This one is for my mother. She loves “my” key lime pie. I love that she loves my key lime pie. I wish that the recipe really was “mine” and that I created some innovative or ingenious combination of flavors to it to really make it my own signature dish, but truth be told, the recipe is almost verbatim from the Joy of Cooking, except I omit the meringue because personally, I’m not a fan of meringue pies. I’ve added raspberries and mango for variations, but I prefer the pie plain and simple.
The first time I made this recipe was in December 2002. I was at my mother’s house in Tallahassee, Florida and boredom caused me to peruse my mom’s stash of cookbooks. At the time, I was working in Washington, DC, and there was a restaurant on the first floor of my building that had a killer Key lime pie that was a favorite in my office when we worked late. As I browsed the Joy of Cooking, I came across the simple recipe for key lime pie and decided to give it a shot. It was a hit and it’s been a hit ever since then. I’ve made this for colleagues, family, and friends across many cities. It’s one of the easiest recipes in my dessert collection and I’ve got it committed to memory. The hardest part is squeezing the Key lime juice (those things are so darn small!).
The recipe below uses a store-bought graham cracker crust, which is the way I made it the very first time. Since then, I’ve made the pie with homemade graham cracker crust and with store-bought depending on how motivated I’m feeling. I’ve included a recipe for graham cracker crust here for your reference. While it gets its name from Key limes, and many swear that Key lime juice makes a difference, I’ve made this pie with regular store-bought limes and it works just fine. I made this pie when I was visiting my sister and brother-in-law and it had everyone happy that we were eating in instead.
KEY LIME PIE (adapted from The Joy of Cooking)
1-9 inch graham cracker pie crust (store-bought or homemade recipe follows)
1 15 oz. can sweetened condensed milk
1 tablespoon grated Key lime zest
½ cup Key lime juice, strained
¼ teaspoon salt
4 egg yolks, slightly beaten
Pre-heat oven to 350F. In a large bowl, mix the condensed milk, zest, lime juice, salt and eggs.
Stir until thickened, the citrus juice and the milk will cause it to thicken.
Pour into crust (if you are using a home-made crust, make sure it has cooled completely before filling) and bake for 15-17 minutes, until the center looks set. It’s ok if it is still a little quivery, let cool completely before serving. For a real crowd pleaser, serve this with some fresh whipped cream.
For the Graham Cracker Crust:
1 ½ cups coarsely ground graham cracker crumbs
¼ cup sugar
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
Pre-heat oven to 375F. In a medium bowl, mix together all of the ingredients until everything is blended well. Press the crumb mixture into the pie pan. Bake for 7-8 minutes. Let the pie crust cool completely before filling and baking again.