With a name like Ariel it's not difficult to understand my affinity to mermaids. Only born a few months before The Little Mermaid was released, the name comparison has been a part of my life since I can remember. I can't say I really mind it. Mermaids are kind of magical.
A few years back, Kerry Russell starred in a wonderful, slightly-offbeat movie titled "Waitress." In it she was famous for making pies, one of which was referred to as "mermaid pie." While her pastel-marshmallow dessert looked slightly revolting to me, it got me thinking... If a mermaid ate a pie, what kind of pie would she eat?
Realistically, a mermaid would probably eat fish pie but that just sounded disgusting so I tried to get a little more imaginative.
Kelp pie? That'd be a bust.
I moved on to sea salt. Lime was an easy next step. I wanted to keep this on a tropical, Caribbean-influenced kind of note when dreaming up this pie and knew coconut had to be involved somehow. Maybe booze? Yes. Definitely booze. After all, would something Caribbean really be Caribbean without rum? Doubt it. I may or may not have gotten carried away with this imaginary mermaid.
After downing a few spoonfuls of rum-spiked meringue, my Mermaid Pie ended up being a buttery, coconut graham cracker crust, key lime curd filling, and coconut rum meringue. Toasted. Obvi.
I imagined mermaids wouldn't take a lot of time baking up a layer cake or spend hours waiting for ice cream to chill but this pie? It only takes a couple hours, all steps considered. Now that's something a laid-back mer-creature can handle.
Coconut Graham Crust:
- 12 full graham crackers
- 3/4 cup shredded, sweetened coconut
- 1/4 cup sugar
- 6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- pinch of salt
Preheat oven to 350° and prepare 9" pie pan with Baking Pam.
In a food processor, grind 12 graham crackers until crumbly and fine. Add in coconut flakes and sugar and process for another 30 to 60 seconds.
Add in melted butter and process for 30 seconds or until crumb mixture is slightly moist. Press into greased pie pan with the back of a measuring cup making sure to push up the crust onto the sides. Prick bottom of coconut graham crust with a fork to prevent air bubbles from forming while you bake. As a habit from childhood, I always fork in an "A."
Bake crust on 350° for 12 minutes or until golden brown. If you've got a gas oven like me, keep a close eye on this as to not let it burn.
Remove crust from oven and set aside.
Key Lime Curd:
- zest of 6 small key limes
- 2 cups sugar
- 10 tablespoons unsalted butter, room temperature
- 6 egg yolks (keep whites for meringue!)
- 2 eggs
- 3/4 lime juice
- 1 teaspoon sea salt, crushed
With paddle attachment, blend together lime zest and sugar in a stand mixer. Gradually add in room temperature butter and cream until pale and fluffy. This should take about 5 to 6 minutes.
Add in egg yolks slowly, followed by eggs. Mixture should be somewhat thick. Beat for 2 minutes on medium high speed.
Scrape down the edges and bottom of mixing bowl and add in lime juice. Mix on medium low speed until fully combined.
Transfer lime to a 3 quart saucepan and cook on medium low for ten minutes or until the curd starts to thicken. Make sure to continually stir to prevent egg from cooking on the sides and to keep the curd homogenous. Once mixture is thickened, remove from heat and set aside to cool for about 20 minutes.
Pour slightly cooled curd into cooled graham cracker crust and sprinkle lightly with crushed sea salt.
Coconut Rum Meringue:
- 6 egg whites (left over from curd)
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 1 tablespoon coconut rum (such as Malibu)
Before whipping egg whites in stand mixer, wipe your bowl and whisk down with a vinegar soaked paper towel. This will remove any excess oil or residue that causes meringue to deflate. Once your bowl is oil free, whip egg whites on medium high speed for 7 to 10 minutes or until stiff peaks form. Beat in sugar and beat for another 1 to 2 minutes. Splash in coconut rum and beat for about 30 seconds. You can add more to taste. Or take a swig. What ever you fancy. Meringue is done when stiff peaks form like so:
Spoon whipped meringue onto your assembled key lime base. Swirl until you are satisfied with the result. If you'd like you could used a frosting spatula to create a smooth top. I chose to go for a frothier, sea-foam inspired look but it's totally up to you!
Next, broil meringue in oven on high for about 5 minutes or until the top is nice and toasty. If you have a crème brulée torch, you could use that as well. Not only will broiling/torching the top of your meringue give it a pretty color, but it will help the meringue to set and make it easier to transport.
Set your pie on a wire rack to cool for about an hour, then refrigerate for four hours or overnight before diving into your Mermaid Pie!