I developed a serious key lime pie habit in college. I was living on Block Island for the summer, and working as a waitress in the evenings. After a long, exhausting shift in the restaurant, sweaty and tired from running in and out of a hot kitchen, I would take the longer route home so I could pass a tiny hole-in-the-wall Thai restaurant. Perched above the harbor, the restaurant is run by a Maine native with a taste for excellent flat noodles, pad Thai, and oddly enough, key lime pie (a man after my own heart!). I'd order noodles and a huge slice of pie to go and cap off my meal with a handful of spicy, chewy ginger candies from a bowl on the hostess stand.
I've yet to find such a good piece of pie (I think it's one of those food memories where my weary, hungry state of mind tinted the meal with such vibrancy that nothing will match it). But a close contender has appeared in a very unexpected place: a vegan spot in Manhattan. The restaurant makes all sorts of raw desserts (which I have always been skeptical of -- I mean, BUTTER guys, come on), but their pie is habit-forming.
Avocados give it a creamy, luscious texture. Properly mixed, the filling has a light, mousse-like consistency and the flavor is tart and fruity, just like the best key lime pie. You don't taste the avocado, and just a small amount of lime juice and zest is enough to impart a wallop of citrus. The crust is a blend of nuts, coconut oil and dates. It's simple and comes together in a flash, with no need for an oven or fussing over finicky shrinking tart shells.
RAW KEY LIME PIE
Adapted lightly from Peacefood Cafe, NYC
2 1/2 cups almonds (or a mix of almonds and walnuts)
1/8 cup coconut oil
1/3 cup dates, pitted
pinch of salt
1/2 cup coconut oil
1 cup cashews, soaked overnight
1/2 cup agave nectar
4 limes, zested and juiced
pinch of salt
To make the crust, pulse all ingredients in a food processor until it forms a coarse meal and begins to come together. Press into a 9 inch tart or pie pan and refrigerate while you make the filling.
To make the filling, blend the cashews, agave nectar and coconut oil in a food processor until smooth. Add the avocados, lime juice, lime zest and salt and blend until airy and smooth.
Spoon the filling into the crust. Refrigerate until firm, at least 2 hours.