Hasty, tasty results for Kate's key lime pie

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Key lime pie is Kate's specialty, though she's the sort who only tiptoes toward the oven if her homework is done, her mom is on hand and her gecko's been fed. She relies on the classic construction: bottle, box and can.

Inspired by Kate, I aim for a pie that's tart and true. I start by dispensing with bottle, box and can.

Snubbing the pre-squeeze, I slice open a lime and twist it against the juicer, yielding one drip. The Key lime is about as big, and hard, as the pingpong ball. To squeeze ½ cup juice, I crush 25 pingpong balls. My stinging fingers beg for a break. Maybe to pet the gecko.

Ignoring the graham crackers, I try crust creativity — butter pastry; crushed pecan; gingersnap. Too short, too soggy, too spicy. I wonder if the gecko likes leftovers.

Now to muddle through the middle. Key lime pie gets its wiggle from the alchemy of citrus meeting condensed milk. Still, I harbor doubts about milk trapped in a can. I try alternatives — cream, which sogs; custard, which curdles; caramel, which works, after a 90-minute workout.

I invite Kate and her mom to taste test. Kate bites and asks: "Do we have to finish?"

Later, when even the gecko is asleep, I try Kate's recipe. And admire the hasty, tasty results.

Key lime pie

Prep: 45 minutes

Bake: 15 minutes

Cool: 3 hours

Serves: 8

Shell:

1 ¼ cups crushed graham crackers

5 tablespoons melted butter

3 tablespoons sugar

Filling:

4 egg yolks

1 ¼ cups sweetened condensed milk (one 14-ounce can)*

2 teaspoons finely grated lime zest

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