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.