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Florida Keys Bake-Off

Last month Florida Keys & Key West hosted a special Masterclass Key Lime Pie Chef Event, where we had the opportunity to make our own Key lime pie (the signature dessert of the Florida Keys & Key West). To have it judged by Key West author, artist and Key Lime pie expert David Sloan for a chance to win a trip to the Florida Keys and other prizes. And this is that recap post.

I was invited to this intimate cooking class to learn how to bake authentic key lime pie from an original recipe, invented in Florida Keys. And seeing as Joyce of @vanfoodies and I were out before, I invited her along for the experience. Little did we know this wasn’t any baking class, the stakes were high with a chance to win a trip to Florida Keys, to try the real deal key lime pie for ourselves.

Our class was held at Dirty Apron and as guests came in, we were invited to mix and mingle with glasses of sparkling wine and/or white or red. Plus small bites from the Dirty Apron’s kitchen.

There were prawn tacos, a scallop and salsa crisp, and a cheese and meat charcuterie board to graze on.

When time, we were invited to grab our drinks and head into the kitchen work space. There, we were introduced to all things key lime in Florida, a dessert that was popular for over 100 years. Recapping the history of the famous pie starting from the 1800’s.

We even got to video conference with a Chef from Florida, who has been baking key lime pies for over 30 years. His is one of the most popular versions of this name sake pie, which is his grandmother’s recipe from the 50’s. His is the bakery that the winners of this competition would be visiting.

He then walked us through how to recreate his recipe. And to summarize you combine 4 egg yolks with 2 cans of condense milk. Then whisk in half a cup of key lime juice and rum concentrate. Here, they recommend Kermit’s key lime juice, highlighting it is best to use a yellow key lime. Once mixed you pour custard into a crust and bake at 325 for 25 minutes. Once out of the oven and allowed to cool, you can top your pie with cream and fresh fruit.

We were then given free rein of our individual kitchen unit, to recreate what we had just learned, adding our own twist to the classic key lime recipe. Joyce and I we decided to team up and win the prize together.

Knowing that our pies would be judged on taste, presentation, and originality we devised our plan. Asking questions and learning about our judges a little more, and what they were looking for. Instead of using a pre-made crust I made us one from scratch with graham cracker crumb, shredded coconut, melted butter, and Cool Whip. And Joyce gave us a classic custard filling.

Where we got creative was with our toppings. I baked us a Florida and Florida Keys shaped graham topping for our pie.

Joyce and I concocted a sparkling wine and black pepper meringue to serve with it. And we finished it off with a border of strawberries and a drizzle of red wine chocolate sauce.

Then one by one each competitor brought their pies up to the judges to be tasted and scored. Ours came with a rich backstory and lengthy explanation. The judges would later tell us that ours was the only one they took two bites out of.

Long story short, and to not draw out the suspense, Joyce and I won! Our pie was declared the best and deserving of a 4 nights and 5 days trip to Florida Keys, for us to schedule and plan with the tourism board.

So for now the story ends here, and will pick up when we travel to The Keys. Stay tuned!

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