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Most of my friends and all of my family know that I was raised in a house without sugar. (Today this wouldn’t be a weird thing. But in the 70’s, it was weird and my mom was way ahead of her time.) No treats, no cakes, no normal sugary or overyly processed cereals or snacks etc etc etc. It was pretty extreme, and it was not fun. This is probably what has driven my sweet tooth over the years, because sugar was this glorious and amazing thing that my sister and I would have only on very rare occasions.
The only exception were our Holiday meals. I would look forward to the one and only “Family Recipe” my mom would pull out on Thanksgiving and Christmas, and it was this gloriously fluffy, and sweet concoction, filled with delicious marshmallows and lime Jell-O, cream cheese, pineapple, and pecans. What became known as the “Kreutzjans Family Green Jell-O Salad” is one of the only recipes I have from my mom. She was a decent cook and baker and was a genious with healthy clean eating, but because we didn’t have sugary treats, baking just wasn’t a thing she passed on to me. I’ve later found out her mom, my Grandmother Win, was a baker!
The Green Jell-O salad was so 70’s, set in its classic Tuperware mold, so funny and kitsch, and yet so comforting and delicious to me. I still make it every year, and it’s just not the holidays without it.
Fast forward to me being able to bake and make sweet things on my own when I moved out, and now years later, the more I experiment with my own recipes, I’ve wanted to turn that funny Jell-O salad into a more refined and from-scratch version of itself.
And so the Layered Lime Mousse Pie was born!! All the flavors of that funny Jell-O salad, but with a joyous layer of lime curd, and lime mousse, with the added extra crunch of the graham crust and pecan crumb crunch layer. No longer a funny or outdated Jell-O salad, this layered pie brings those flavors to life in a much more sophisticated way.
To be honest, it’s a little complicated, it has multiple processes, and it’s a little bit time intensive, but it is so worth the effort. You can break up the process in a couple of days so it’s not too long on one baking day, make the crust and crumb one day, make the curd the next, and the day before you serve it make the two mousses and chill over night. On the day you want to serve it, make the whipped cream toppping. OR, just do it all in one day. However you make it, it is so delicious! And no Lime Jell-O was used during the process! Goodbye 70’s Jell-O Salad. Hello, Gorgeous!
Layered Lime Mousse Pie with Pecan Crunch
5 hours, 40 minutes
- 9-inch deep dish pie pan
- food processor
- stand mixer with paddle and whisk attachment
- hand mixer
- large, medium, and small bowls
- half sheet baking tray or cookie sheet
- medium saucepan
- piping bags, offset spatula
- • 1 ¼ cup (168 g, or about 12 full rectangles out of the box) graham crackers, crushed
- • 3 tbsp (45 g) granulated sugar
- • ½ tsp kosher salt
- • 3 tbsp (37 g) unsalted butter, melted
- • 4 tbsp (72 g) pecan butter, melted (I made my own pecan butter by toasting 16 oz of fresh pecans, and then grinding until smooth in a blender)
- PECAN GRAHAM CRUMB LAYER:
- • ¾ cup (80 g) ground graham crackers
- • 2 tbsp (10 g) milk powder
- • 1 Tbsp (12 g) granulated sugar
- • ¼ tsp kosher salt
- • ¼ cup (38 g) chopped pecans
- • 2 tbsp (36 g) melted pecan butter
- • 2 tbsp (28 g) melted unsalted butter
- • 2 tbsp (30 g) heavy whipping cream
- LIME CURD LAYER:
- • Zest of 4 limes
- • ½ cup (128 g) fresh squeezed lime juice (might take 6 – 8 fresh limes)
- • 1 ½ cups (300 g) granulated sugar
- • ½ cup or 1 stick (113 g) unsalted butter, softened
- • 5 large eggs at room temperature
- • Pinch of kosher salt
- CREAM CHEESE PINEAPPLE MOUSSE LAYER:
- • 1 tsp unflavored gelatin
- • 2 tbsp cold water
- • ½ cup (4 oz. or 120 g) cream cheese (at room temperature)
- • Pinch of salt
- • 1 tbsp lime juice (or just juice of one lime)
- • ¼ cup (60 g) crushed (drained) pineapple
- • 1 cup (230 g) heavy whipping cream
- • ½ cup (50 g) powdered sugar
- LIME MOUSSE LAYER:
- • 1 tsp unflavored gelatin
- • 2 tbsp cold water
- • 2 cups heavy whipping cream
- • ½ cup (128 g) fresh squeezed lime juice
- • ¾ cup (75 g) powdered sugar
- • Optional, 3 – 5 drops of Light Green or Lime colored gel food coloring
- WHIPPED CREAM TOPPING LAYER:
- • 1 cup heavy cream
- • ¼ cup (25 g) powdered sugar
- • Garnish with leftover pecan crumb
- Preheat your oven to 350° F and place your rack in the middle of the oven.
- In the bowl of a food processor, combine 1 ¼ cups (168 g) graham crackers, 3 tbs (45 g) granulated sugar, and ½ tsp kosher salt. Pulse until finely crushed, set aside.
- In a separate bowl, mix together 3 tbsp (37 g) unsalted melted butter and 4 tbsp (72 g) melted pecan butter until well blended and homogenous. (have extra butter melted, just in case you need it)
- Pulsing the food processor, slowly add the pecan butter and melted butter to the graham cracker mixture and pulse until combined. Using your hand, grab a small amount and squeeze it together in your palm. If the clump stays intact, it’s good to go. If it doesn’t hold its shape, add a little more melted butter, a teaspoon at a time, until the same test creates a clump that doesn’t fall apart. A little more butter is better to help it hold its shape when cutting.
- In your 9-inch deep dish pie pan, press the mixture evenly into the bottom and up the sides. Using the flat side of a measuring cup or glass or a wooden tamper, or just your fingers, press until the crumb mixture is even and the same thickness all over. Using the flat side of your finger on the top edge while pressing the sides up, create a smooth crust edge all the way around.
- Place in the middle of the rack in your preheated oven and bake for 10 – 15 minutes, or until just barely starting to brown.
- Remove from oven and chill completely. This can be done ahead.
- Pecan Graham Crumb Layer:
- Preheat the oven to 300° F
- Combine ¾ cup (80 g) ground graham crackers, 2 tbsp (10 g) milk powder, 1 Tbsp (15 g) granulated sugar, and ¼ tsp kosher salt in the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment. Add 1/4 cup (38 g) chopped pecans, and mix in gentle.
- In a small bowl or measuring cup, mix 2 tbsp (36 g) melted pecan butter, 2 Tbsp (27 g) melted unsalted butter and 2 tbsp (27 g) heavy whipping cream together.
- With the mixer on low, drizzle the butter/cream mixture on the edge of the crumb mixture, creating clumps. Do not over-mix.
- Carefully pour the crumb mixture onto a parchment-lined baking tray.
- Bake on a sheet pan at 300°F for 25 min, or until just barely golden.
- Remove from oven and gently break it up into chunks. Let cool completely and set aside.
- Lime Curd Layer:
- In the bowl of your food processor, add 1 ½ cups (300 g) of granulated sugar and zest 4 limes directly into the food processor bowl.
- Pulse to process the sugar and zest, making the zest finely minced until it just disappears into the sugar and making the sugar fragrant.
- Squeeze the limes to make 1/2 cup of juice and set the juice aside.
- In the bowl of an electric stand mixer fitted with a paddle attachment, cream the butter with the sugar and lime zest.
- Add the eggs, 1 at a time, scraping after each.
- Then add ½ cup of lime juice and pinch of salt. Mix until combined.
- Transfer the mixture to a 2-quart saucepan and cook over direct low heat, stirring constantly, until thickened. The lime curd will thicken at about 175 degrees F, or just below a simmer. Remove from the heat and set aside.
- Fill your prepared pie crust with warm lime curd and allow it to set at room temperature. Once set, place in the refrigerator until cold and ready for the next layer. (This can be done one day ahead or the night before, but place a piece of plastic wrap directly on the curd to avoid it crusting over)
- Cream Cheese Pineapple Mousse Layer:
- In a small mixing bowl, add 2 tbsp cold water. Sprinkle 1 tsp of unflavored gelatin, and mix. Set aside to bloom.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer with a paddle attachment, add ½ cup (4 oz. or 120 g) cream cheese (at room temperature), a Pinch of salt, and 1 tbsp lime juice (or just juice of one lime). Mix to soften.
- Add ¼ cup (60 g) crushed pineapple, and blend briefly until mixed. Turn off the mixer.
- Take the small bowl of bloomed gelatin and place it in the microwave and heat briefly (for about 10 seconds, watching carefully!!) until melted and liquid.
- Add 1 cup (230 g) heavy whipping cream and ¼ cup powdered sugar and turn the mixer on medium to create soft peaks.
- Carefully and slowly drizzle the melted gelatin over the cream mixture, blending only until the gelatin is incorporated and mixed thoroughly. Do not over-mix.
- Add all mixture into a piping bag. Pipe all of the mixture over the cold and set lime curd layer, smoothly with an offset spatula.
- Sprinkle the Pecan Graham Crumb over the cream cheese mixture, leaving some for garnish. Set the extra/garnish aside.
- Cover gently with plastic wrap and refrigerate until cold and set.
- Lime Mousse Layer:
- Squeeze limes to make ½ cup fresh lime juice.
- In a small bowl, add 2 tbsp cold water and 1 tsp gelatin. Stir and set aside to bloom.
- In a small saucepan, add the lime juice and heat to almost boiling.
- Once the lime juice is simmering, remove from the heat. Add the bloomed gelatin and mix until dissolved.
- In the bowl of a stand mixer, whip the heavy cream and powdered sugar to very soft peaks which is still pourable. (Do not whip to stiff peaks.)
- With the mixer on low, continue whipping as you slowly drizzle the warm lime juice/gelatin mixture on the side as it whips. Do not over-whip.
- Add 3 – 5 drops of optional light green gel food coloring, mix until well blended and no streaks show.
- Fill a large piping bag with all of the mousse.
- Pipe all of the mousse over the entire crumb layer, smoothing the top with an offset spatula.
- Whipped Cream Topping Layer, and Finishing:
- With a hand mixer (or stand mixer with a watchful eye) whisk 1 cup (250 g) of heavy whipping cream in a large bowl until medium peaks form. Fold in ¼ cup (70 g) powdered sugar, then whip again very briefly until it holds medium peaks.
- Spoon, plop, dollop, or pipe a generous amount of whipped cream in the center of the pie. Sprinkle with any additional pecan crumb. Refrigerate for at least 2 hours, or overnight. Slice, serve, and enjoy!
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