipe. This recipe makes enough for a regular nine-inch pie or four five-inch tarts, with a few cookies left over for chef treats. Next time, I'll be making at least a double, if not triple, batch of these. They were that good. It's feels like such a treat to rediscover an old favorite like graham crackers that I haven't had since going gluten-free. And these are so much better. Thanks, Shauna! These would also be really good to make ice cream sandwiches with.

For the filling, I had the Confituras lime curd. I have had this lime curd and their Meyer Lemon curd before, so I knew what a treasure it is. (I made Meyer Lemon curd tartelettes with gluten-free shortbread crust here.)

The Confituras lime curd is a perfect balance of tangy, tart and sweet. It's very challenging not eat it all straight from the jar. Having the curd already made gave me a shortcut (and less time over a hot stove in Austin's triple-digit heat — can I get an amen?) If you want to make your own lime curd, I would recommend this recipe from David Lebovitz.

Given the Texas heat, a frozen pie held great appeal. So I looked to Emily Luchetti's frozen key lime pie recipe. In her recipe, you combine lime curd with whipped cream for the filling and freeze it before adding another layer of whipped cream on top to serve. Simple. And so refreshing.

Note: I realized after writing this that I made a major faux pas. I used a scale for measuring the graham cracker ingredients, but I used cup measures for the filling and topping. So sorry to be inconsistent. But in making the transition to gluten-free baking, I've come to rely on my scale more and more. Different flours can vary widely when using cup measures. You're much more likely to get a good result in gluten-free baking if you use a scale. Next time I make this, I'll measure out the filling and topping ingredients and add those measurements here in ounces.

Frozen pies

Gluten-free graham crackers:
1 teaspoon chia seeds
2 teaspoons hot water
2 1/2 ounces sorghum flour
2 1/2 ounces superfine brown rice flour (I use Authentic Foods)
2 1/2 ounces tapioca flour
2 1/2 ounces sweet rice flour
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 1/2 ounces (7 tablespoons) unsalted butter, cold
3 ounces honey
2 ounces brown sugar
3 to 6 tablespoons cold water

Place chai seeds in a small bowl with hot water and stir together to combine. This will form a gel. Set aside.

In a food processor, combine flours, cinnamon, baking powder and salt. Process to combine.

Cut the cold butter into small chunks (about 1/2 tablespoon each) and put in the processor with the flours. Process in pulses until the butter is incorporated and becomes sandy and pebbly like cornmeal.

In a small bowl, combine the honey and three tablespoons of cold water. Add chia seed paste and stir together until uniform. Add this to the processor and whiz together for two to three minutes to combine. You're looking for the dough to turn into a ball. If necessary, add a little more water, a tablespoon at a time, until it forms a ball.

Remove the dough from the processor, put in a covered container and refrigerate for at least 15 minutes.

When you're ready to bake, preheat the oven to 325 degrees.

Take out half of your dough and place it on a piece of parchment paper. Place another piece of parchment over the top and roll it out between the layers of parchment — this will keep it from sticking. Roll it to about 1/4-inch thickness. Cut into pieces or with cutters. Place on a cookie sheet and bake for 15-20 minutes. (I baked the first half batch on a silpat-lined cookie sheet and the second batch on an unlined cookie sheet and both did fine. No sticking.)

Remove from oven and let cool completely and allow to firm up for at least 30 minutes.

Repeat with remaining dough on another cookie sheet.

For graham cracker crust:
10 ounces graham crackers (about 2 cups + 2 tablespoons)
pinch salt
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup unsalted butter, melted

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Whiz cookies in food processor until you get uniform crumbles with no large pebbles.

Add salt and brown sugar to processor and pulse to combine.

Add melted butter and whiz together until butter is uniformly incorporated and texture is sandy and damp.

Pour out into a 9-inch pie pan or a bowl (if you're going to divide it into little pies or tarts, like I did).

Press crust into pan with your fingers firmly and evenly.

Bake for 10 minutes until golden. Remove from oven and let cool completely. (I mean completely. It should be cool, not warm to the touch.)

Frozen lime pie filling:
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1 tablespoon sugar
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
8 ounces lime curd (I recommend Confituras)

Whip cream with sugar and vanilla until peaks form.

Gently, fold in lime curd. You want to get it uniformly combined but not deflate the whipped cream. (Here's a video on how to fold, if you want a primer.)

Pour the filling into the crust. Freeze for at least four hours.

For serving:
3/4 cup heavy whipping cream
zest of one lime (preferably organic)

Whip cream until peaks form, and dollop on top of each slice of pie (or tart) and sprinkle with lime zest.

Gluten-free graham crackers adapted from Shauna James Ahern, from her Gluten-Free Girl and the Chef blog. Filling recipe adapted from Emily Luchetti's A Passion for Ice Cream.


Shelley said...

Your pie looks terrific! And with Stephanie's lime curd, I can only imagine how delicious it is. Looks like you're really getting the hang of GF baking. So chia seeds, huh? I'll have to check that out.

Shreeja N said...

Yummy recipe idea! I always try to bake something different for my 5yr old son. Will try this out for sure!