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Some things just scream SUMMER. Key Lime Pie falls in that category. I can’t think of any better cure for the winter blahs than an unexpected blast of summer. The refreshing tart and sweet flavors permeate every bite of this dreamy creamy pie. With just 4 ingredients, it is a cinch to make. It takes only a couple minutes to separate the eggs (you only use the yolks – save the whites for another recipe), mix with sweetened condensed milk and key lime juice. It then gets poured into a store-bought graham cracker crust and popped in the oven. Chill the baked pie in the fridge for an hour or so before serving to allow the flavors to really develop. Garnish the pie with whipped topping and the zest of a lime. Be prepared to be transported to beautiful, sunny Florida – if only in your taste buds.
I made my first “authentic” key lime pie almost 15 years ago when I stayed on Little Gasparilla Island, a barrier island in southwest Florida. It is located halfway between Sarasota and Ft. Myers. It has no bridges and is reachable only by private boat. There are no paved roads, just sandy pathways that meander through the sea grapes and Australian pines. I treasure my memories from those days! The cottage where I stayed had Key Lime Trees in the backyard. I had permission to pick as many key limes as I could use. How fun!!
Growing up in Minnesota, I didn’t know anything about key limes. The few times I had key lime pie was at a restaurant, and it was always green. I had just assumed that it was the color of the lime juice. It’s not. Real key lime pie is a pale yellow shade, not green. If you are eating a green pie, you are eating green food coloring. If you feel better eating a green pie, go ahead and add a drop or two, but there’s no food coloring in this recipe.
While it was fun juicing fresh key limes when I was on a little tropical island, unless you have key lime trees growing in the back yard, it’s not always practical. Plus, truthfully, you have to squeeze a whole lot of those little limes (around 16) to get one cup of juice. Luckily, there’s a delicious key lime juice available online and in the grocery store: Nellie & Joes: Key West Lime Juice. Of course, fresh is always best, but this is an excellent second choice and a lot easier. If you can’t find key lime juice, you can substitute half lime juice and half lemon juice. It’s not the same, but it’s still good.
Key limes, also called Mexican or West Indian Limes, are considerably smaller than regular limes. They are only about the size of a ping-pong ball. They’re light yellow (not green) when ripe and contain more seeds than regular limes. Key Lime juice is known for being tart and super-aromatic. Although they get their name from the Florida Keys, key limes are grown all over Florida and in some areas of California. They only grow in the States between June and September. However, they are grown in Mexico year-round.
So, if you are over winter and craving some summer, pick up some Key Lime juice and get baking!
Easy Key Lime PieCourse: DessertCuisine: AmericanDifficulty: Easy
This relentlessly refreshing and unbelievably easy Key Lime Pie delivers creamy bites of tangy tart sweetness in every bite.
• 4 egg yolks
• 1 cup key lime juice
• 2 (14 oz) cans sweetened condensed milk
• 1 (9 inch) prepared graham cracker crust
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C).
- Combine the egg yolks, sweetened condensed milk and lime juice. Mix well. Pour into unbaked graham cracker shell.
- Bake in preheated oven for 20-25 minutes. Allow to cool before chilling in refrigerate for a few hours. Before serving, top with whipped topping and garnish with lime zest, if desire
- Substitute key lime juice with equal parts of lime juice and lemon juice
- The color of your pie will be pale yellow, not green – the natural color of key limes. If desired, add a couple drops of green food coloring.
- Chill your pie in the fridge for an hour or so to allow flavors to fully develop
- If desired, garnish the pie with whipped topping and thin ribbons of lime peel (regular lime is fine) using a zester or thicker ribbons with a vegetable peeler