Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Key Lime Pie

I was never really much of a beach person (shocking I know, anti-beach people like former-me actually exist) up until this summer.  I don't really know why I never liked the beach, I just knew that it was soooo not my thing.  My parents aren't really beach people either, so I didn't really spend a lot of time at the beach when I was little.  I mean sure, I went to the beach a handful of times growing up with my cousins, and I did spend a week in Santa Marta (a city off the coast of Colombia) going to the beach every day I was there, but other than that, I can't say I have too many memories of myself at the beach.  I hated getting sand all over me, I though seaweed was gross (I still kind of think this), I was convinced that beaches were dirty, and the idea of being totally exposed to the hot rays of the sun with no possible chance of shade relief seemed like a terrible idea to me.  Hot weather and I just don't mix very well at times...I'm probably the only person that has somehow managed to end up angry at Disney World.  Yes, despite Disney World being the happiest place on Earth, visiting Orlando in the middle of August when there wasn't a cloud in the sky and it felt like 125 degrees in the shade just made me livid.  The part that makes this even sadder is that I wasn't even that little when this last happened...I was like 16 years old or something.  My parents still rub this story in my face every chance they get, but I digress.

Back to the beach.  

Something happened this summer where I decided that I needed to give myself a mild attitude adjustment.  If the marjority of the population actually likes going to the beach and everyone seems to be having a good time there, and if it's become a normal and socially accepted summertime activity...then maybe it couldn't be THAT bad.  I set a goal for myself this summer; I was going to learn to love (or at least appreciate) the beach, and you know's kind of working.  I wouldn't say I LOVE the beach just yet, but I definitely won't turn down any beach day invites in the future.  I'll admit that I found the beach to be relaxing, and even enjoyable.  I still hate getting sand everywhere, but I suppose that just comes with the territory.  All I needed was the right mindset, and I ended up learning to enjoy something new.  Crazy how that works, right?

Two weekends ago, I was at the beach with some friends, and after we left, we ended up getting dinner at this really awesome lobster farm.  It was casual sort of place, where you order your food at a window, and then eat in this really nice outdoor area by the water.  While checking out the menu, one of my friends happened to notice that "key lime pie" was listed under their desserts, and as soon as he mentioned it, the wheels in my brain started turning.  Key lime pie?  Hmmm...that could be really good...

Ever since that day, I've had this urge to whip up a key lime pie of my own.  It's just one of those desserts that is uniquely about summer, and has a flavor that I happen to love.  I am a huge fan of anything tart, and if it has a graham cracker crust, then pshhh, I'm all over it!  Let's not forget another one of my criteria for good's gotta be relatively simple.  Key lime pie fits the bill!  The filling for the pie uses only four ingredients, and the crust has just three...only seven ingredients in this dessert makes it a winner in my book.  This recipe doesn't use actual key limes, but instead uses regular Persian limes (you know, the normal big ones).  If you want to you use real key limes instead of Persian limes, by all means go ahead; you'll probably have to use about 20 or so to get the 1/2 cup of juice that is needed in the recipe. The pie comes together very quickly and easily, and requires nothing special, other than a 9-inch pie dish.  The filling has a tasty combination of sweet and sour- just enough to make your lips pucker, but then the sweetness cuts right through the tartness from the lime.  The graham cracker crust is delicious, as all graham cracker crusts are, and pairing it with the lime filling makes for one fabulous dessert.  All that's left is a little whipped cream on top, and you have a delicious and beautiful key lime pie.  Enjoy!

Key Lime Pie
From America's Test Kitchen, March 1, 1997


For the Lime Filling

4 teaspoons freshly grated lime zest
4 large egg yolks, at room temperature
1 14-ounce can sweetened condesed milk
1/2 cup fresh lime juice (from about 4 limes)

For the Graham Cracker Crust

1 1/4 cups graham cracker crumbs (from 11 graham crackers)
3 tablespoons granulated sugar
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

whipped cream and sliced limes, for topping (optional)


Begin by preparing the crust.  Preheat the oven to 325 degrees F, and position a rack in the middle of the oven.  Mix the graham cracker crumbs and sugar in a medium bowl.  Add the melted butter, and stir with a fork until well blended.  Pour the graham cracker mixture into a 9-inch pie pan, and press the crumbs over the bottom and up the sides to create an even crust.  Bake the crust until it is lightly browned, about 15 minutes.  Place the pie pan on a wire rack, and allow the crust to cool to room temperature, about 20 minutes.

While the crust bakes and cools, prepare the filling.  Whisk the lime zest and egg yolks together in a medium bowl, until the yolks have been tinted to a light green color.  Beat in the condensed milk, followed by the lime juice.  Set the filling mixture aside to thicken at room temperature.

Once the pie crust has cooled, pour the lime filling into the crust.  Bake the pie at 325 degrees F until the center has set, but still wiggles a little when shaken, about 16 minutes.  Place the pie back on the cooling rack, and allow to cool to room temperature before placing in the fridge to chill completely, at least 3 hours.

Up to two hours before serving, remove the pie from the fridge, and decorate with whipped cream and slices of lime, if desired.  Serve and enjoy!

Makes 1 9-inch pie


  1. This looks simply delightful! I love key lime.

  2. You have lemon zest as one of the ingredients, but you mention using lime zest in the description further down. I bought lemons for zest and a bottle of key lime juice, so now I'll have lemon/key lime pie (which won't be so bad I'll bet!). I just thought it was worth mentioning. Perhaps you can change your lemon zest to lime zest so as not to confuse any future bakers? Thanks for the recipe!

    1. Thanks so much for letting me know! I've updated the recipe to include lime zest in the ingredients, that must have just been a typo on my end. I hope your pie still came out delicious! :)


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