Key Lime Pie

Paestry readers, I present thee a Key lime pie. Let’s just say I’ve been on a pie-baking roll. I don’t recall what inspired this one — usually I get a sudden jolt of motivation to bake a pie from something truly inspiring — but this time I simply decided. When I made one for a July 4th barbecue I realized what a delightful summertime dessert it is: refreshing, sweet, easy.

Talk about easy! Upon studying recipes, most all of them have only three ingredients for the filling: egg yolks, sweetened condensed milk and lime juice. That’s it! For whatever reason I thought it would be far more complicated but it’s actually quite semi-homemade.

A note about limes:

So how important is it to use Key limes versus the regular limes we usually find at the store? Wikipedia says the Key lime is more bitter and tart in flavor. I completely agree. The pie I made had a distant bitterness to it which bothered me at first, but later became very pleasing for a sweet pie. Those regular limes, by the way, are also known as Tahitian or Persian limes. They’re larger, more deeply green and apparently less acidic.

In fact, seeing recipes for Key lime pie reminded me of another recipe I saw awhile back for Meyer lemon pie. It uses the same graham cracker crust, egg yolks and condensed milk and of course, Meyer lemon juice. I am very intrigued by this and plan on trying this version someday. Meyer lemons are less sour than the typical lemon and have an orangey twang to them. Can you guess that I’m in love with citrus?

Limes awaiting their violent death.

To be reincarnated into a pie.

I fresh-squeezed every single lime. Key limes turn out to be rather small and knobbly and thus very cumbersome to squeeze. But I did it using a teaspoon and gutted those bad boys until I had about 1/2 a cup of lime juice. One tip for squeezing limes is pushing them down with your palm while rolling them on a hard surface to coax the juice before slicing. Another tip per Rachael Ray is zapping them in the microwave for no more than 10 seconds to get the juices going — it actually works!

As with most pies, making the crust is the hardest part. I ground graham crackers in a food processor until they became crumbs and added sugar and melted butter. Press down the mixture on a pan until it forms a crust. This took forever!

Here’s the recipe from Epicurious. Don’t forget the fresh whipped cream on top.

Ingredients

For crust
1 1/4 cups graham cracker crumbs from 9 (2 1/4-inch by 4 3/4-inch) crackers
2 tablespoons sugar
5 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

For filling
1 (14-ounce) can sweetened condensed milk
4 large egg yolks
1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons fresh or bottled Key lime juice (if using bottled, preferably Manhattan brand)

Directions:

Preheat oven to 350°F.

Stir together graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and butter in a bowl with a fork until combined well, then press mixture evenly onto bottom and up side of a 9-inch (4-cup) glass pie plate.
Bake crust in middle of oven 10 minutes and cool in pie plate on a rack. Leave oven on.

Make filling and bake pie:

Whisk together condensed milk and yolks in a bowl until combined well. Add juice and whisk until combined well (mixture will thicken slightly).
Pour filling into crust and bake in middle of oven 15 minutes. Cool pie completely on rack (filling will set as it cools), then chill, covered, at least 8 hours.

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