The following is a perfect dessert recipe for the hottest days of summer. Key Lime Pie originates in the Florida Keys, where they know a little something about surviving in sweltering weather. The first recipe for this dessert was recorded in the 1930s and included sweetened condensed milk, since fresh milk was not a common commodity in the area at the time. A reaction occurs between the condensed milk and the acidic lime juice which causes the filling to thicken on its own without requiring baking. Today, most recipes call for a short trip to the oven to improve the texture and eliminate any bacterial risks from the raw eggs. It’s better to use key limes for this recipe if you can get your hands on them, but they’re almost impossible to find in Italy. I make the pie with regular limes however, and have never heard any complaints. For the topping, you have a choice of using whipped cream or a fluffy meringue.
- 1 1/2 cup (150 grams) graham cracker crumbs
- 2 tablespoons (30 grams) granulated white sugar
- 6 tablespoons (80 grams) unsalted butter, melted
- 4 large egg yolks, room temperature
- One 14 – ounce (400 g) can sweetened condensed milk
- 1/2 cup (120 ml) key lime juice (can use regular limes)
- 1 tablespoon grated lime zest (outer skin)
Whipped Cream Topping
- 1 cup whipping cream, cold
- 2 tablespoons (30 g) sugar
Or Meringue Topping
- 4 egg whites
- 2 tablespoons (30 g) sugar
Preheat oven to 375°F / 190°C. Butter a 9 inch pie pan, set aside.
Crust: Mix together the graham cracker crumbs, sugar, and melted butter. Press onto the bottom and up the sides of the prepared pan. Bake for about 10 minutes or until set and lightly browned. Remove from oven and place on wire rack to cool while you make the filling. Lower oven heat to 325°F (160°C).
Filling: In the bowl of your electric mixer, with the whisk attachment, beat the egg yolks until pale and fluffy (2-3 minutes). Gradually add the condensed milk and beat until light and fluffy (3-5 minutes). Scrape down the sides of the bowl and then beat in the lime juice and zest.
Pour the filling over the crust and bake at 325°F (160°C) for about 10 – 15 minutes, or until the filling is set. If using the meringue topping, cover the hot pie with mounds of meringue and continue to bake for 10 minutes. If using the whipped cream topping, cool the pie completely and refrigerate for several hours before hand. Apply the whipped cream only just before serving.
Whipped Cream Topping: Once the filling has chilled, in the bowl of your electric mixer, with the whisk attachment (or with a hand mixer), beat the whipping cream and sugar until stiff peaks form. Spread mounds of whipping cream on top of the filling. Can be stored in the refrigerator for a few days.
Or Meringue Topping: Beat together the egg whites and sugar until stiff shiny peaks form. Spoon the meringue over the hot pie filling and spread to the edges of the crust. Bake at 350°F (180°C) for 10 minutes, until golden brown. You may turn on the broil function for a couple minutes to brown the meringue a bit more, if desired.