A few weeks ago, I instagrammed a picture of this pie with some exciting news: my boyfriend Erlend had just been accepted to one of his first choices for graduate school!
I'm not sure what this acceptance means yet (that is, will we be moving to New York?), but I will say that I'm incredibly proud of him. Since we graduated, Erlend's been struggling to find a job and career track that he's enthusiastic and passionate about. Over the last year or so, I've seen him become more and more excited about his chosen field of study, talking my ear off with crazy facts about the human body learned from books, classes and his internship at the hospital. I now know far too much about how the different muscles in different parts of your body work, believe me.
To celebrate, we went out to dinner at Kachka, Portland's hip restaurant du jour, stuffing ourselves full of incredibly cheesy khachapuri and bowls of beef, pork, veal and onion dumplings. And even though Erlend's never had the world's biggest sweet tooth, I whipped him up this maple lime custard pie because it is my strong opinion that no celebration is complete without a decadent dessert:
Upon first bite, however, I was convinced. A maple custard on its own would have been far too sweet — the lime gave the custard a citrusy, tangy bite that balanced out the cloying sweetness and intensity of the Vermont maple syrup.
And with regards to the rest of the pie, I basically made no alterations to the cookbook's recipe. The pecan biscotti pie crust is the bakery's take on a traditional graham cracker crust, just with crushed ladyfingers and spruced up with some pecans. The only change I made was adding an extra layer of crème fraîche whipped cream on top of the custard, which I did only because Erlend has a fondness for especially tart desserts.
Congratulations again, Erlend!!!
Some baker's notes:
- As I briefly mentioned above, maple syrup in the United States comes in two grades: A and B. Grade A maple syrup is thinner and has a lighter flavor. Grade B is thicker with a richer and bolder flavor. Use Grade B maple syrup if you can! It makes a big difference.
- In a pinch, you can substitute the crème fraîche in this recipe with sour cream. The end result might be a little bit tarter though, so feel free to add in an additional teaspoon of granulated sugar.
- You can make the crust a few days in advance — simply wrap the crust in plastic wrap and store in the refrigerator until you're ready to use it. That actually might be the best way to do it, since it's easier to fill the crust when it's cold.
- 2 1/2 ounces ladyfingers (about 8 cookies)
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 cup pecan pieces
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted and cooled slightly
- 1/2 cup sour cream
- 1/4 cup granulated sugar
- freshly grated zest from 1/2 lime
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 4 large eggs
- 1 large egg yolk
- 1 cup maple syrup (preferably Grade B)
- 1/3 cup fresh lime juice (from about 3 limes)
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
(makes one 9-inch pie crust)
- 1/4 cup heavy cream
- 2 teaspoons granulated sugar
- 1/2 cup crème fraîche
- freshly grated lime zest, for garnishing
For the Pecan Biscotti Crust:
- Use your hands to break 2 1/2 ounces ladyfingers into smaller pieces into the bowl of a food processor fitted with a blade attachment. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons granulated sugar and 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt over the broken pieces. Pulse in short bursts until the ladyfingers turn into fine crumbs. Add 1/2 cup pecan pieces and process until the mixture is homogenous. Add the melted butter and process until just combined.
- Pour the crumbs into an ungreased 9-inch pie pan. Use your hands to spread the crumbs evenly throughout the 9-inch pie pan, before using your fingers to press the crumbs evenly onto the bottom and up the sides of the pan. You can use a small shot glass or a nifty pie tamper to smooth out any bumps. Transfer the pie pan to the freezer and freeze until solid, at least 10 minutes.
- While the crust is freezing, center a rack in the oven and preheat to 375 (F).
- Once the crust is frozen and the oven is preheated, place the pie pan containing the crust on a rimmed baking sheet and bake on the center oven rack for about 14 minutes, until lightly browned. If the crust slumps or cracks while baking, you can use a kitchen towel to gently push the crumbs back into place. Cool completely on a wire rack, before refrigerating the crust for 10 minutes prior to filling to set the crumbs.
- First, prepare your crust by refrigerating for at least 10 minutes.
- Position a rack in the center of the oven and preheat to 325 (F).
- In a medium bowl, whisk together 1/2 cup sour cream, 1/4 cup granulated sugar, freshly grated zest from 1/2 lime and 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt until well combined. Whisk in 4 large eggs and 1 large egg yolk one at a time, only adding the next egg when the previous one has been fully incorporated. Whisk in 1 cup maple syrup, 1/3 cup fresh lime juice and 1/4 cup heavy cream until the mixture is homogenous.
- Place the chilled pie crust in the center of a rimmed baking sheet. Carefully pour the filling into the pie shell. Bake in the preheated oven for 20 minutes, before rotating the baking sheet 180 degrees and continuing to bake for another 15 to 20 minutes. The pie is finished when the edges are set and puffed slightly, and the center is no longer liquid but still wobbly. You can test this by using a butter knife to gently tap the pie plate and watching the custard. DO NOT OVERBAKE — doing so will separate the custard. The filling will continue to cook and set after the pie is removed from the oven. Allow to cool completely on a wire rack, before topping with the crème fraîche whipped cream.
- In the bowl of a freestanding electric mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, combine 1/4 cup heavy cream and 2 teaspoons granulated sugar. Whip on medium-high speed until soft peaks form. Use a rubber spatula to fold in 1/2 cup crème fraîche until just blended.
- Spoon the whipped cream over the top of the pie, and garnish with fresh lime zest. Serve immediately.