If you’re from Florida or have visited Florida, chances are you’ve had our key lime pie. I say “our” key lime pie because Floridians swear it originated here. The history is actually a bit of a controversy. Floridians say it’s from Key West but some believe it originated in NYC at the Borden Condensed Milk Co. According to an article from Southern Living, it was originally made with lemons, not key limes. If you would like to read the article, follow this link: https://www.southernliving.com/news/key-lime-pie-history
I’ve been having key lime pie as long as I can remember. I have tried several recipes and always found that I preferred the crust of one and the filling of another, etc. So, I decided to test mixing my favorites and the results did not disappoint. I buy Nabisco Honey Graham Crackers brand specifically because they have “stay fresh” packs that hold 8 crackers each. Plus the honey in the cracker means you don’t have to add too much sugar. Also, the left overs in the box won’t go stale right away since they are individually packaged. The crust turns out crispy and thick, not too buttery but definitely toasty, with a deep golden color. As for the filling, it is sweet but not too sweet that you can’t appreciate the tartness of the limes. This is a simple recipe with just a few ingredients and is also easy to make.
Rule #1 when making Key Lime Pie…Try to use actual key limes. If they’re unavailable in your area use limes and lemon, or bottled key lime juice. The best time to make this pie is summer (June-August) when the key limes are at their peak. I like to buy the key limes that are just ripened, or I leave them on my kitchen counter a couple of days, until they’re just right. These little limes pack a ton of juice; however if they are too hard/green, you won’t have enough juice and your pie might be a bit bitter or the condensed milk will overpower the citrus. Ideally, you’ll need a pound of limes, which is approximately 13 limes, turning out 1 full cup of key lime juice. If you’re substituting with limes abs lemon, use 1/4 cup lemon juice and 3/4 lime juice. I always serve this pie with whipped cream, but you can also make a merengue topping. I make my cream for this pie on the bland side, meaning, I barely add sugar. The blandness of the less sweet whipped cream is a great compliment to the sweet/tart pie! Give it try, you’ll love it!
- 20 squares Nabisco Honey Graham Crackers
- 1/4 cup sliced almonds
- 2 1/2 Tbsp sugar
- 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon
- 2 pinches Kosher salt
- 6 TBSP unsalted butter (melted)
Ingredients for filling:
- 3 egg yolks
- 2 TBSP sugar
- 1 1/2 cups condensed milk from two 14 ounce cans of condensed milk (1 can and about 1/3 of the second can)
- 1 cup key lime juice (use fresh; one pound is about 1 cup or 13 key limes). Use limes that are just ripened. If the limes are not too ripe, purchase a few extras so you’ll be sure to have enough to fill 1 cup. Thirteen juicy limes will weigh about 1 pound.
- Heat oven to 350º. Melt butter over medium/high heat and set aside. Place the graham crackers, almonds, sugar, cinnamon and salt in the food processor and pulse to make fine crumbs. With the food processor running on low, slowly pour the melted butter into the bowl through the opening of the lid and pulse until the crumbs are saturated with the melted butter.
- Transfer the mixture to 9 1/2″ Pyrex pie dish (or another pie dish that can go from the oven to the freezer). Using a cylinder shaped, flat bottomed glass or your hands, firmly press the crust into the bottom of the pie dish and up the sides. Bake for 10-13 minutes on 350; the longer you bake it the crispier it will be. Remove the pie crust from the oven and place it in the freezer while you prepare your filling. Lower the oven temperature to 325º.
- For the filling: Use a hand mixer and whip the egg yolks and the sugar until light and creamy. Make sure that the sugar crystals are dissolved into the egg yolks. This is what will achieve a creamy texture. Squeeze the limes into a bowl. Pour the juice though a strainer into a measuring cup, you do not want pulp or seeds in your pie; fill to 1 cup level. If you have extra juice you can save it for another use. Add the juice and condensed milk to the egg yolks and sugar mixture. Using the paddle attachment on your mixer, gently mix the ingredients until combined and creamy.
- Add the filling to the cooled pie crust and bake for 15 minutes. Remove from the oven and set on a cooling rack until it is room temperature, then cover with plastic wrap refrigerate for at least 4 hours before serving. I like to set the plastic wrap directly on the filling to avoid condensation dripping onto the pie.
For whipped cream topping: Using a stand or hand mixer, whisk 2 cups heavy whipping cream, add sugar a little at at time. You can add 1 teaspoon to 2 Tbsp (depending on how sweet you want your whipped cream). Sugar can also be omitted. Whip until soft peaks form. I prefer to add whipped cream to individual slices. If using merengue topping you can add it atop of the entire pie and refrigerate.