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Key Lime – Vanilla Pie

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My recent trip to Costa Rica was fortuitous in several respects, not the least of which was that one of my favorite tropical fruits was in season and I indulged myself at every opportunity. There are three varieties of passion fruit; the variety I had in Costa Rica is the same as lilikoi in Hawaii. It is a tart fruit but with the lovely underlying flavor of passion fruit. Called Maracuya in Latin America, it is made into a refreshing beverage served icy cold as well as a rich, creamy pie. It occurred to me as I ate a piece, that the recipe was either similar to, or the same as, the one I use for Key Lime pie.

I say Key Lime pie loosely as the small, sour limes, known as limones in Mexico, are often difficult to find in the US, so I usually substitute Persian limes, and I suspect that most cooks also do this unless they live in Florida or get lucky. My plan was to return home, find some passion fruit puree and make my own version of this delicious pie.

The closest I came to success was Bev-Mo where they had passion fruit syrup. Hopeful, I found the bottle and read the ingredients: Cane sugar, corn syrup, natural flavors, and a long list of preservatives and dyes. Nope. Natural flavors these days translates to flavors created in a chemistry lab. If you question this, I suggest you look at vanilla ice cream packaging. You will often see no listing for vanilla extract, but rather, natural flavors. Imitation vanilla with an alias.

Eventually I purchased some limes and made this pie. Although my heart was set on passion fruit, when I made this lime pie with distinctly vanilla notes I was again reminded of how much I like it and how refreshing it is at the end of a meal. This could even be the perfect dessert for a New Year’s Eve gathering.

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Patricia Rain
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Patricia Rain

is an author, educator, culinary historian, and owner of The Vanilla Company (www.vanillaqueen.com), a socially conscious, product-driven information and education site dedicated to the promotion of pure, natural vanilla, and the support of vanilla farmers worldwide. She also does culinary presentations for food professionals, cooking schools, trade shows, food fairs, and private groups, and is a regular radio and TV guest.
Patricia Rain
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