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Walker serves up avocado key lime pie treat

Food For Thought
By Deborah Lee Walker | Jun 22, 2017

(June 23, 2017) I was reading The Washington Post’s food section and an article about incorporating avocados into desserts caught my eye.

Apparently this is a trend that is gaining popularity and my curiosity confined me to a state of exploration. But as I started to delve into this particular culinary fashion, I asked myself how much do I really know about avocados? Basics take precedence before advancement can come to conclusion. On that note, a quick review is necessary.

Americans have a tendency to categorize avocados as vegetables, but in reality they are deemed a fruit, more specifically a single-seeded berry. A fruit is a matured ovary of a flower. Fruits consist of a tough outer layer (the skin or rind), a middle layer we typically think of as the flesh of the fruit, and a casing around a seed/seeds.

Did you know that an avocado has more potassium than a banana? While bananas are known for being loaded with potassium, an avocado has twice the amount. According to an article, Six Things You Probably Did Not Know About Avocados, a single avocado has 975 milligrams whereas a banana has 487 milligrams of potassium.

Avocados do not ripen on the tree. As a result, you can leave them on your kitchen counter to ripen or place them in a brown paper bag. Avocados as well as bananas and apples release ethylene gas, a naturally-occurring plant hormone. The trapped gases in the bag will help them ripen much faster.

The chemistry of an avocado must be considered for total comprehension. Anyone who has cooked with avocados know that it takes several days to reach the point of perfect ripeness and at the same time it takes an incredibly short amount of time before morphing into an overripe mess. And to compound this problem, avocados turn brown very quickly after being cut open.

Compound Interest, The Chemistry of An Avocado, explains the “rapid browning of avocado flesh is a consequence of its exposure to oxygen in the air, as well as the presence of phenolic compounds in the avocado itself. In the presence of oxygen, polyphenol (an enzyme present in avocados) aids the conversion of phenolic compounds to another class of compounds called quinones.

“Quinones are capable of taking smaller molecules and joining them together to form a long chain, to produce polymers called polyphenols. This polymerization manifests itself as a brown colorization to the flesh. Therefore, damage to these cell structures and exposure to oxygen is required for the browning to occur.”

The browning of avocados can be prevented. One of the most effective ways is to rub lemon juice on the exposed flesh. Another option is covering the avocado flesh tightly in plastic wrap.

Avocados have not always been accepted and as popular as they are today. What’s Cooking America suggests avocado had a well-entrenched reputation for inducing sexual prowess and was not purchased or consumed by any person wishing to protect their image from slanderous assault. In fact, growers had to sponsor a public relations campaign to dispel their ill-founded reputation. Fortunately for us, false information ceased and the truth finally prevailed.

Avocados thick, buttery consistency coincides perfectly with sweet courses. Avocado chocolate truffles, avocado banana chocolate mousse, coconut avocado ice cream, vanilla cake with avocado lime cream frosting, and avocado vanilla bean smoothies are just a few examples of desserts infused with avocado. Avocados also pair well with citrus fruits and coffee.

Following is an avocado key lime pie. The rich, smooth avocado and citrusy lime filling adorns a graham cracker crust. Avocado key lime pie pushes the boundaries of sweet and savory and extends one’s repertoire of goodness. Enjoy.

* The following recipe is by Kristen Hartke of The Washington Post.

Avocado Key Lime Pie

Crust

2 cups finely ground graham cracker crumbs

1/4 cup sugar

scant 1/4 teaspoon sea salt

2/3 cup coconut oil (liquefied) or unsalted butter, melted

Filling

flesh of 2 ripe Hass avocados, smashed

4 teaspoons finely grated key lime zest

1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice (about 5 key limes)

1/2 cup sweetened condensed coconut milk

1 to 1 ½ teaspoons vanilla extract

pinch of kosher salt

whipped cream for garnish (optional)

finely grated lime zest or thin lime wheels for garnish (optional)

1. For the crust: preheat the oven to 350 degrees.

2. Combine the graham cracker crumbs, sugar and salt in a medium bowl. Add the oil or melted butter and stir until the crumbs are evenly coated, with the consistency of wet sand.

3. Use a spoon or the underside of a measuring cup to press the mixture evenly into the bottom and the sides of a 9-inch pie plate.

4. Bake (middle rack) for about 10 minutes or until lightly browned. Transfer to a wire rack to cool for 15 minutes, then refrigerate for 1 hour or until well chilled.

5. For the filling: Combine the avocado, lime zest, lime juice, condensed coconut milk, vanilla and salt. Puree until smooth and silky. Transfer the mixture to the chilled crust. Use a spoon or spatula and spread the pie filling evenly. Cover and refrigerate overnight.

6. Garnish with whipped cream, lime zest and lime wheels, if using.

Secret Ingredient - Silence. “In the end, we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.”

— Martin Luther King, Jr.

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