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Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Key Lime Pie

This is my third lime-related posting in a row. When I said that this summer's baking would be exclusively fruit-based, I didn't realize I meant exclusively one fruit! But who's complaining? Not me, that's for sure -- I love lime.

This recipe is extremely simple to put together and quick to bake. It originally comes from Emeril, and is a basic recipe very similar to others I have seen except for the amount of lime juice, which is a little more than the average recipe. Lime juice, sweetened condensed milk, and eggs come together to make a simple lime-flavored custard poured into a graham cracker crust, and a thin layer of slightly-sweetened sour cream and lime zest is smoothed on top after baking.

First point: the graham cracker crust. Emeril provides a recipe for a graham cracker crust with his recipe, which I will place at the bottom of his post in case anyone is interested. But, if you have a graham cracker crust recipe that you really like, from a cheesecake or whatnot, feel free to use that instead. Alternatively, you can do what I did, and buy the ready-made crust, which makes this pie even more convenient. I used a 9" shell, and had enough filling left over to fill 6 of the mini-graham cracker shells, so keep this in mind when you are deciding what crust to make/use. One thing I don't think I'd do, however, is use a regular pie crust. When you eat this pie, you will understand, but the graham cracker adds so much to the overall flavor that to leave it out would almost be a crime.
This took about 12-13 limes, but so worth it!
Second point: the limes. Originally, I bought ingredients for this pie because I wanted to use up the Key lime juice that I purchased for the Key Lime Coconut Crumb Bars. But that juice went bad in my fridge, so I scrambled out and bought a bunch of limes (about 13) to juice by hand -- and let me just tell you that it was a lot of work, but unquestioningly worth it. The flavor of the fresh lime juice (squeezed from run-of-the-mill Persian limes at the supermarket) was so bright and crisp, that I don't think I will ever use the Key lime bottled juice again except in an emergency. That is my recommendation, at least. The pie will still be delicious with the Key lime juice from the bottle, but it really has something extra special with the fresh juice. And whatever you do, don't ever use the lime juice in the little green plastic squeeze lime. That is for cooking garnish only, it has too many preservatives to taste good in baking.

Here's the yummy filling all blended.

  • 1 9" graham cracker pie crust, ready-made (or recipe below)
  • White of one egg
For the filling:
  • 2-14oz cans sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 C lime juice (freshly squeezed if possible)
  • 2 eggs

For the topping:
  • 1 C sour cream
  • 2 tbls confectioner's sugar
  • 1 tbls lime zest
 Mini pies without their topping -- glad I had these little crusts on hand!

  1. Preheat oven to 375F.
  2. Brush the crust with egg white, and bake at 375F for about 5-10 minutes, until golden and fragrant. Let cool. 
  3. Lower the oven temp to 325F
  4. Combine the condensed milk, lime juice, and eggs in a mixer bowl, and beat on medium until combined and smooth (you can also do this by hand with a whisk).
  5. Pour the filling into the cooled pie shell, and bake 15-20 minutes at 325F. If you have excess filling, you can fill mini-crusts. They bake in about 10 minutes.
  6. Let stand at room temp for about 5 minutes before putting it uncovered in the fridge to set for at least 2 hours.
  7. When the pie has set, prepare the topping by mixing the sour cream, confectioner's sugar, and zest together until smooth.
  8. Gently smooth a thin layer on the top of the pie.
  9. Store in the fridge until ready to be eaten (the colder, the better).
Coated with a thin layer of sour cream topping

These pies are delicious, and that's that. The flavor is strong and bright, and even people who dislike lime (like my mom) thought they were excellent. And there is no sacrifice required with regards to flavor intensity in order to get non-lime likers to enjoy them -- these are lime pies in every sense of the word. All of the flavors meld wonderfully together. I was unsure of Emeril's sour cream topping, but it works beautifully. However, I would like to also try sweetened whipped cream or meringue as a topping, to see how they work. I also have an idea to use this basic recipe using lemon juice to make a lemon custard for a lemon meringue pie. It wouldn't quite be a traditional custard, but I think it would taste a heck of a lot better than the cooked pudding Jell-o filling I currently use.

True lime filling is not naturally green unless you add dye.

Make these. You won't regret it.

Emeril's Graham Cracker Crust:
  • 1 1/2 C graham cracker crumbs
  • 1/2 C granulated sugar
  • 4 tbls melted butter
 Combine ingredients and press into a 9" pie pan, and pre-bake as above.


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