Lovely Limes

April 10, 2009

If you give me the choice of a lemon or a lime, I’ll likely choose the lime every time. This goes for the twist I put in my sparkling water as well as for flavors in desserts.

I just happen to be in the world’s most perfect place for a lime lover. I might mention that this is a good thing since there are no lemons where we live in Brazil.

I’m not sure about other areas of the country, but most people here really aren’t familiar with lemon. Many of the (Brazilian) English teachers we have met translate limão to lemon, but this is not correct. Limão is a lime, not a lemon so we try to clear up this confusion when we get the chance.

My appreciation for the lovely limes here came to mind on Wednesday night as I shopped at the local farmer’s market in town. Many of the vendors there sell a variety of items. For example, a booth that has lettuce will also have carrots and herbs. However, there is this one particular booth manned by an older couple and the product they offer is limes, just limes.

These are some of the largest, brightest limes I’ve ever come across. I buy from them every week and I am amazed each time they place my bag on the scale and tell me the price. This week I paid 30 centavos for these limes. That is less than fifteen cents. Fifteen cents for five beautiful limes! That is a far cry from the 44 cents each I saw on my last trip in the US.

I’m typically a lover of rich and heavy desserts, but I have found since being around all this fresh lime juice my dessert preferences here in Brazil are very different. I love the variety of desserts using lime and my favorite is the Torta de Limão, Lime Pie. It’s sort of like a Key Lime pie, yet that still doesn’t adequately describe it. It is something that I will likely always associate with Brazil.

There is a catch, though. I have had Torta de Limão that I didn’t care for. As you probably guessed, this dessert calls for sweetened condensed milk (what would a dessert in Brazil be without it?). Some varieties use too much milk and not enough lime for my tastes. I like that tart, almost bitter flavor and prefer that the sweet flavor doesn’t take over.

One of my favorites has been the one I’m picturing here. An individual serving we picked up at a local bakery. So no, I didn’t make this, but I did take the photo. Isn’t it beautiful?

The truth is, I’ve never made Torta de Limão, or at least I haven’t yet. I do, however, have the recipe.

After just a few months of living here a girl in town contacted me through my ex-pat blog. She taught at an English school, it was Thanksgiving time and she wanted a recipe for pumpkin pie. I was happy to help, but secretly wanted something of my own out of the deal. I asked her for a recipe for Torta de Limão.

She shared with me her recipe for Lime Mousse. This is the filling for the pie and can be eaten by itself if you so desire. To turn it into pie form, use your favorite pie crust and bake it through. Add this filling, and then you can top it with meringue. Pop it in the oven to brown or dry the meringue and there you have it. It is similar to any meringue topped pie although served room temperature or cold.

I should mention that here, they often use a packaged whipping cream instead of the beaten egg whites. This browns up nicely and is creamier, but I really don’t know what the equivalent would be in the US. I’m not sure if whipped cream would brown up/harden or not.

Also, aside from this little one I’ve showed you, the torta I have come across here don’t resemble pie in the US. The crust is typically made in a tart pan so the whole dessert is rather flat and thin, not like our deep dish pies in the States.

Mousse de Limão

1 can of sweetened milk
1 can of creme de leite (Her description: “It’s like sour cream but less sour.” I’m not sure we have an equivalent in the States. Maybe crème fraiche?)
1 cup of fresh lime juice (about 4 limes)

Mix in a blender until gains a firm appearance. It can be refrigerated before eaten or use it to put together your own Torta de Limão.

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  • VeggieGirl April 10, 2009 at 7:37 am

    I prefer limes over lemons too – they’re nice & tangy without being too sour.

    Great recipe!!

  • Erica April 10, 2009 at 7:45 am

    My husband is a HUGE key lime pie fan! I know he would probably love all of the delicious lime desserts you have been tasting! The one pictured is beautifuL!

  • kat April 10, 2009 at 11:15 am

    Those lines look gorgeous & huge!

  • Jamie April 10, 2009 at 10:34 pm

    This tart looks wonderful! It really is beautiful! I bet that lime mousse is fabulous, too. I just discovered that my local Asian market has gorgeous, juicy limes for cheap, so this may be the recipe I try!

  • Rowena April 11, 2009 at 1:56 am

    To live next to a bakery that creates delights like that!!! (why is my heart racing at this moment?) ;-D

    Just a quick stopover to wish you a Happy Easter as well. 🙂

  • Reeni♥ April 11, 2009 at 8:41 am

    I just recently discovered how much I like limes. They seem less harsh than lemons. I tried Key Lime pie for the first time and loved it. I would love to try your recipe!

  • Michelle @ Find Your Balance Health April 11, 2009 at 10:05 am

    Gorgeous! I’m not a big lime fan, but when we were in the Keys and had key lime pie there it was terrific. Really, no lemons in Brazil?? Huh.

  • Ricki April 11, 2009 at 4:38 pm

    Oh, my gosh. . .that sounds like pure heaven!

  • Tangled Noodle April 11, 2009 at 7:54 pm

    I can’t believe those prices! We buy a lot of limes b/c we love to make caipirinhas but we’re happy if they’re available for 30 cents each. This recipe sounds great and something I will definitely make. The creme de leite sounds a lot like Nestle Table Cream in a can that is used in some Filipino desserts. I’m not sure if they’re in regular groceries but I’m positive I’ve seen them in Asian stores. I check it out!

  • Sapuche April 11, 2009 at 10:30 pm

    Ah, lime is such a refreshingly tart fruit, and it goes great in so many dishes, sweet and savory. I’m amazed at how cheap they sell for, and I encourage you to take advantage of them while you have them available to you! That torta de limao, by the way, looks incredible. I’d love to get my hands on one of those…at least one. Thanks for this interesting post!

  • Lori April 12, 2009 at 9:12 am

    Veggiegirl and Reeni – Glad to hear there are some more lime fans out there!

    Erica – I used to never go for Key Lime pie and then a few years ago I started loving it. You husband would really like this for sure.

    kat – They are so beautiful and fresh!

    Jamie – Give it a try. It is really refreshing, yet also rich and sweet. An interesting combo.

    Michelle – I haven’t been able to figure out the status of lemons in other parts of the country, but I haven’t found them in any recipes. There is a large Italian population further south so I’m not sure if they have brought lemon influences with them or embraced the lime.

    Ricki – Oh, I assure you, it is! 🙂

    Tangled Noodle – I bet that is the same thing. I think Nestle makes a version here as well. So good to know for when I try these recipes back home. I’ll have to check out an Asian market there sometime.

    Sapuche – Yes, it is a great option to get the small single serving tortas. Ha! A whole one could be bad news in our house. 🙂

  • Daily Spud April 12, 2009 at 2:27 pm

    I think I would mostly tend to choose lime over lemons myself and I am so jealous of your access to cheap, lovely looking limes. The ones we get here in Ireland – imported from goodness-knows-where – are often small and produce very little juice, whereas decent lemons seem much easier to come by. I keep buying the limes, though!

  • Heather April 12, 2009 at 7:13 pm

    i really adore limes, too. they have a much more mellow flavor. not that i don’t adore lemons, too, but i’m definitely a lime fan. those are so beautiful and photogenic, and i totally want to try this recipe! it sounds amazing!