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Sensational Key Lime Pie

September 9, 2012

Key Lime Pie …has some interesting history, Jilly has discovered. And is a little tricky to make.

But with the right ingredients, you can make a spectacular Key Lime Pie. If you’re going to the effort to make this pie, why not make two? Especially suited to serve as a stellar top-up to a BBQ party. 

On a recent trip to Florida, Bobby & Jilly discovered how every coffee shop, restaurant, and guest house claims to have the BEST Key Lime Pie. The locals are very proud to claim the greatest, the most authentic, the most sensational Key Lime Pie. 

Its origin has been traced back to the late 19th century in the Key West, Florida area. Strong debate exists over the pie crust to be used – whether it’s traditional pastry or graham cracker crust. (We tried both and really prefer the graham cracker crust.) Only Key limes should be used, which are naturalized throughout the Florida Keys, and are smaller, more tart, and more aromatic than the more common commercial Persian limes found in grocery stores. And, the filling is based on sweetened condensed milk, which was invented in 1856 and became a staple that saved fishermen from malnutrition. In the proper version, the filling is a pale yellow; only dry-landers would use a green food colouring. As well, the topping can be a meringue, ice cream or whipped cream, depending on what your arteries allow. Meringue was favoured for a long time because it makes use of the egg whites in this recipe that would otherwise get discarded. However, whipping cream makes for an especially decadent version. 

Interestingly, Key Lime Pie was never baked. This is based on the reaction that occurs between the condensed milk and the acidity of the lime juice, which causes the filling to thicken on its own. This reaction is known as “souring”; however, due to safety concerns, most recipes recommend baking the pie for a short while, due to raw egg yolk that is used. Baking also thickens the texture of the filling a little more than this reaction alone.

Key West Floridians, well known for their inventiveness and creativity, contributed to legislation whereby Key Lime Pie was declared the “Official Pie of the State of Florida”, in 2006. Now, what province or state can claim something like that? (See related story in Travel). 

For two pies, you will need:

3 c. graham cracker crumbs

½ c. butter, melted

4 Tbsp. white sugar 

9 egg yolks*

3 cans (300 ml each/4 c. in total) of sweetened condensed milk

1 c. juice from Key limes **Save some of the limes to create lime zest to decorate the pies later. 

½ c. coconut

500 ml whipping cream (1 pint)

I packet whipping cream stabilizer, such as Dr. Oetker “Whip It” 

*Jilly tried that trick that’s recently gone viral where you separate a yolk from the white using an empty plastic bottle, inverted, and slightly deflated. You are supposed to be able to easily draw up the egg yolk into the base of the bottle. After wasting three eggs, which didn’t separate very well at all, and which later went into an omelet, she went back to separating the egg yolks the old fashioned way – just crack the egg as evenly as possible, then jostle the egg yolk from the white and plop into a mixing bowl. 

There are many variations to the crust and the filling. For example, you can vary these ingredients by adding pistachio or bacon bits to the graham cracker crust, and additional fruit to the filling. Whatever floats your boat!

First, mix the graham crackers with butter and sugar. Line two 9” pans, patting down the graham cracker mixture evenly from the centre till it reaches the edge of the pans. Bake at 350° for 10-12” then allow to cool. Jilly used a paper towel to sop up some of the butter so that the crust is firm and doesn’t go soggy. That’s the trick to this crust. This also reduces a small amount of fat, as this is not a recipe for the low-cal, low-fat zone. 

Next, whisk the egg yolks together, then add the condensed milk. Add the key lime juice and coconut, then whisk all together well for just a few minutes. (Purists agree that adding vanilla at this stage does not meld with the lime, so don’t even consider any flavour additives here.) Pour into the prepared graham cracker crust. Bake at 375° for 15”. 

Finally, cool the pies in the fridge for 4-6 hours so that the mixture and the crust set really well. 

To serve, prepare the whipping cream and stabilizer, beating till it forms stiff peaks. Spread over the pies, sprinkle with some lime zest, then be prepared for the look of delight your guests will have. Most delicious! 

Serves 12-16, depending on how you slice it. 

From my kitchen to yours — Enjoy!



From → Recipes

  1. bobby permalink

    tasted this recipe and found it to be limeylicious -way better than the fare in the Keys

    • Thanks, Bobby, for dropping in to check out my key lime special. Glad you liked the recipe. But, then, you’re pretty close to the source:) And you are a lucky man, indeed!

  2. Hi there! Do you know if they make any plugins to safeguard against hackers?

    I’m kinda paranoid about losing everything I’ve worked hard on.
    Any tips?

    • No, aside from not posting ANY links. Nothing is safeguarded from hackers, is my understanding. I do know I’ve had a couple of spammers try to intrude on my page, and only know that because WordPress blocks spammers – it’s somewhere in the files. I’ve been posting off & on for over two years and haven’t had a problem, but then I don’t have a high traffic blog. Good luck with your work!

  3. Hello there, just became aware of your blog through Google,
    and found that it’s truly informative. I’m going to watch out for brussels.
    I’ll appreciate if you continue this in future. A lot of people will be benefited from your writing. Cheers!

    • Thanks for your kind comments. This blog is just for a little fun with various recipes I come up with, and I’m glad it reaches people all over. Take good care.

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