June 16, 2014

Key Lime Pie

I didn't realize how popular key lime pie is in South Florida until I moved here.  Nearly every dessert menu includes it and many restaurants boast that they make the best key lime pie.

Prior to visiting Robert Is Here this past weekend, I checked out their seasonal guide online.  When I saw that key limes are available year-round I knew I wanted to pick some up to try making this pie for the first time.

My Florida cookbook, Field to Feast, seemed like the perfect book to find a great key lime pie recipe and it cracked me up when I discovered the recipe was submitted by Robert's wife and paired with a story about Robert Is Here.

I was surprised to find that the key limes at Robert is Here were yellow, so I googled "yellow key limes" which led me to All About Key Limes from Kermit's Key West Lime Shoppe.  Here are a couple things I learned -

Q - Why are some Key Limes green and others yellow?
A - The green stage is the early stage of ripening and when the Key Lime's flavor is the strongest.  The yellow stage is the final stage of ripening and the flavor is somewhat mellowed.

Q - What will happen if I put green coloring in a Key Lime Pie?
A - Everyone will know it isn't an authentic Key Lime Pie and they may talk or laugh about it behind your back.

Neither Chris nor I noticed any mellowing in flavor when we tried our first bites of the pie.  As Chris put it "this is a lime kick to the head."  I think whipped cream is mandatory with this pie because it helps balance the tartness of the pie.  It also dresses up an otherwise boring looking pie.

Did you notice my green key lime slices in the middle?  It turns out I didn't pick up enough key limes at Robert Is Here, so I had to purchase a few more from grocery store and their key limes were green.

I chose to pipe the whipped cream along the border which looks a little odd in whole pie form but I like the look when it's cut into slices.  If you're looking to do something similar, I used a Wilton 1M tip.  Or you can just get a can of Reddi-Whip and call it a day :)

According to a King Arthur Flour recipe, key lime pie first appeared prior the Civil War and was a direct result of the Borden company's invention of sweetened condensed milk.

"Key lime pies were first made in the Keys in the 1850s with the advent of sweetened condensed milk in 1856.  Since there were few cows on the Keys, the new canned milk was welcomed by the residents and introduced into a pie made with lime juice.  The original pies were made with a pastry crust, but a crust made from graham crackers later became popular."

Key Lime Pie

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 23 minutes
Ingredients (one 9" pie)

    • 1 1/4 cups graham cracker crumbs
    • 3 tablespoons sugar
    • 1/3 cup butter

    • 4 egg yolks
    • 14 oz can sweetened condensed milk
    • 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons key lime juice (from 1 pound of key limes - about 28 key limes)

    • 1 cup heavy cream
    • 1 tablespoon powdered sugar
    • 1 teaspoon vanilla
    • Heat oven to 350 degrees.
    • In a medium bowl, combine graham cracker crumbs and sugar. Melt butter, then stir in butter until thoroughly blended. Press onto bottom and sides of a 9-inch pie pan, bringing crumbs evenly up to the rim.
    • Bake for 8 minutes, cool completely. I recommend using a pie crust shield during the entire bake time.

    • In a medium bowl, whisk together egg yolks and condensed milk. Add key lime juice and whisk until mixture thickens slightly.
    • Pour filling into cooled crust and bake for 15 minutes at 350 degrees. I recommend using a pie crust shield during the entire bake time. Cool completely, then refrigerate, covered, at least 8 hours.

    • Just before serving, whip cream in a stand mixer with the whisk attachment until stiff peaks are just about to form, then add powdered sugar and vanilla, mixing until peaks form. Serve pie topped with cream.

    Recipe adapted from: Field to Feast: Recipes Celebrating Florida Farmers - page 247
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    1. I had no idea about the limes starting out yellow, never knew! Love key lime pie, now you have my craving it : )

    2. I totally learned something new today Karis, definitely didn't know that key limes could be yellow, and I totally cracked up at the part about people laughing behind ones' back if one were to add green food coloring! Looks super delicious! I always make key lime pie for Thanksgiving, now I'm wondering why I don't make it more often...off to the grocery store after work I go!

    3. Fresh squeezed likes. Something my mother would love.