Monday, March 21, 2011

Key Lime Pie

After several people mentioning key lime pie on my Facebook page, I got the hankering for something tangy and sweet. I could have gone out and bought one, but it's so easy to make your own! With just a handful of ingredients and a very short amount of time, I had my very own key lime pie to enjoy.

The key to this recipe is using real key limes. They're pretty widely available. If you can't find real key limes, I know there are places that sell pre-bottled juice.

If it really came down to it, I suppose you could use ordinary limes. The flavor, however, will not be the same.

I split all my limes in half.

Then I gave my hands some exercise by juicing them all. By the way, you'll need about a pound of key limes. That ends up being around 12-15 key limes.

A pound of key limes will give you about 2/3 of a cup of juice, which is the perfect amount for this recipe.

Once you've got all your limes juiced, set them aside and grab a medium-sized bowl. The first ingredient you'll need is a can of sweetened condensed milk.

As a side note, this is not the same as evaporated milk. Sweetened condensed milk comes in short, squat cans that are very, very heavy. It's sweet and sticky (it's about half sugar) and very thick.

Evaporated milk comes in a taller can, and it's fairly light in comparison. A percentage of the water is evaporated from the milk. It's a shelf-stable milk and is not sweetened at all.

The two can not be used as substitutions for each other.

Now that we've got that out of the way--pour your sweetened condensed milk into the bowl.

Crack 3 eggs. Hang onto the yolks and save the whites for later.

Add the egg yolks to the sweetened condensed milk and stir together until well combined.

Zest two key limes, being careful to remove only the green part. The skin of key limes is pretty delicate, so running the zester gently over the surface of the lime is recommended, rather than scraping the lime over the zester.

The zest from two key limes should be about a teaspoon.

Pour your juice in with your sweetened condensed milk and eggs. I used a strainer to get out all the seeds--there were quite a few!

Pour your filling into a premade graham cracker crust. (Yes, I could have made my own, but it was a weeknight and I was busy!)

Pop your pie in a preheated 350F oven for 15 minutes.

After its brief bake, let the pie cool at room temperature for 10-15 minutes before popping it into the fridge.

Once your pie is completely cold (at least an hour), you can start on the topping. I know meringue is more traditional (and if you want to go this route, you've got a great use for those egg whites from the beginning of the recipe!) I didn't have much time, though, so instead topped my pie with fresh whipped cream.

I poured a half pint of heavy cream into a large mixing bowl.

Then I beat it for about a minute, just to thicken it a little.

I added the zest and juice from one key lime.

A tablespoon of sugar went in, too. You just can't see it because it sank to the bottom. But trust me, you'll know if you've forgotten it!

And just a tiny dash of vanilla. I didn't add as much as I would have if it was just a regular vanilla whipped cream, since I wanted the taste of the lime to be there. But the vanilla gave the cream a depth of flavor that I just didn't taste without it.

Then I turned the beaters back on.

I beat the cream until it was pretty stiff.

I plopped it onto my fully cooled pie.

The Kid got to lick the spatula when I was done. Lucky Kid!

I decorated the top of the pie with thin slices of key lime (I used the key limes I used for the zest in the pie filling.)

Get a taste of the tropics without leaving your home! It's not as good as a trip to Florida, but if you shut your eyes and imagine real hard, maybe you can trick yourself for at least as long as it takes to finish your slice of pie ;)

Recipe: Key Lime Pie

Pie filling:
juice from 1 lb. key limes (plus zest from 2 limes); about 2/3 c.
1 14-oz. can sweetened condensed milk
3 egg yolks
premade graham cracker pie crust

Whipped cream topping:
1/2 pint heavy whipping cream
juice and zest from 1 key lime
1 tbsp. white sugar
1/2 tsp. vanilla

For the pie: Preheat oven to 350F.

Combine sweetened condensed milk with egg yolks. Stir to combine. Add lime juice and zest; stir well. Pour into premade pie crust. Bake for 15 minutes. Remove from oven and let cool at room temperature for 10 minutes. Move pie to refrigerator.

For topping: Once pie has cooled completely (at least 1 hour), prepare whipped cream topping.

Beat heavy cream until slightly thickened. Add lime juice and zest, white sugar, and vanilla. Beat until heavy peaks form.

Top cooled pie with whipped cream and key lime slices. Enjoy!

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