Key Lime Pie
Spending Christmas in the Florida Keys was not all fun and games. I did some serious research. I visited the track where my dog raced, and I tested key lime pie all along the 120-or-so miles of that coral reef. I had to make some sacrifices, not just sit back and enjoy my visit, right?
I was surprised by what I found-I have been making this pie all wrong for decades. My key lime pie is sort of like lemon meringue pie without the meringue and with key lime juice instead of lemon. I cover it in whipped cream.
The first pie I tasted was more like a cheesecake than a pie. It was about 2 inches high, and the texture was very dense. The lime flavor was very mild. I didn’t believe this was authentic pie. I thought if I tried “real” key lime pie, I would find my pie was closer to the pie I found there. But they were all similar in texture and flavor.
What I found was that most of the pies were very thin, and all were on a graham cracker crust.
Most had no topping.
Often, there was a small amount of whipped cream, either on the side or near the crust. One had raspberry sauce drizzled over it.
The filling in all of them was solid, more like baked cheesecake than lemon pie filling. It had no cheese, and no cream. Most had a very mild lime flavor, but the best ones had enough juice to have great lime flavor AND a little tartness.
It turns out that key lime pie comes closer to a lemon tart filling that takes advantage of the property of condensed milk that thickens it when mixed with an acidic liquid like lime juice. Egg yolks are added to increase the richness of the pie. This pie could not be easier to make!
Here is an adaptation of a recipe that comes close to what we had:
Key Lime Pie
- 16 square graham crackers, crushed
- 3 T sugar
- 1/2 c butter
Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Mix the ingredients together and press them into a 9 inch pie plate. Bake in oven in middle rack for 10-12 minutes until lightly browned. Remove from oven, and cool on rack.
- 4 egg yolks
- 1-14oz can sweetened condensed milk
- 1/2 c key lime juice
- 2 t lime zest
Beat the egg yolks on medium speed until they are thick and turn yellow. Add the sweetened condensed milk, and mix on low speed. Drizzle half of the lime juice, once the lime juice is incorporated, add the other half of the juice and the zest, and mix until just incorporated. Pour the mixture into the cooled pie shell. Bake at 350 degrees for 12 minutes, Remove from oven and cool to room temperature, then refrigerate for approximately 2 hours to set.
So, what is more important? Your favorite recipe, or authenticity?