One of my dad’s favorite desserts is key lime pie. I remember going to the Florida Keys in high school and my dad ordering a slice at a restaurant and him saying that you can tell when the key lime pie is going to be good by the color, it can’t be green! The custard has to be that yellowish color with a slight tint of green. So when I spent Easter with my dad and I asked what he wanted for dessert it really shouldn’t have been that surprising when he said key lime pie!
Key limes are significantly smaller than the regular Persian limes that you find in the grocery store ranging in size from a ping pong ball to a golf ball and more yellow in color. Due to their size (it would take over 20 limes for the juice required in this recipe) and their availability I opted to use Persian limes (I know it’s cheating but it’s actually pretty hard to tell the difference in the pie!).
The filling for the pie needs to sit for a bit so make sure you start with it instead of starting with the crust.
Key Lime Pie Filling
Recipe adapted from Cook’s Illustrated Cookbook
4 large egg yolks
4 t lime zest (3-5 limes)
½ cup fresh lime juice
1 14oz. can sweetened condensed milk
- In a medium bowl whisk together egg yolks and lime zest until the yolks have taken on a light green tint, this will take a few minutes.
2. Whisk in the sweetened condensed milk and lime juice.
3. Let sit at room temperature until thickened, about half an hour.
While waiting for the mixture to thicken make the crust! Since it was Easter and family-time when I made this, I recruited my culinary-challenged sister to help (you know it’s true Jess). So she deserves all the credit for the lovely graham cracker crust and she can attest to how easy it is!
Graham Cracker Crust
8 whole graham crackers
5 T unsalted butter, melted and cooled
3 T sugar
- Preheat oven to 325° F.
- Grind up graham crackers in a food processor to make fine crumbs.
- Add melted butter and sugar and pulse until combined.
- Press crumbs evenly into a 9 inch pie shell.
- Bake until golden, about 10 to 15 minutes.
- Allow to cool a bit but not all the way, you want the crust to still be warm when you pour in your filling.
- Leave the oven set at 325°F!
- Pour thickened filling into the warm pie shell.
- Bake at 325° F for 15 to 20 minutes or until the pie jiggles like jello and doesn’t ripple like a puddle.
- Let cool at room temperature for 1 hour then gently press plastic wrap to the top of the custard and allow the pie to set in the refrigerator for about 3 hours.
I served the pie with fresh whipped cream which was a nice contrast to the tang of the lime custard!
1 cup heavy cream
¼ cup powdered sugar, sifted
- Using an electric mixer whip the cream and powdered sugar to soft peaks.
The custard was smooth, creamy, tangy, and delicious and the homemade graham cracker crust added a nice crunch unlike store bought versions. The only thing I would change would be to mince the lime zest. I used a microplane to zest the limes which resulted in small zest but I would have liked a slightly finer texture. But overall the pie was a huge hit!